Basic dispute:
It’s their world views that really divide conservatives, liberals

As the presidential season begins its endless chatter, it's important to remember there really are differences between liberals and conservatives and the two parties that no longer represent them well.

The Republicans, and the conservatives who are resigned to voting for them, have been infected by years of theocratic bigotry, hate-speech punditry, corporate bribery, election fraud, tyrannical secrecy, environmental disregard, anti-science know-nothingism and public-policy scams, including a catastrophic and unnecessary war, in which autocratic big government is passed off as democracy and good business.

The Democrats, and the liberals who are resigned to voting for them, have been infected by the imagery of Republican electoral successes. Though in recovery, they are still so compromised that it's hard to see that their follies are more pathetic than vicious, more inept than intentional, more copycat than pioneering.

Democrats do not have a theocratic, apocalyptic wing. They do not have a cadre of pundits who are willing to create monstrous images of their political "enemies." They do line up at the corporate trough, but they rarely devise dirty tricks on the campaign trail to ruin their opponents' reputations.

All in all, they tend to tag along, barking and reacting rather than presenting a set of ideas that honestly distinguishes them from the calamity that's befallen Republicans and conservatives.

There are good people remaining in both camps, I know. And in their finer moments, liberals and conservatives represented an honorable disagreement about the world. Perhaps during this election season it would be useful to keep the basic disagreement in mind.

From a left-wing perspective, it plays out like this:

Conservatives believe that human nature is not good, that humans require the constant pressure of moral authority from government, religion and the aristocracy of wealth to keep them on track. They believe might makes right, that the fittest deserve to flourish and the rest deserve to not do so well. They hold that life is fair, that hard work and merit always win out and that the wealthy and privileged got that way not by chance or the luck of the draw by birth, but through virtues the poor don't have.

Liberals believe human nature is basically good and that people should be left alone by government to develop their talents and imaginations. They believe, however, that life isn't fair - that chance doesn't respect talent, that the hard-working poor exist in their many millions with never enough capital to get ahead. They strive for a society in which no one is abandoned to poverty, starvation, injustice and violent circumstances. They do not believe that good ends justify any means, but rather that means determine the quality of results. And they distrust secret government.

A perspective of this disagreement from the right wing would be quite different, I'm sure.

V.B. Price is an Albuquerque free-lance writer, author, editor and commentator.
June 8, 2007