Originally created 06/27/04

Bone up on political terminology



Immediate classification prejudices all subsequent thinking, a probable root cause of the pejorative labels in published letters. Nevertheless, a lexicon of terms is useful.

l Conservatives prefer things as they were. They resist change and change agents. They promote conservative legislation and prefer judges with conservative opinions. Social conservatives see any compromise as sin. Fiscal conservatives - balanced budget advocates - are an endangered species. Neoconservatives would use U.S. military dominance to preemptively remove any perceived threat to the United States. The ethical tension between "compassionate" conservatism and neoconservatism is palpable.

  • Isolationism is vestigial tribalism: identified by "Kick out the U.N." and "Buy American" bumper stickers. It is a view which fails to understand that America became a power through world trade!
  • Realists take a pragmatic approach to problem solving. They believe that our independence, prosperity and security stand on a strong economy and a strong military. They respect, but are not bound by, world opinion. They weigh the political and economic value of foreign involvements. They advocate fair trade in marketing American products to the world. They agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. that "taxes are the price we pay for civilization."
  • Liberals are realists with a heart. They believe that "to whom much is given much is required." They favor economic, environmental, educational and health policies that lift all boats. They support a day's pay for a day's work, and charity for those unable to be productive because of circumstances beyond their control. They promote liberal legislation and prefer judges who agree with a liberal agenda.
  • Radicals take extreme positions, right or left, on the core issues of American politics.
  • In truth, diversity of opinion is democracy in action. Democracy works best when the balance of power compels bipartisanship in governance - a tour de force in realism.

    Tom Zwemer
    Augusta