The Lost Values of Liberal and Conservative, Episode 2

In the company of liberal democrats, I become a community conservative. In the company of republican conservatives, I become a classical liberal. Both community conservative and classical liberal are birds of a feather. They naturally compliment each other because they naturally support each other. I call myself a genuine optimist because this is what I believe. I believe we are naturally meant to find agreement and consent. It is part of our divinity. Dark forces want just the opposite. They want confusion and not consent, they want division and not dialogue.

Let us first look at liberalism to see how it has been destroyed and replaced with divisive intents.

Liberalism is not what it ideally should be. It has regressed into a kind of political advocacy for the extreme while losing its equal voice for all. We should ask an honest question, is this good?

The least served in any society has changed for the liberal. We once viewed the least served as being the disabled, the ill-literate, the unemployed and the hungry. These were the least served in society, and many associated a genuine concern for serving the least as being liberal. However, today the liberal mind sees the least as being those with different sexual orientations, ideological ethnicity, or just about any identity issue. Here’s just a few:

  • Black people believing that cops specifically target them because of the color of their skin.
  • Feminists believing that men judge and treat them poorly solely based on their gender.
  • Women voting for a women because the US needs its first woman president to empower women.
  • People believing conservatives hate all women, Muslims, and Mexicans because they believe in nationalism.
  • People assuming that if you are a white male, your political ideology is trying to push white supremacy.

These are not issues that serve the least. They create division. This is what liberalism has become, divisive and contentious–a constant splintering of people apart into polarized groups.

If you believe these are universally true and apply to all people mentioned, then there is no way such a belief can come to an agreement with others. Tragically, such a belief can never sponsor a vision for all. That opportunity for building consensus with a unified vision is completely removed from the table of discussion. This is what hatred does. It keeps us from talking and it keeps us from coming together.

I love that word talking. For me, it once stood for the very meaning of liberalism. Take John Stewart Mill’s essay “On Liberty.” Published in the mid 1800’s,  Mill said something remarkable. He said “The silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.” The liberal left today, which is really the far left, does not believe in this principle anymore.

The lost liberal value is freedom, free-agency, the free press, and free expression, plus all the freedom needed to increase more transparency, more openness, and more collaboration. I am not saying the democratic party ever held these truths. What I am saying is that many of us at one time were taught that to be liberal meant to be an evangelist for these truths.

Is there any hope for bringing these truths back? Yes! We first need to start talking about the purity of liberalism against the backdrop of statism, which is not liberalism at all. True liberalism is a decentralized voice for all; statism is the centralized control of voice for a few. These are incompatible with each other, and we need to spread the good news that liberalism is reborn in its purity through new ways of free association. Hold on to that thought. Many episodes to follow will explain. Just keep this one beautiful truth in your mind, liberalism is to be freely expressive and open to channels of discussion with the goal of reaching the truth. Tell that to every social justice warrior and every political democrat you know. Wake them up to their true origins and let the restoration begin. Put aside the political and get back to original principle.

As for the conservative, what do you think it means? I would suggest that you not consult a dictionary right away, first ask a democrat what they think the word conservative means. You will find a lot of derogatory comments like tightwad, close-minded, warmonger, and the word capitalist is often used in the same negative tone.

Conservation or to be conservative means to protect value. It is central to a sustainable culture. Have you ever heard anyone use the following phrases:

  • The conservation of liberty in the hands that add value.
  • The conservation of wealth in the community.
  • The conservation of voice and vote together.
  • The conservation of responsibility locally.

All of these are rarely held in the hands of the people, something you think conservatives would jump on. Instead, the word conservative today is associated with a strong military, secure borders, protecting the second amendment (right to bare arms), free markets and a balanced budget. These are repeat slogans with no real call to action. Meaning, they are not principles; they are platitudes we take with no responsible action. Like the liberal, the conservative has given up the central drive to conserve everything possible that is good and to conserve value as locally as possible. Like the liberal, they have moved to national soundbites and have ignored the local plight of liberty.

