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View Diary: Being a conservative...? (22 comments)

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  •  Progress (2+ / 0-)
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    rapala, Quotefiend

    Everyone claims to want to make things better, after all, no one would get elected if they claimed they wanted to make things worse. Progressives believe that things can be made better, but conservatives attempt to restore a past that may or may not have existed.

    Here's an analogy. A progressive and a conservative both look at a car, and agree there is something wrong with it. The progressive attempts to redesign the car to make it better. The conservative believes that the problem is having left old designs in the first place, and attempts to go back to an old design. The progressive gives us a more efficient car, the conservative gives us tail fins.

    Of course, this all assumes that these terms have objective meaning. Years ago, I remember a set of "old school" definitions: A radical is one who introduces new ideas, a liberal is one who implements them, a conservative is one who resists those new ideas, and a reactionary is one who attempts to undo these new ideas once they have been implemented.

    Each has their purpose. Without radicals, new ideas would never be generated. Without liberals, new ideas would never be implemented. Without conservatives, bad ideas would get implemented, and without reactionaries, bad ideas, once implemented, would never be undone. In this model, "radical" isn't necessarily what we would call "left", and reactionary isn't necessarily what we would call "right".

    But it doesn't have much to do with labels today. Today, conservative means whatever the Republican party wants it to mean. And too often, liberal means whatever the Republican party wants it to mean.

    But under the model that I referenced, if someone attempts to move back to a past that never existed, that person is a radical masquerading as a reactionary. Consider the Unitary Executive idea. It would be a really hard sell to sell this as a new idea, so the right pretends that they are just "restoring" power to the presidency that was taken away. They have recreated a past that never existed, a past in which the President was granted vast powers which have been eroded over time. The reality is that the Presidency has grown more and more powerful over many decades, not weaker.

    It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.

    by A Citizen on Sat Dec 29, 2007 at 12:47:43 AM PST

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