One of the ways politicians and news media types like to mislead the voters is with false framing. Don’t be confused!
So often, the words “liberal” and “conservative” are thrown around without being clearly defined. Everyone is assumed to be one or the other, as if there are no other possibilities. Then everyone pretends that the contest is a battle of ideas between two ideologies. Is it?
I have studied politics for a very long time and I believe there are at least five distinct ideologies with little in common that are unfairly lumped together under the label “conservative.” I call them the neoconservatives, the libertarians, the nationalists, the religious right, and the pragmatists.
Neoconservatives are globalists. They are quick to project military power into other countries to defend the world. They support maximizing trade across borders and entering into international agreements on regulations, subsidization, and monetary policy that erode national sovereignty and make us all more interdependent.
Nationalists are anti-globalists. Their highest principle is the good of the country. They neither want to interfere in the affairs of other countries nor allow those other countries to interfere in our affairs. They want to bring the troops home. They believe in regulated borders and are okay with tariffs.
Libertarians are in between. Their highest principle is liberty. Like the nationalists, they want to bring the troops home and not be so quick to go to war, but like the globalists, they believe in open borders and free trade with anyone and everyone.
The religious right sees the family unit as the foundation of society and politics as downstream from culture. They believe in some liberty, but are happy to use the power of the state to steer culture into valuing liberty – or anything else they deem healthy. They believe that politicians are looked up to as role models and so insist on public perfection from them even when unimportant to the job. That way, they won’t corrupt the impressionable youth.
Pragmatists might have some beliefs of their own, but their highest principle is having a peaceful, functioning society where we all get along. They pursue compromises that give everyone what they want. They protect the minority from the will of a tyrannical majority. They slow things down and resist change, wanting to test policies out at the state level first before jumping into something unproven. They believe strongly in civility even to the point of sometimes failing to challenge dangerous lies.
What these five ideologies have in common is almost nothing. They have profound disagreements with each other all the time. The only thing they have in common is that they are all ideologies. That is, there are underlying coherent principles from which one an derive positions on the issues, from which one can derive positions on specific policies, from which one can derive positions on events, candidates, and parties. The only thing “conservatives” have in common is the use of reason and a belief in objective truth, though they disagree on who is being reasonable and what the objective truth is.
In contrast, “liberals” have no ideology. They have no philosophy. They start with positions on candidates and parties without basis in reality and work backwards from there. Most of them mindlessly repeat slogans that they do not understand the meaning of. When asked questions, they refuse to explain, telling the questioner that they are hopeless. Often, they throw insults and threaten people. They label all those who are yet unconvinced as racists, Nazis, Fascists, sexists, homophobes, bigots, warmongers, and corporate shills. Rarely, when I have been able to engage one in conversation for more than a few seconds, I find that they use circular reasoning, make non-sequitur leaps of logic, include facts totally irrelevant, exclude facts totally relevant, hold to contradictions, and lie constantly about everything. They play mind games with me by moving the goalposts, gaslighting me, and changing the definitions of words in the middle of a sentence, ignoring the context, and twisting my words around into something they damn well know I didn’t mean. They are nothing but bullies.
Conservatives fight for their goals. If they win, they stop fighting. For liberals, fighting is the goal. If they win, they keep on fighting for the fun of it. Liberals have no goals or ideals other than causing as much chaos, confusion, destruction, and death as possible. Every debate I have ever had confirms this, and I have done more to reach out and understand people than anyone I have ever heard of, so when I say it, my words have some weight.
Because “liberals” have no ideology and are so difficult to get a straight answer from, they cannot be classified into different subsets. Different “conservative” ideologies are considered different because they contradict each other. “Liberals” contradict themselves so much that there would have to be more ideologies than there are people.
Those are the six American parties.