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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, January 19, 2007

An unscientific experiment

I'm doing a little research for a writing project and I need your feedback. I need lots of feedback, so tell your friends, family, blog buddies, etc., to weigh in on this one too.

I have five questions: How do you define "conservative" and "liberal?" What is one (I mean it, just one) short example you believe supports your definitions? Which do you consider yourself to be, or do you consider yourself to be an independent? What is your age range (18 - 24, 25 - 34, 35 - 44, 45 - 64, 65 - and up)? And what region of the U.S. do you reside in?

Just post your answers in the comments section. Try to keep answers short. Again, consider it unscientific research. I'll explain more when the answers come in.

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36 Comments:

  • A conservative wants to control your sex and reproductive organs, your morals and what you put into your body.

    A liberal wants to take away your guns and redistribute your money and property.

    age 35-44

    Independent
    South Texas

    By Blogger Hammer, at 3:21 PM  

  • Conservative = a person who resists change due to the unpredictability of its effect on the known world, regardless of how consciously limited that knowledge may be--this person lacks the senses of adventure, imagination and, quite frequently, humor.
    An example of a conservative is a plumber who refuses to pull up her pants over the crack because she believes that people identify that image with a plumber, regardless of whether it increases or decreases her calls or pay--the adherence to the seemingly meaningless "Plumber's crack" image is more important than the reality it represents.

    Liberal = a person who is a free thinker who welcomes and fights for change without fully examining the consequences because the important thing is the constant change and not necessarily the result of that change. An example of a liberal is a person who pickets the supermarket to carry 50 different brands of white bread to choose from but has only ever bought the store baked brand.

    Myself, I am a psychobiotic anarchomaterialist. I believe in everything and believe in nothing, quietly picking the pockets of the crowd while they listen with rapt attention at the liberals and conservatives, or whichever placebo theory demagogues arguing at the dais that they wish to imprint upon.

    My age group is 35-44, but it doesn't matter because I'm too young to care and too old to die.

    And I am a Floridian, sir--I know full well the delicious value of someone else's dollar.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:54 PM  

  • A Conservative tries to "conserve," or to save, his concept of what everybody's morals or ideals should be.

    A Liberal tries to "liberate," or to free, an overbearing lock on what everybody's morals or ideals should be.

    For example, the conservative president of a homeowner's association may feel that it is in the best interest of the community to save money at every opportunity, without regard to the upkeep of the neighborhood, holding the belief that everybody shares his standards. After all, who is opposed to saving money?

    The remaining members of the board, who may be liberals, want to spend money where needed, possibly believing that the president has his own agenda, and perhaps shouldn't be foisting such agenda on the larger group over which he governs, specially when his goals, though honorable, may not be as popular as he maintains. After all, who wants to save money at the expense of the community?

    When I was in my 20s, I called myself a Liberal. Today I am becoming more conservative, but still consider my beliefs liberal. I am between 45-64 and live in The South.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 5:39 PM  

  • I don't consider myself to be anything when it comes to politics.

    I've never even voted.

    I do think politics are hilarious though...where does that put me? ;)

    Steve~

    By Blogger Steven Novak, at 7:25 PM  

  • Hmm. Ultimately I view conservatives as champions of church doctrine and unbridled capitalism, with a focus on short term gain and the individual and less on the greater welfare of the masses. I view liberals as being free from dogma and willing to experiment, willing to accept diffrerences and embrace change, with a greater eye toward the common good and an understanding of one's personal actions relative to one's larger community.

    I'm 31. I'm independent and usually stand left of the middle, and live in southern California.

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 9:35 PM  

  • Conservative: Belief that government should be minimal and the individual should hold a higher degree of responsibility. (Ok, granted this is a pre-1992 view of conservatism minus a few religious nutjobs who want to control EVERYONE.)

    Liberal: Belief that governmental role should be expanded to include the well-being of citizens, even if it precludes individual rights and responsibilities.

    I'm registered Libertarian, and agree with the majority of that line of thinking.

    I'm 32.

    I live in Northern California.