For example. Compare the conservation of responsibility locally with the slogan free trade. Which one solves for the other? Does free trade conserve local responsibility? No! But does local responsibility conserve free trade? Yes!

More responsibility locally creates a decentralized market and this is closer to free trade. More responsibility locally is a definitive action. Conservatives too often have a motto or a slogan but no real call to act. If they had a real call to act that would solve for local issues of inequality, then liberals could jump on board. Unfortunately, free trade means nothing unless we can show how it creates more natural equality without the state getting involved. Until conservatives understand this, the liberal will gain power from time to time and push more responsibility toward the state in an effort to solve for inequality. It is the job of the conservative to keep the liberal focused on the community. This way individual liberty is also protected.

I am going to say a lot about conservatism and liberalism over the years and in many podcasts. For now, consider the following highest and best values of both conservative and liberal. It is high time we generate a renaissance with these in order to move the cause of liberty.

What is Conservative?

To conserve is to protect what is good. Conservatism is about about value, the freedom to create value and the liberty to conserve value. The following principles define what we should conserve the most.

  • Wealth conserved in the community is vital to its sustainability. Wealth is value. Adding and conserving value in the community is the purest expression of liberty, and conserving public wealth locally protects the liberty to add more value.
  • Responsibility in the community is vital to its freedom. When liberty to add value is taken away by statists, people become less responsible locally. Apathy grows and we depend on the state treasury for support. Therefore, the conservation of local responsibility empowers more local liberty.
  • Voice and vote together are central to a thriving culture and when kept together they protect the freedom to associate. The “Count My Vote” movement separates vote from voice. This is very dangerous and explains why “Keep My Voice” is so important. Having an equal vote statewide only empowers the wrong people to influence that vote, namely big money, the media, unions and establishment elites. The caucus system preserves both vote and voice within the same local system, which is immune to outside influence. Popular voting on a larger regional or statewide scale is very is destructive to voice. We should be improving the caucus system and not tarring it apart.
  • Religious and cultural fundamentalism can usurp wealth, responsibility and voice. When this happens we give up our liberty to more central control.

What is Liberal?

To be liberal is to be freely expressive and to open channels of discussion. The goal is truth, and free open discussion is the liberal approach to reaching truth.

  • “The silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.” Silencing discussion is not liberal; it’s authoritarian. Mill’s essay “On Liberty” and Locke’s essay on “Toleration” serve as classical foundations of both liberalism and liberty.
  • Common consent is better than central control, and definitely better than popular voting. The modern liberal has lost site of this. In order to increase more discussion, consent must be improved. When broken into modular form, increasing consent through both voice and vote is the best way to preserve liberty. Consent in modular form (a representative republic) eliminates the problem of power struggles and gives greater voice for all.
  • The community is the best level where liberalism can solve for inequality. When liberalism leaves the community to solve for inequality over many communities or over the state or nation, it usurps local liberty and shuts down both consent and discussion.
  • Classically liberalism is not statism, socialism, or communism, however liberalism can degenerate into these when it’s contempt for inequality pushes more central control. The only real solution to inequality is to push for more discussion, more representative consent, and more local liberty. When liberalism leaves its central pillar of discussion and toleration, it becomes authoritarian.

So there you have it. The lost values of liberalism and conservatism are reborn. Let’s give them a new life by giving them a new voice. That voice is Genuine Optimism, the hope that through common consent locally we freely associate as a people to surface better communities. These better communities will be united and not divided. They will lift ideas and not individuals. They will become thriving cultures and not power struggles. A renaissance is coming, can you see the early morning glow rising over the horizon? If you can, you are a genuine optimist. You have a solid foundation for your optimism, because you have the cause of liberty restored in your soul.

 

About the Author
Keith is the Author of The Political Optimist and you can follow him at genuineoptimist.com. He is a visionary founder of Local Common Wealth (see localcommonwealth.org) and co-founder of Vision Impact Leadership. He is a licensed general contractor at kelschconstruction.com and part time faculty member at Dixie State University.