Thinking about profound social change, conservatives always expect disaster, while revolutionaries confidentially expect utopia. Both are wrong.
Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world class boeuf bourguignon: if you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are unlikely to do it well.
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.
Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills.
The 1928 Republican Convention opened with a prayer. If the Lord can see His way clear to bless the Republican Party the way it’s been carrying on, then the rest of us ought to get it without even asking.
Most liberals never lost sight of the potential for evil in big government. They have consistently opposed government power in matters of personal and political belief. Liberals are not unconcerned with economic liberty, but they have come to believe that the common good requires that social justice be given a higher priority than absolute economic freedom. Conservatives are and always have been on the other side of both questions. They are much more prone than liberals to limiting personal and political liberties, but they place the freedom of an individual to do as he pleases in the economic realm at the top of their concerns. Social justice has held a lower priority for conservatives, from the days of Alexander Hamilton when they favored strong government as a means of protecting their economic privileges to the days of Ronald Reagan when they see government as an instrument of social justice and therefore a threat to their economic position.
Conservatism stands on man’s confessed limitations; reform on his indisputable infinitude; conservatism on circumstance; liberalism on power; one goes to make an adroit member of the social frame; the other to postpone all things to the man himself; conservatism is debonnair and social; reform is individual and imperious.
Democrats (I think to myself) are liberals who believe the people are basically good, but that they need government help to organize their lives. They believe in freedom so fervently that they think it should be compulsory. They believe that the poor and ignorant are victims of an unfair system and that their circumstances can be improved if we give them help. Republicans (I think to myself) are conservatives who think it would be best if we faced the fact that people are no damned good. They think that if we admit that we have selfish, acquisitive natures and then set out to get all we can for ourselves by working hard for it, that things will be better for everyone. They are not insensitive to the poor, but tend to think the poor are impoverished because they won’t work. They think there would be fewer of them to feel sorry for if the government did not encourage the proliferation of the least fit among us with welfare programs.
The same political parties which now agitate the U.S. have existed thro’ all time. And in fact the terms of whig and tory belong to natural as well as to civil history. They denote the temper and constitution and mind of different individuals.
The Democrats are the party of government activism, the party that says government can make you richer, smarter, taller, and get the chickweed out of your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then get elected and prove it.
American liberals and conservatives share much of the same political heritage. Originally the term Liberal referred to the political and economic ideal of liberating individuals from unrepresentative and arbitrary governments. Early liberalism set in motion patterns for the rule of law that would guarantee individual rights, representation in law making, access to the courts, and protection of private property. Both conservatives and liberals are Liberal in this sense. But whereas American conservatives of various stripes have continued to place primary emphasis on individual freedom, the autonomy of private institutions, and limits to government in the economic area, American liberals have more frequently appealed to government to advance the liberation of individuals from economic, racial, and political disadvantages in society as a whole.