    By Blogger QofD, at 10:35 PM  

  • A woman who'll tell her age will tell you anything.


    It's a big circle. Just like travelng in space. Space is curved -- so the farther you travel away from one thought the closer you come to it from the other side.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 2:56 AM  

  • Conservatives - people who are supporters of the free market economy with less regard for the social effects of said system than for the money they stand to make (or lose). Also, people who want less government, unless it conflicts with their specific religious/"moral" beliefs. I think this includes people who could be called religious fundamentalists.

    Liberals - people who can be as narrow-minded in focus as conservatives, but with a much more self-righteous tone. People who do care about the society at large, but who sometimes miss the important grey areas and who want more government, particularly if it steamrolls the conservatives. People who go to lots of fund-raisers and champion lots of causes but who don't seem to actually interact with the people for whom they "fight" - it seems more about satisfying their own consciences than about making actual change.

    I'd have to say I'm an Independent. I usually vote with the Democrats, but can't stand either the Dems or Republicans. At the fringe of both parties, they're essentially the same - fundamentalists who want to lord their beliefs over the rest of us.

    By Blogger bc, at 10:08 AM  

  • Oh - and I'm 35, and live in the South.

    By Blogger bc, at 10:20 AM  

  • As far as I can tell, being conservative is all about the accumulation of wealth and the restriction of human and personal rights. Examples include tax breaks for the rich, the Patriot Act, and the Right-to-Life movement. The latter is of particular interest to me because it guarantees that a cluster of cells in my useless uterus will live forever while denying that same right to women's-health-clinic employees, to thousands of innocent soldiers and civilians in Iraq, to prisoners in the U.S. penal system, and to the countless medical patients whose lives could be saved using embryonic stem cells.

    Being liberal amounts to fiscal irresponsibility, moral depravity, tree-hugging, and the senseless wasting of precious public resources for the sake of irredeemable people. Examples of this include Massachusetts' requirement of the shared cost of affordable healthcare for everyone, gay marriage, the notion of global warming, and welfare.

    I am a liberal.

    I am 35-44.

    I reside in the Southeastern region, in America's unwashed arm-pit. They call it "Miami".

    By Blogger Yvette, at 11:17 AM  

  • The labels conservative and liberal represent only one dimension of thought. The second dimension would be the axis representing authoritarian versus libertarian.

    I'm mostly liberal on many issues but conservative on a few others. Age: 31. Region: Washington, DC.

    By Blogger Matt, at 3:10 PM  

  • A 45-64, conservative, classical economist, living in the southeast, who believes it's wrong to tell another what to do and has little patience for dogooder busy bodies

    By Blogger Mickysolo, at 9:29 PM  

  • Ooohhh....I can't wait to read the responses and results.

    I've never been able to define those labels (conservative and liberal) well enough to put myself in any one category.

    So, what am I?

    41, female.
    I live in the south.

    I usually vote Democrat. What can I say? I was born poor in the south, I don't think I'm allowed to be a Republican.

    I am absolutely for the death penalty and I think the appeals process should be shortened significantly.

    I am against abortion, but I don't think I have the right to tell another woman what she can or cannot do. I'll pay for my mistakes, you pay for yours.

    I think the government has an obligation to protect and serve its weaker citizens, but that protection and service isn't never-ending. We also have to help ourselves and we should earn, in some way, the help and support we get.

    Taxes are way too high, but we can be smarter with the money that's there.

    I don't care who marries whom. In fact, I think everyone should be allowed to get married, because everyone should have to break up the hard way -- through divorce. Why should a gay couple get the easy way out?

    So, where do I fit in? God knows, I have no clue.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 10:28 PM  

  • James, I've got to say that this has been one of the most revealing questions you have ever asked - at least since I joined your group last July. Great dialog! "Canardly" wait to see where this is going ...

