The political philosophies of Conservatism and Liberalism in the United States are complex and evolving. To thoroughly understand and communicate them would require months of research and many pages of analysis. My aim here is more modest. I will simply contend that, in the common way today’s politicians and media outlets talk about Conservativism and Liberalism, they are talking about two sides of the same coin, and that coin is caring.
Conservatism: Caring for the sustainability of society, with a focus on stability achieved by everyone doing their part.
Liberalism: Caring for those struggling within society, with a focus on change to help those struggling.
Sadly, we have permitted the caring coin to be split in our nation. Most politicians and media outlets pit Conservatism and Liberalism against each other in an unwinnable battle that is a complete waste of time. Because we need both. Conservatism and Liberalism have always been (and will always be) essential perspectives and forces in human societies.¹ Demonizing one only hinders our ability to respond to challenges and solve problems, which in turn threatens our nation. To begin to rectify this situation, here are two things we can do:
- Ask ourselves: What kind of society would we create if we didn’t know ahead of time the station we would hold in that society?² This thought exercise helps to dispel the myth that any human society can survive (let alone thrive) without both perspectives. We wouldn’t build a Conservatism-only society and risk suffering on the bottom rung of a society void of support and adverse to change. However, we wouldn’t build a Liberalism-only society either and risk being subjected to the violence inherent in radical change and failed states. Societies that thrive balance Conservatism (a focus on sustainability and stability) and Liberalism (a focus on support and change) and invest time and energy understanding when to apply each perspective for the greatest good.
- Hold politicians and media outlets accountable for understanding the caring coin and for the impact their statements and actions have on people. If they fall short of our expectations, vote or tune them out.
That’s REAL to me.
¹ To learn more about this idea, here is one source: Junger, S. (2016). Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. Hachette Book Group, Inc.: New York.
² To learn more about the history of this thought exercise, see: John Rawls’ Original Position.