One must assume that all persons want a political system that does the most good. What that means and how it is to be accomplished creates a fundamental difference of opinion, that between liberals and conservatives.
The liberal-conservative split seems to be inherent in human nature, but it is not a complete split. Few people totally embrace the beliefs of one side and totally reject those of the other, but almost all people seem to come down mostly in one or the other camp.
The liberal-conservative split
seems to be inherent in human nature.
At its most basic level, the difference between the liberal and conservative viewpoints is whether people are seen as generally good or generally bad. The direction of this belief determines the desired focus of government. Liberals believe that people are generally good. Thus, liberals stand for the people, and believe that the entire purpose of government and every part of it is to promote the welfare of the people.
Conservatives do not trust the goodness of people. They believe there are significant numbers of people who cheat the government and avoid all work, and they believe these mostly are people of color. Accordingly, they believe in strong government to prevent the inferior kinds of people from cheating. Strength, they believe, comes from creating a system whereby a wealthy class are able to create wellbeing for all through capitalism and an unhindered free market.
To minimize the problem of slackers and cheaters, conservatives would minimize the size and role of government. The government doesn’t owe us a living, they say. They would virtually eliminate all payments to individuals from government funds.
Conservatives do not trust the goodness of people.
But, are there people the government should support? As it turns out, there are. People who are simply unable to provide for themselves because of age, injury, or illness. The government does, in fact, bear a responsibility toward such people, a moral responsibility it must not shirk.
There are also able-bodied people who need help. In today’s economic downturn, millions of people who have been honest, self-supporting workers suddenly found themselves out of work, with no jobs available. These good people lost everything, and found themselves vilified because they could find no work. The same thing happened during the Great Depression. Anyone who couldn’t find work was lazy and unproductive, until, stepping up for the war effort, all the former lazy slackers suddenly became proudly productive workers when there was work to be had.
There can be no doubt which side I come down on. I have seen nothing to make me believe that the rich will save us. I have seen plenty to show that the working public have the power to create widespread affluence, which is what happened after WWII, if only the rich will get out of the way.