Thursday, September 24, 2009

Duck and cover - it's raining liberals and conservatives!

All right. I'm about to post something inordinately controversial. Not because I'm trying to stir up a hornet's nest, but because I'm honestly trying to understand something about America. With that caveat, please don't harangue me in the comments! ::grin::

Everyone will agree that there are "liberals" and "conservatives" out there. And that often they are completely in opposition to one another on a whole host of issues. So what I'm endeavoring to do is come up with some broad definitions of various types of liberals and conservatives. It won't be comprehensive, but hopefully it will help me see the differences - and similarities - that the differing ideologies hold. I've tried to be fair, as well. Regardless of my own position, I want to be respectful of what others believe even though I may disagree. I added a few citations, but I also referred to Wikipedia a lot for individual designations and to clarify/condense particular positions. So here it goes:


Fiscal Conservative: Advocates a reduction in overall government spending, deficit and national debt reduction, and balancing the federal budget. Free trade, deregulation of the economy, and lower taxes are also key points.

Neoconservative: Focuses on a robust national security, an aggressive foreign policy, stimulating economic growth by lowering taxes, and finding alternative ways to deliver public welfare services.

Paleoconservative: Concerned with preserving the American culture. Also emphasizes a connection with the past, and tend to be family-oriented, religious-minded and opposed to the vulgarity permeating modern culture.

Social Conservative: Adheres strictly to a moral ideology based on family-values and religious traditions. US social conservatives are mostly right-wing and hold firmly to a pro-life, pro-family and pro-religion agenda.

Crunchy Conservative: Tends to focus more on family-oriented, culturally conservative concepts such as being good stewards of the natural world and avoiding materialism in everyday life. Often as mistrustful of big business as they are of big government.

1. U. S. Conservatives (from
2. Mark Levin, Liberty and Tyranny


Socio-economic Liberal: Does not believe in the fairness of market outcomes and sees a legitimate government role in promoting efficiency and more equitable wealth distribution. Not concerned about civil issues over much, but are quite interested in government regulation of the economy.

Statist Liberal: Believes in a strong centralized government, which includes a major role in the direction of the economy, both directly through state-owned enterprises and indirectly through the state-directed economic planning of the overall economy. Also sees the Constitution as an evolving contract, and sees the need of government to modulate 'mob rule'.

Minority Rights Liberal: Focuses on the civil issues, ranging from implementing a safety net for the needy to the extreme of a totally managed economy. Seek to assist the poor/minorities through taxation policy, government welfare policies, nationalization of portions of the American economy, and strong government regulations.

Environmentalist Liberal: Focuses on environmental conservation and improvement of the state of the environment. Also seeks to influence the political process by lobbying, activism, and education in order to protect natural resources and ecosystems.

Civil Libertarian Liberal: Believe in the supremacy of individual rights. Believe that the government should not pass laws that restrict, oppress, or selectively fail to protect people in their day-to-day lives, whether the issue is pornography, gay marriage, drug legalization, or prostitution.

Anti-Authoritarian Liberal: Concerned with the moral legitimacy of governance and seek democratic reforms to government and corporations. They applaud appeasement, reparations, and apologies for past injustices. Often they hold the philosophical idea that people are not bound to any non-human authority.

1. Liberalism and Conservatism
2. Democratic Underground
3. Progressive Policy Institute


Darren said...

I would have one minor quibble with the "neoconservative" definition, because in my (limited) experience, the "diplomatic foreign policy" tends to be conducted with bullets rather than words, which isn't my definition of "diplomatic."

Zana said...

You're right, Darren. I went back and checked my notes and realized I goobered up my "cut and paste" job in the blog text. Oops. ::sheepish grin:: Thanks for pointing that out!

Blondie said...

By these definitions, I am a neo-/paleo-/social conservative. Is there a combo type? :0) (or am I just an extreme right winger?

Zana said...

Blondie, maybe you should just claim "Conservative"... with a capital "C"!


Actually, that's something I'm interested in... how the different "categories" overlap, and how common that is. I know I fall into several. And there are some who are, say, fiscally conservative yet liberal on other points.

That's why I thought the first best step for me was to try to peg some categories, and go from there.