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 5:59 AM  

  • A conservative strives to keep things the way they are and is focused on preserving institutions and traditions. A liberal believes that things can always be better and focuses on reform and improvement. Being liberal implies a generosity of spirit, embracing the differences in others. Conservatives hold firm to convention and are most comfortable with people who live and think like they do. Liberals are the agents of change and chaos in the world, conservatives are most comfortable when everything is organized and classified. Liberals believe there is room for all points of view, and that all should be heard. Conservatives believe they have found the correct way to think and have little or no interest in entertaining alternative philosophies. Together these forces of entropy and stasis work together to provide equilibrium in our society, as they do in the universe. As in most things people fall on many points along the scale between liberal and conservative and I would classify myself as much more toward the liberal end of the scale, although I am a fiscal conservative.

    I agree with Pamela that a woman who tells her age is, shall we say, indiscreet? I way born in western Kentucky and have lived in the Richmond VA area for over 30 years if that helps.

    By Blogger wordsonwater, at 8:17 AM  

  • I guess I can chalk that up to yet another difference between me and the rest of woman-kind.

    I don't give a fuck who knows how old I am.



    SWF - still waiting to hear whether I'm convervative or liberal.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 12:45 PM  

  • Conservative tends to want to hold onto the status quo. Also, they tend to be somewhat traditionalist. And of course, a distinction needs to be made between fiscal and social conservative.

    Liberals are believers in redistribution of wealth, they tend to believe in government intervention, but non traditionalist social views.

    All this being said, such labels are meaningless and people have different views jumping back and forth between said camps depending on their needs.

    I am from the Midwest, I am fifty one. I consider myself far to the left of liberal

    By Blogger Stewart Sternberg, at 2:59 PM  

  • btw James, we didn't see you at the roll call. How did you do with the workouts?

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 11:39 PM  

  • "A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged." -- Frank Rizzo

    By Anonymous Steve, at 4:39 PM  

  • Liberals & conservatives:
    Dumb & Dumber

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:14 PM  

  • A conservative wants smaller government and less govermental interference in our lives except when it comes to legislating morality, and then they are all over that.

    A liberal is okay with the role of government in everyday life and believes more often than not that government is the answer to many ills.

    For instance, a liberal might advocate welfare as a way of reducing poverty while a conservative would prefer to reduce poverty by other means (charitable organization, "rugged individualism", etc.)

    I am in the 35-44 age range, live in the South, and consider myself just right of center.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 7:16 PM  

  • Conservatives base their actions on facts, and liberals on feelings. I'm a conservative, 47, and live near Chicago.

    By Anonymous og, at 9:43 PM  

  • Is anyone else getting a kick out of how negative the definitions of "the opposite" are?

    One is very very good. One is very very bad. All depending on the point of view, of course.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 9:55 PM  

  • Crap. Gotta think now.

    Conservative: comfortable maintaining the status quo, regardless of whether it's working or not.

    Liberal: willing to entertain new ideas, whether they work or not.

    By Blogger 123Valerie, at 1:41 AM  

  • My bad, James Burnett: I'm 26 and reside in suburband Maryland, by way of Ohio and North Carolina.

    By Blogger 123Valerie, at 1:45 AM  

  • 'conservative' - someone who wants to keep things the same "as they've always been"regardless of a) whether they've been like that for however long & b) whether or not this is sensible, or a Good Thing, never mind Right.

    'liberal' - someone who wishes to change or loosen things, regardless of a) whether they've been like that for however long & b) whether or not this is sensible, or a Good Thing, never mind Right.

    Which argues a definition of both 'Good Thing' & 'Right', not to mention 'sensible', & their independence!

    Age group 45-64, living in Portsmouth, Hants, UK - which isn't, & never has been, a state of the USA!

    Think it may also require a definition of 'cynic'!

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 6:27 AM  

  • As had swf41, I, too, had noticed the negativity of the definitions opposite ones beliefs. People have not been conservative in their praise for their own commitments, and have been quite liberal in their blasting of those of their opponents.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 6:39 AM  

  • Modern Conservatism is the belief that your political position has something to do with the "good old days" or "the things that made this country great".

    Modern Liberalism is the belief that your political position has to do with progress away from the "bad old days" or "the nightmare of history".

    Neither one of these is a political position; they are beliefs ABOUT one's political position.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 PM  

  • Conservatives generally tend to be in favor of less government input or control. They are more likely to be highley educated white men.

