The difference between conservatives and liberals: … and the problem with that difference. I remember participating in a mock election in the third grade, 20 years ago, in a Montgomery County (Md.) elementary school about a week before the 1980 election. I think Reagan trounced Carter by 3-to-1 among my classmates. When the results were announced over the school loudspeaker, I put my head down on my desk, genuinely shocked at the margin. I tried to play it off. It was disquieting to realize that the cheering kids around me saw the world differently, even if they were just parrotting their parents’ opinions.

Conservatives and liberals take a fundamentally different approach to politics. Conservatives are driven by rage; liberals by guilt. Conservatives attack. Liberals equivocate. Liberals inhabit a world painted a thousand shades of gray. Conservatives live in a black and white world. Conservatives believe they are battling evil. Liberals believe they are struggling to overcome human frailties. … Tolerance is the watchword for liberals. Punishment is the watchword for conservatives. … A few days after the polls closed in Florida this past November, Republicans made it perfectly clear that if a court-ordered recount declared Gore the winner, they would fight the outcome all the way to Congress. On Jan. 6, 15 Democratic members of the House of Representatives rose to challenge Florida’s electors, citing a pattern of irregularities in the voting. Their challenge could not be heard unless one senator signed their petition. No Democrat would do so.

In January 1993, a liberal president took office. The Republicans were a minority in the House and the Senate. That didn’t stop them from waging war. Indeed, Sen. Bob Dole used the filibuster to an extent unknown in U.S. history to stop Clinton from enacting any significant legislation. For almost two years, Dole forced liberals to gain 60 votes, not 51 votes, to win. Does anyone believe Minority Leader Tom Daschle will embrace such a strategy?

I appreciate liberals’ devotion to tolerance and diversity. Really. But after a while I begin to think Robert Frost was right when he defined a liberal as someone “so broadminded he won’t take his own side in an argument.”

Leave a Reply