If you're a liberal, what would make you turn conservative?

If you’re a liberal, what would make you turn conservative?

Nothing that I can think of.


Seriously? Context. Where (l)iberalism is well-entrenched, it’ll almost certainly become intellectually lazy, fall into routines, and become…well, conservative. (See France). In that kind of situation the conservatives will be the ones who develop innovative ideas and governance strategies. I wouldn’t likely agree with the ultimate ends, but the proximate ends and means may be attractive and/or necessary.

What would it take to adopt conservative ends, and/or mindset? hmm… a pair of apparently contradictory developments: a serious loss of faith in individuals and far greater respect for institutions/traditions; a greater estimation for the power of individuals to achieve ends regardless of context.

Does it easier to go in opposite direction? A social conservative turn to liberal?

A brain tumor, perhaps.

Seriously, even if I saw liberal policies failing or liberal politicians cheating, my reaction would be to fix the policies so that they work as intended, and to throw the bum politicians out and replace them.

Freedom is something I cherish, and would never abandon, even for perceived “security”.

A woman.

I am a fan of classical liberalism, which is about as related to modern liberalism as my left toe is to a sociological study of why the sky isn’t blue for ALL of us ALL of the time.

All these silly standards and jostling for the key positions of terminology are but mere dialectics.

That said, why surrender a flag to the conservatives, who have even less respect for their own polemical traditions, than most of my peaked liberal pals?

We would all do well to remember that in polemics, as in much of the quest for reality(however slanted), the truth is ALWAYS in the middle.

9/11 did it for me. I was in college and a flaming liberal at the time, and I certainly didn’t “convert” instantly on seeing the burning towers. I remained pretty liberal for a year or two afterwards, protested the Iraq War, etc. But I started to notice a rather disturbing similarity between liberal and Islamist sentiments: that the US and the West in general are evil and oppressors and brought 9/11 on themselves. Of course lots of liberal subscribe to an alternate view that we did nothing to bring on 9/11, but that 9/11 was the work of fringe maniacs.

That is when I decided to start investigating the roots of Islamic terrorism. I started reading the Qur’an and whatever books on medieval Middle Eastern and European history I could find. I learned that Islam is an inherently violent religion, has a long history of warfare against Christians and other non-Muslims, and while (thankfully) most Muslims are not jihadists, those that are are certainly acting in accordance with Islamic doctrine and tradition. That most liberals are blissfully unaware of the reality of Islam is a major source of contention between me and my former ideological brethren.

I am still fairly liberal on various issues, but I no longer blindly accept many of the liberal mantras I embraced in college. I don’t really like to think of myself as either “a liberal” or “a conservative”. I try to spend a lot of time reading and learning new things, and form my own opinions on issues as I learn. I refuse to adhere to any kind of party or ideological line.

Islam is a conservative religion.

Living in an overly politically correct bastion of liberalism, such as a university campus in North America. Hanging around lefties makes me want to turn right. And vice versa.

I don’t know any liberals who think that, gbh.

You seem to have liberals pegged as simpletons. My perception is that a lot of liberals and a lot of conservatives are more sophisticated than that. And a lot on both sides have simple-minded views, too. Stereotyping doesn’t help, does it?

It can be, but Christianity has a history of violence and oppression too. Those of either faith (and Judaism too) also have the choice to look to their faith for the positive and peaceful. You say “while (thankfully) most Muslims are not jihadists, those that are are certainly acting in accordance with Islamic doctrine and tradition.” We could say similarly negative things about Christians or conservatives, but such blanket statements aren’t really accurate or constructive, are they?

You normally seem to be very thoughtful and well spoken, and I respect your opinions. You shouldn’t accept mantras of either side, of course. But please don’t confuse the mantras of the extreme or unsophisticated liberal with the complex, rational understanding of the thinking liberal. I often make the same error in the opposite direction and have to remind myself of the same vis-à-vis conservatives. :blush:

I am actually rather liberal on a number of issues, but the combination of my conservative economic views and the fact that I don’t seem to fit into any of the clubs that qualify me for liberal protection send me towards the conservatives more often than not.

Certainly. During the Wendish Crusade, a group of German knights was given permission by the Pope to fulfill their vows not by fighting Muslims in the Holy Land, but traversing the Elbe River and conquering the Wendish pagans. The Pope was hesitant to spare such warriors, and unlike in the Holy Land Crusades, he insisted that the war be absolute: either the Wends had to completely convert to Christianity or be slaughtered. (As an interesting aside, this was another case that proves converts are the most fanatical of all the religious. The Wendish converts who joined the fighting in the Levant were famed for their bravery).

Also, a good argument could be made that Christians, throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period treated non-believers in their midst as bad or worse than Muslims treated their dhimmis. Dhimmitude in Muslim lands was not the utopia Muslim apologists make it out to be, but for the most part the dhimmis enjoyed long periods of consistently fair treatment. Infidels in Christendom lived in a greater state of flux. The most egregious example of course is the horrendous inquisitions that took place in Spain, Aragon, and Portugal after the Reconquista was completed in 1492. The remaining Jews and Muslims were given a simple choice: convert or die.

