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What makes a liberal?

I read this article today and I'm curious what the liberals and conservatives will have to say about this whole line of though. For those of you who want a quick quote to get the juices flowing:

At the heart of liberalism is the naive belief that people are basically good. As a result of this belief, liberals rarely blame people for the evil they do. Instead, they blame economics, parents, capitalism, racism, and anything else that can let the individual off the hook.

You really gotta read the whole thing because it is very well thought out.


Haven't read the link yet... but kinda surprised at the first statement: At the heart of liberalism is the naive belief that people are basically good. I thought that was the heart of Republicanism? The idea that government wasn't necessary for things like welfare and charity, because individuals and private organizations would take care of that need.

I'll read the whole article later... when I have a few free minutes...

Maybe this is what Winston

Maybe this is what Winston Churchill had in mind when he said "If you're 20 and not a liberal then you don't have a heart, but if you're 40 and not a conservative then you don't have a brain."

Yeah, except

Churchill never said that and that's not even how the quote goes.

The quotation usually attributed to Churchill is, "If you're not Liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not Conservative when you're 35, you have no brain." However, the attribution is false. There is no record of Churchill ever speaking these words, and it is highly unlikely that he would have because Churchill himself did precisely the opposite. He entered politics as a Conservative and was a Conservative at age 25. He switched to the Liberal Party at age 29 and was a Liberal at age 35. (He returned to the Conservatives at age 49.) Also, his beloved wife, Clementine, was a life-long Liberal, and Churchill would hardly have delivered such an indirect insult to her. It should also be remembered that "Liberal" and "Conservative" are the proper names of British political parties and do not translate precisely to the left and right wings of the American political spectrum. Source

Nothing interesting in the article

Mr Prager begins his article "I have long believed that most people, liberal or conservative, mean well. Very few people wake up in the morning planning to harm society." A few sentences later he criticizes liberals for believing "that people are basically good." Didn't he just say he believes that?

Prager claims that liberals think "talking with people who do evil is always better than fighting." This is obviously false--how many liberals supported attacking the Taliban and Al Qaeda? Almost all of them. He then cites "negotiate with the Soviets" as an example of such naive liberal claims. Even conservatives like Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger realized that negotiations with the Soviets, not fighting them militarily, was the the sensible policy in a nuclear world.

Prager then resorts to calling liberals "child-like" and rants about how they should grow up. He then claims that university professors are immature because they've never left school.

Prager's rants continue, but he doesn't mention anything worthwhile or "well thought out" as dJake erroneously claims.

Yeah right.

If liberalism is based on the theory that all people are naturally good, then why do they support the welfare system? Why don't they just gives us our money back as long as we agree to take care of the poor? Why do they believe in a graduated tax system if they believe that the rich are naturally benevolent? There are lots of examples that obviously prove that liberalism is NOT based on idealism.

Liberalism can more accurately be described as in idealogy that supports a plethra of government institutions designed to enforce a level playing-field. This is coupled with the facade of "civil liberties" that are more representative of moral-unboundedness, going directly against every intention that our Founding Fathers had. Gay marriage, the banning of religion from schools, and "free speech" protection of child porno are included in a long list of issues supported by liberals that make Washington and Co. turn in their graves. It's funny that I couldn't pray in my high school and yet teachers didn't care when students were caught looking at bizzare bukkake-bestiality-bondage porno in the library.

May God have mercy on the liberal soul.

public welfare and education

"Best articulated stance I have ever heard on the subject"? Mr Marbles doesn't even use paragraphs correctly—he has 15 sentences on a number of topics crammed into one paragraph. His first sentence is a fragment and he doesn’t use topic sentences.

Mr Marbles claims that “Heavenly Father clearly made the distinction between secular and ecclesiastical government” but fails to note when and where he did that, and what specifically Heavenly Father noted were distinct between the two and how that leads us to the conclusion that government should not censor. Mr Marbles also fails to show how censoring is “act[ing] as God” since he first implies God does not censor us so as to allow full exposure to temptation. In the same sentence he states that God does censor (and implies by his logic that God does not “[believe] us to be strong enough to overcome it”) by saying “censor us more than He has.”

