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Old 10-27-2009, 03:55 PM
 
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What would make someone a liberal as opposed to being a conservative?

I have seen these two terms written on this forum alot (Liberal is often used to describe NY, conservative would be, like Hick towns)

I think i kind of get the idea just from these places being called Liberal & Conservative, but what really makes NY a liberal town? (Just to help me understand what im getting myself in for)

From the bit i think i know about the concept i would like to think myself liberal (Pro-Gay/Lesbian rights, etc.) If that makes me liberal??

These terms arent used v. often in Ireland, thanks for the help guys
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Greater PDX
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Depends on who you ask. Both terms are generally used to disparage the "other side" - although "right wing" is probably more often used as disparagement than "conservative."

"Conservative" usually means in favor of less government, and that government resources should be spent on national defense, security/police, ensuring free trade, and limiting taxation. The social conservative movement (many issues, but the most visible one is anti-abortion) is intertwined in this as well. Obviously this is an overgeneralization, as there are fiscal conservatives who are not social conservatives.

"Liberal" tends to mean in favor of government resources going toward social welfare programs, is often characterized as supporting higher taxation. A strong membership of this is unions, environmentalists, and others who are more for economic protectionism.

Again, both of these are overgeneralizations. Both "sides" have their own pet liberties/freedoms that they champion and those that they oppose, so it's difficult to say one side is more in favor of "freedoms" than another.

I've seen an interesting diagram that breaks down political/social views not just as <----> left to right, but also statist versus libertarian. You can have conservatives that support the state enforcing certain viewpoints (the "religious right" tends to be categorized as such) just as easily as you can have liberals supporting the state enforcing certain viewpoints (carbon trading credtis, e.g.). I think this is a much more accurate way of viewing political beliefs.

You only identified one issue, but pro-gay-rights has historically been associated with the "liberal" political mindset.
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:56 PM
 
Location: New York City
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I think that a simple left/right, liberal/conservative linear classification is too simplistic. It is better to think of political leanings in terms of two axis - economic and social.

Economic conservatives favor less taxes, less government involvement in the economy, greater inequality. Economic liberals would favor more social programs, economic safety nets, some limitations on free trade, higher taxes, environmental protection.
Social conservatives favor traditional, often religious values. They oppose abortion, gay rights. Social liberals favor minority and women's rights, separation of church as state, legalization of "victimless crimes" such as smoking marijuana.

This organization is more flexible as someone can be economically conservative while socially liberal (say, Milton Freedman or Barry Goldwater). Or someone can be socially conservative and economically liberal (Mike Huckabee, many southern Democrats). There is also a foreign policy axis (dove vs hawk) which may or may not coincide with above definitions.
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Old 10-27-2009, 06:32 PM
 
Location: Town of Herndon/DC Metro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Shaft View Post
Depends on who you ask. Both terms are generally used to disparage the "other side" - although "right wing" is probably more often used as disparagement than "conservative.".

Many liberals (the "disparaging term") refer to themselves as "Progressive" for the same reason.

I am a Conservative and MrMarbles gave you an excellent definition.

Have fun in the US. I don't know where in Eire you're from but I'd love to live in Dublin
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:17 PM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
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Ideally "conservative" should mean one who emphasizes tradition, gradualism, and prudence. Liberal should mean one who favors the maximum amount of liberty, equality, and harm-reduction possible. John Shaft's explanation is probably closer to American use of these things.

Going by the polls I'd say big elements nearly universal to today's American conservatives are low-taxes, free-markets, peace through military strength, parental authority (consent laws on abortion), and a devotion to defeating an anti-Christian foreign ideology. In the past that last was Communism, now it's Radical Islam.

Liberals value equality, social progress, harm-reduction, and the "wisdom of experts." American liberals tend to prefer the scholar to the soldier or businessman, American conservatives are somewhat the reverse. Liberals restrict freedom more in the name of equality or harm-reduction than for reasons of national security or order. Unlike nineteenth century liberals modern American liberals tend to be skeptical of capitalism and believe it needs to be restrained to help the poor or bring a more equal society.

Both sides essentially reject the "ideal" or "classical" liberal idea of maximizing freedom and minimizing authority. Both sides also tend to reject the ideal or "traditional" conservative idea of prudence as they both tend to want decidedly imprudent things that will place us in massive debt. At the same time both sides tend to have a little bit of "liberalism" in that they generally talk more of freedom than tradition. They also both have a bit of conservatism in that they tend to mention "traditional" elements like God and family. An openly non-monogamous atheist would not have much chance of getting elected by liberals and an openly Christian Reconstructionist preacher would also appeal to few conservatives.

I think I'm more of an ideal/traditional conservative than an American conservative. I deem myself conservative nevertheless.

Last edited by Thomas R.; 10-27-2009 at 07:30 PM..
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Old 11-09-2009, 07:29 AM
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Location: Ohio
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The member who started this thread has indicated to me privately that the intent is NOT to discuss politics. As s/he put it "My question was sociological, about what type of people are liberal and what type are conservative."

Issues and candidates are off-topic in this forum. This thread must not discuss those things. Stick to the sociological and demographic aspects of the topic only.
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:55 AM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
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I think I was close to that hopefully. If not what I recall is that "conservatives" (in a sociological or temperamental sense) are more likely to be older siblings and/or people more easily disgusted or startled. "Liberals" tend to be younger siblings and/or people who did not get along with their fathers.