    Liberals tend to welcome government interference and support. They tend to be non-white, baby boomers (if white), poorer people and people of color.

    I have no short examples. : )

    I consider myself liberal.

    I am 39, and I live in Columbus, Ohio.

    By Anonymous Angie, at 3:42 PM  

  • I delayed responding to your request, James, because conservative and liberal are well on their way to becoming meaningless terms. The ceaseless manipulation of philosophical language by political marketers has turned the false conservative/liberal axis into a football game. Most Americans pick a favorite team and cheer it on without more than a cursory consideration of its meager philosophical underpinnings.

    On top of this, both terms are so broad as to be almost meaningless, given that there is a huge variance in beliefs. Conservative is not the same as Republican, just as liberal is not equivalent to Democratic. However, I would wager that to thte majority of Americans the terms are interchangeable.

    But you've got a job to do, so I'll play along.

    Conservatives feel that the purpose of government is to restore a fictional American past of Norman Rockwell small towns and benevolent plutocrats, where bad things happen but spunky small businessmen can make it all a-okay. Liberals see government's role as ensuring the development of an enlightened and all-accepting Utopia, where prejudice has been eliminated by the wise rule of philosopher-kings-- er, Congress.

    As a shorter version, and not one original to me, try this 1950s style psychology. Conservatives are the Daddy, who is tough and bossy and pays the bills; liberals are the Mommy, who nurtures society and makes sure no-one is left behind.

    Me, I'm in a party of one. I'm also in the 45-64 age category, and live in Miami.

    By Blogger mkh, at 8:22 AM  

  • Conservative= Help yorself- you have all the opportunities to succeed.

    Liberal= we should help others succeed a.k.a communism

    As a Cuban American, this was embedded in me from an early age.

    I consider myself to be a liberal conservative. i.e., you should be able to decide what you want to do with your body (reproduction rights) however, i don't believe that we should be breaking our backs to pay taxes for people that are just not willing to help themselves. I didnt feel this way until I managed a Section 8 apartment complex in California.

    I am in the 25-34 age range, and I reside in the southwest.

    By Blogger cucuclaire, at 11:34 AM  

  • Whew... Well what can I add that hasn't already been said? Not much I'm afraid. I too couldn't define these properly but earlier comments seem to have done quite well. I'm in agreement with Hammer, Big Daddy, Yvette & WordsOnWater.

    As for me, I vote on issues rather than based on a particular party. I try to go with whomever has more pros than cons on the issues I value. I don't know what that makes me in my heart but my voter's registration says republican.

    Figure this one out. I'm pro-choice, for the death penalty, for stem cell research, for the environment, for protecting our borders and against higher taxes.

    35 and holding age category / Miami, FL

    I don't think all Conservative or Liberal views are all bad or all good. It just seems that the Conservatives or Liberals who are the most outrageous get the most attention thus creating and or perpetuating stereotypes for their party.

    By Blogger Dayngr, at 11:36 AM  

  • Conservatives are extremists who are very selfish. Liberals are extremists who blame everyone else for problems. I'm in the 34-44 group. I live in the south but was raised in on the East coast, and I've voted both republican and democrat in the past.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 12:51 PM  

  • Conservative = An arrogant SOB who if left unchecked will flush the US Constitution down the toilet in order to benefit big business and crush the common people. Example - George Bush.

    Liberal = An arrogant SOB who if left unchecked will flush the US Constitution down the toilet in order to "Better Rule the Common People" because they know what is best for us, we don't. Example - Al Gore, John Kerry,

    Independent = A rational human being. Example - Some Cranky Guy!

    Age range 45 - 64

    South Floria, USA.


    SCGwww.somecrankyguy.com

    By Anonymous scg, at 5:34 PM  

  • If anything, James, you can use these comments to gauge how one side describes the other. Pretty telling, if you ask me.

    By Blogger Val Prieto, at 1:45 PM  

  • This has been fascinating for me, Val. I'll be commenting on the comments shortly.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:16 AM  

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