The difference, however, is that Christian violence is not doctrinal. As I’m sure you’re aware, a big source of contention between the Gentile Christians and the Romans was that families who had previously always sent their quotas of young men to serve the Empire now refused (the Jewish Christians were exempt like all Jews). Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” bit was taken at face value (no pun intended) and they refused to engage in any violence, even when they were subjected to official persecution by the Empire. Quakers and other small Christian sects still refuse to engage in violence of any kind.

I disagree. If a group of Christians got together and said they are going to invade a foreign nation and give the people a choice between converting to Christianity, accepting subjugation, or death, that would be completely out of sync with Christian doctrine. However, were Muslims to do the same thing, they would be following the Qur’an to the letter. Islam is not a “religion of peace” from a doctrinal point of view.

Having said that, I completely agree with you that normal Muslims can find a great deal of solace in Islam while simply ignoring the violent parts of the doctrine. And there are progressive imams that gloss over those parts or make a concerted effort to put everything into the proper historical context. One of the major problems happening now is that Saudi Arabia is often behind new mosque construction and renovation and insist that Wahhabist doctrine be preached or they’ll pull funding. That’s not good for the still small and struggling reformist movement.

I have argued previously that we do no favors to progressive Muslims by parroting the “Islam is a religion of peace” line, because that only serves to weaken their reformist platform. After all, why try to reform a religion of peace? That so many otherwise educated, intelligent liberals refuse to engage or accept any criticism of Islam, while at the same time taking every opportunity to bash Christianity, is a blatant hypocrisy that I can’t stomach.

Thank you for the kind words, and I very much feel the same way about you. I always look forward to getting your educated and informed perspective on any topic.

And as I said I still hold a number of liberal views. I just no longer assign that (or any) political label to myself.



I remember many years ago I went to visit my sister at UC Santa Cruz, which has one of the most liberal student bodies in the US. During conversations with some of her friends, I found myself being condemned for saying things that they didn’t consider “politically correct”. Here they were supposed to be liberals, but they were acting in a way I consider illiberal (i.e. restrictive of individual freedoms). It was an oppressive environment. I told them they have forgotten what it means to be a liberal.

The experience didn’t turn me off liberalism, because what they displayed was not liberalism. The same is true about the idiots who praise Che Guevara or who wear Osama bin Laden T-shirts: they aren’t liberals; they’re just nutcases.

9/11 didn’t turn me away from liberalism; it just confirmed to me the dangers of extreme conservatism on both the parts of the Islamic fundamentalists (few are more conservative than they are) and the GOP (who used it as an excuse to wage war on an unrelated country and to curb American freedoms).

It is precisely this philosophy that prevents me from being what I would call a “liberal”.

I simply don’t believe that throwing the bums out and bringing in new people works, because it is the system itself creates the bums. A political philosophy that says “Give of few of us at the top an enormous amount of money and power, we promise we will use it to do what’s best for all you little people” (the core of the liberal philosophy as I see it) inevitably corrupts whichever leaders you put in those positions of power.

Replace the bums as many times as you like, Chris. You are not going to change human nature. :s


I do believe that the system should be reformed to minimize the influence that money has on who wins the political campaigns.

I don’t know any liberals who think that, gbh.[/quote]

Me neither. I did see that kind of thinking among the Falwells and Phelpses of America (hardly liberals).

If mainstream conservatives would understand that a) Morality does not come from a divine power, and b) That another person’s relationship with God is their own damn business.

Throw in a reduced willingness of conservatives to support every damn-fool war that comes down the pike, and I’d re-register Republican tomorrow.

Since these are unlikely, I guess what would turn me (more) conservative would be spending a lot of time with Vegans and WTC conspiracy kooks.

Good points.

Actually, I can’t think of anything that would stop me from being a liberal, but I can think of things that could get me voting Republican. That would require a number of major changes within the party first. Among them:

  • Rejecting any connections to the Religious Right
  • Rejecting the agenda of the PNAC
  • Working to prevent, rather than enable, unethical business practices
  • Finally accepting gays as having equal rights (including marriage)
  • Adopting the pro-choice stance advocated by Giuliani (which is actually the stance most liberals adhere to)
  • Developing a kinder, gentler, humbler foreign policy
  • Taking environmental issues seriously and acting to solve them
  • Proposing workable health-care reform
  • Rejecting torture as having any legitimacy whatsoever
  • Honoring the Constitution
  • Stop lying.

In other words, move toward the likes of Ron Paul [edit: whoops, not Tancredo!] and Rudy Giuliani, and move away from the likes of Brownback and non-politicians like Limbaugh, Hannity and Falwell.

What would make me into a conservative:

  1. A friendly missionary visit
  2. A museum exhibit proving the young-earth theory
  3. Exposure to the arts (especially government-funded)
  4. A charismatic leader who whips fervor in the masses with a few well-chosen slogans like “I is the decider.”
  5. FOX News
  6. If other conservatives would just downplay their fondness for gay prostitutes
  7. IMAX Ultra-sound footage of aborted fetus crying out “Help me! Help me!”
  8. Colony of snail darters discovered right where I was going to build my fallout shelter
  9. President Ron Paul eliminates the IRS, as promised
  10. Chelsea Clinton’s 2018 presidential run

Your turn!