This does not really work in my case as I was a younger sibling who did not necessarily get along that great with his father, but I deem myself more conservative than liberal. However it may work anyway. I think the "oldest child" thing is partly about parental attention. Older siblings tend to get more of it in total as there's a period when they're the only ones getting any of it. The "father" thing might be about male authority figures in general. I could therefore fit the "conservative" more because as a disabled child I had to receive plenty of attention and I got along great with most priests. Lastly I traditionally am easily disgusted or startled if not necessarily by what startles or disgusts others. I used to wash my hands a bit obsessively and even as a little child I was less likely to tolerate getting my hands dirty. As a little child I would also cry or get very upset by fireworks. Also my relationship to my Dad was never bad and we get along good now.

Still there might be younger siblings with actual bad fathers who end up as conservatives without having the qualities I mentioned in myself. My guess would be this is maybe more likely if the "bad father" was liberal and they are in a sense rebelling from them or if they found a "replacement father" (any older male role-model) who was conservative.

In any event this theoretical idea has worked, to some degree, in liberals and conservatives I've met and in the cultural products they produce. Country music tends to be "conservative" and many of its songs do describe loving relationships to their fathers or a powerful desire to have had such a relationship. The TV series "Friends" might give a useful symbol of "liberal culture", in the sociological sense, as its a group of people not that easily disgusted (I seem to recall one was a surrogate mother for her own brother and another was willing to pee on a friends leg due to a jellyfish deal) who have created a "family" of friends rather than relatives. Not that this works a 100% though.
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Old 11-09-2009, 02:19 PM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker to new jerseyite ;)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas R. View Post
I think I was close to that hopefully. If not what I recall is that "conservatives" (in a sociological or temperamental sense) are more likely to be older siblings and/or people more easily disgusted or startled. "Liberals" tend to be younger siblings and/or people who did not get along with their fathers.

This does not really work in my case as I was a younger sibling who did not necessarily get along that great with his father, but I deem myself more conservative than liberal. However it may work anyway. I think the "oldest child" thing is partly about parental attention. Older siblings tend to get more of it in total as there's a period when they're the only ones getting any of it. The "father" thing might be about male authority figures in general. I could therefore fit the "conservative" more because as a disabled child I had to receive plenty of attention and I got along great with most priests. Lastly I traditionally am easily disgusted or startled if not necessarily by what startles or disgusts others. I used to wash my hands a bit obsessively and even as a little child I was less likely to tolerate getting my hands dirty. As a little child I would also cry or get very upset by fireworks. Also my relationship to my Dad was never bad and we get along good now.

Still there might be younger siblings with actual bad fathers who end up as conservatives without having the qualities I mentioned in myself. My guess would be this is maybe more likely if the "bad father" was liberal and they are in a sense rebelling from them or if they found a "replacement father" (any older male role-model) who was conservative.

In any event this theoretical idea has worked, to some degree, in liberals and conservatives I've met and in the cultural products they produce. Country music tends to be "conservative" and many of its songs do describe loving relationships to their fathers or a powerful desire to have had such a relationship. The TV series "Friends" might give a useful symbol of "liberal culture", in the sociological sense, as its a group of people not that easily disgusted (I seem to recall one was a surrogate mother for her own brother and another was willing to pee on a friends leg due to a jellyfish deal) who have created a "family" of friends rather than relatives. Not that this works a 100% though.
Interesting. I've never heard that. Where'd this theory come from?
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Old 11-09-2009, 02:52 PM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
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Startle Response Linked to Politics - washingtonpost.com

Birth order

Does Birth Order Determine Personality? - ABC News

Although there seems to be some dispute on it.

Birth order and political behavior - Google Books

I can't remember where I read the "relationship to father" thing. It might have been folk wisdom rather than a real study.

Anyway in the US there are demographic features that make you more or less likely to be conservative or liberal.

Married white Protestants are more likely to be conservative.
LDS-Mormons are roughly the most likely to be conservative. This is particularly true if they were raised in it and regularly attend church/temple. (Pew Research)
Among non-whites Cubans and Vietnamese are perhaps the most likely to be conservative.
Rural people tend to be more conservative.
In all the above men tend to be more conservative than women. As I recall this last one is also true of Europe and most societies.

Combine some of the above and you may get the most likely to be conservative. For example a married man from a small town who was raised Mormon, and still attends services regularly, should be highly likely to be conservative.

Irreligious people are more likely to be liberal.
Americans in non-Christian religions tend to be liberal, perhaps surprisingly that includes Muslims albeit to a lesser degree.
Unmarried people are more likely to be liberal.
People under 30 are more likely to be liberal.
People from "major cities" are more likely to be liberal.
As mention women tend to be more liberal, although this is most true if they've never been married.

Taken together an unmarried irreligious woman in a large city is highly likely to be liberal.

Last edited by Thomas R.; 11-09-2009 at 03:28 PM..
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:31 AM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker to new jerseyite ;)
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^^The birth order/father stuff is really interesting, if it holds up. I got some reading to do. Thanks for the links!
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