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The Danger of Becoming a Conservative Liberal

April 26th, 2009 § 3 comments

oaxaca_singerIT SUDDENLY OCCURRED TO ME, on one of my thoughtfests…I was given a very liberal set of beliefs at a young age, and when, through living, many incidents confirmed some of those beliefs, the beliefs became more or less cemented in my mind.

As I live, I try to adjust my mindset and my ideas and my beliefs. Continually. To stay flexible. To not go blind to myself.

This flexibility, we could call, by definition, a “Liberal mindset.” However, while that was my desire and self-identification for the most part, what I’ve found in actuality is that unless I am aware and working against it, I tend to hold very tight to many of my ideas—not wanting to change them. This desire not to change one’s ideas could be called, by definition, a “conservative approach.”

So in essence, I found that I had a Liberal belief system (if not Radically so), but was adopting a conservative way of organizing and using those beliefs.


Conservatives will find it much harder to adopt the converse—a liberal approach to thinking. Embedded in their belief system itself is the reticence to move forward with new ideas. This is Conservatism, a tendency to reject change and revere tradition, often for no more reason that it is an older thing. We see today’s GOP heaving Cheyne-Stokes breaths because their philosophies are stuck for the most part in the past. And the world has moved past that era and seen that whatever may work, it is not the traditional ideas of the Republican party. This may kill of their party unless they can adopt a more liberal approach to using their Conservative ideas. Which seems a paradox, so we may soon see the natural death of a party that was built upon a paradox that by necessity would disable the very ideology once enough time passed.

Liberals will find it hard to admit that they are conservative in their approach. For one thing, the notion that not all elements of a Liberal’s mind are liberally arranged and organized is…somewhat offensive to a Liberal. Again, it goes against the very idea of being Liberal. Aside from my own experiences in challenging these ideas and some who hold them, I’ve watched the overall body of online blogalogue closely since 2006 with an eye toward change in one or a few areas.

But I say it is just as much a feat (and just as necessary) for Liberals to be liberal in their thinking as it is for Conservatives. However, it is not a failing of Conservatism to refuse this challenge. On the other hand, it is a failing of Liberalism if a liberal becomes too wed to their thoughts, the arrangement of same, and their approach to changing that arrangement.

Stephen Colbert famously said that “Reality has a Liberal bias.” We know what the joke was about, and moreover, it is funny because it is literally true as well as being a cutting political insight. When you remember what “liberal” actually means. Life is always upsetting our carefully arranged plans, ideas, and beliefs. Those of us who can move with these changes stay fresh, honest, relevant. Those of us who refuse what life is showing us—even when a new revelation requires the loss of a treasured idea—become rigid, calcified, and irrelevant. Regardless of whether or not we call ourselves “Radical,” “Conservative,” or “Liberal.”

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§ 3 Responses to The Danger of Becoming a Conservative Liberal"

  • sweetleaf says:

    i love how you think my friend, and the one of your many talents to spot the paradox. the tagging of anything automatically seems to compromise the integrity of what is, by the preconceived of notions/programming no matter the side. the open mind is the only way for a new experience. the open mind is the only way to avoid being predictable and maybe therefore manipulated?
    the only common mindset needed in this world, i think, is; peace, one love, and to pass it on. all can deviate from there:)

  • whatsername says:

    This is very true. I’ve never articulated it quite like this but I have found the rigidity in my own thinking sometimes and not terribly liked it. I think it’s human nature to want to find one’s boundaries and categories and then be done with it, but I don’t think that’s intellectually healthy, either.

    On another note, when I read this in Reader you have an Ann Coulter advertisement below it… >.>

  • nezua says:

    you both add great nuance/alternate angles/points. i agree with both right away! (except ann coulter. i dont really agree with her!)

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