Conservative vs Liberal


Pop culture’s perception is a little more harsh than the definitions below.  It is important to note that these two ways of thinking, which in and of themselves I think are great, are becoming more and more polarized in politics.  Conservatives are being perceived as racists, intolerant, nationalists, selfish, etc.  Progressives are being perceived as socialists, immoral, free loaders, irresponsible, etc.

This is definitely an ongoing conversation because even just trying to define these two labels is extremely difficult.  But, as mentioned in this post, labels at least give us a starting point.

By stepping away from how politics and culture try to pull us apart, we might start to see that these two approaches are really great book ends, holding up everything in between.

Progressive (Liberal)

To start off, liberals generally prefer the term “progressive”. That’s because the term “liberal” is often used negatively. “Progressive” is a better reflection of their values of change and progress.

A progressive essentially seeks to embrace change and new ideas.  Often efforts concentrate around the rights of the underserved and at risk, whether people or systems.

In lawmaking, a progressive believes in the concept of society, through government, “taking more responsibility for fixing inequalities” or holding certain sectors accountable. “Problems affect people (and systems) in real time. The longer solutions are debated or resisted,” the bigger the problem gets.

Mom Talk Politics Perspective

Progressives help challenge my assumptions and default thinking.

Progressives are like an engine, constantly moving us forward.


A “Conservative” essentially seeks to preserve and protect the values our nation was built upon.  Power should be in the hands of the people with government regulation used only as far as necessary.

In lawmaking, a conservative “seeks to keep society and government from ‘running faster than it has strength’. [They are concerned with] making responsible choices and not simply changing for the sake of change,” especially at the expense of individual liberties.

Mom Talk Politics Perspective

Conservatives help me stay anchored and less reactive.

Conservatives are like the break, slowing us down so things doing get out of control.


We need each other.    These two approaches exist everywhere – at work, in families, within organizations – and they often work in harmony.  Sadly in politics they have been hijacked by political parties that are constantly at odds with each other.

There’s got to be something we can do about that.



  1. I liked the cartoon that AK Smith included in his/her comment. Yes, we do all need each other and need to value the insights each person can bring to the discussion.

    Seeing Conservatives as ‘the thoughtful brake’ and the Liberals as ‘let’s get at the problem” helped me rethink the images I’ve learned to associate with these two groups. Over the years the media has been more interested in the shouting matches that erupt between the two groups. Each group’s values have been buried.

    Thank you, Emily, for uncovering the idea that Conservatives and Liberals are 2 halves of the same coin and, as AK Smith suggested, we need better conductors to help them orchestrate working together better.

    A moderate political group could do that. A moderate group of people who understood what is important to conservatives and liberals so as to draw out the best of each. I believe that ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are words that describe an individual’s world view. It’s not an adjective for a political party.

    I like these ‘new’ definitions and will begin using them as I talk with my group of friends about politics !


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