Regarding social contracts and the nature of government, Mr Marbles states, “poor uneducated people…do not have reason to break the social contract” which defends his inalienable rights. He then claims that that they are susceptible to totalitarianism which threatens his inalienable rights. He never connects to the two contradictory sentences that follow each other. Mr Marbles also neglects that the most well known totalitarian governments (if you can really call them that) of the 20th century arose in countries with relatively less need of public welfare than their neighbors (Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Hussein).

And of course, the rest of the post is more of the same.

Personally, the argument that public welfare and education protect freedom and rights is without a doubt the weakest argument I have heard for the policies.

And why would anyone care what Mr Marbles thinks about vouchers when there are so many informed and intelligent experts on the subject?

american politics

Well to start off, I am not an American citizen, but an international student at BYU. I am just observing the debate here, and was just curious about how the american politics works.

Why is there just a left and a right, or liberal or conservative in this country. Doesnt anyone have a moderate path.Personally I prefer the economic policies of the Republicans and social policies of Democrats.

There are many people here especially at BYU who claim to be Republicans just because everyone else is and the fact that for some reason it is immoral or evil to be Democrat. I know from a personal experience, that some of my American friends voted Republicans for Utah governor and local elections, without knowing the agenda and all that. Their explaination was that Republicans are christians and they will ban gay marriage.
Isn't Harry Reid a perfectly good memmber of the Church or others who are religious and also happen to be a democrat? Don't tell me that they is an exception.

Just another comment, is that I feel America is loved by the world more for its liberal policies than its crazy conservative policies? It is the seperation of church and state, freedom of speech, which set it apart from other countries and one of the reasons what makes people want to immigrate to this country.

Is elijahambrose in law school or an english major? No offense intended. That was a very detailed analysis of the post my MrMarbles which I really enjoyed reading and agree with.

My communist liberal anti-conservative experience

So tonight my wife and I (and boys) are driving back from Springville and this bum comes up and asks for money. My wife looks for some cash (I almost never carry cash-- I'm a debit kind of guy) and fails to find any. He tells us he needs a hotel room for the night, already has twenty bucks, and needs eight more. We tell him to climb in the car and we'll pay the difference.

He got in the car and gave me the twenty dollar bill. He stunk of mouthwash that was an attempt to cover up his very obvious drunkeness. We got to the hotel (a dump on Center street) and spent eleven dollars making sure he had a place to stay the night.

When we got back in the car, we felt depressed that someone was so far down in life that he'd have to beg his way for a place to stay at night. We tried to hypothesize what kind of thing would drive someone to that. Had he suffered some sort of tragedy? Did he just let a bad habit ruin his life? What events had left him a homeless alcoholic?

After a few minutes, we didn't feel any annoyance at him for guilting us out of money, and we didn't bother questioning whether or not we'd been swindled. I went into the bedroom to change out of my church clothes and walked into the living room to see that my wife had assembled some food, clothes, hygiene goods, a picture of our family, and a copy of the Book of Mormon in my backpack. She instructed me to get a nice shirt, some slacks, and decent shoes this guy could use for a job interview. With those last few things, we must have had close to $200 worth of stuff in that backpack.

I drove back to the hotel and went to his room. I smelled the alcohol mixed with pot this time (hey, I grew up in Oregon, that's how I know what it smells like). He didn't even remember me. But I asked him if I could come in and we went through the backpack and the sack of food we had packed. He wouldn't stop saying thank you and hugged me twice. I spoke with him very directly about his drinking, but in a non-judgmental sort of way. After walking out, I couldn't help but think about King Benjamin's famous speech that said, "Are we not all beggars?"

Anyhow, in all reality, the guy probably will toss half that stuff. I doubt he will ever even look at the Book of Mormon. The family picture my wife included will probably be in the dumpster tomorrow morning. All that stuff could have gone to a charity and been distributed better. And people like us probably keep this guy, to some degree, from getting serious about finding a form of employment.

But maybe not.

Maybe tonight was a turning point in his life. Maybe he'll wake up tomorrow resolved to clean himself up and find a job. Maybe he'll even read a chapter in the BOM that makes him feel closer to God. Maybe he just needed someone to restore his faith, and tonight he got it, and tomorrow he starts to become a productive member of society and, in turn, finds others he can help.

So this post isn't to make myself look great, or to prove anything. It's only to say that whatever this guy does with his life, my wife and I did something, instead of nothing.

It felt good.

Good job Farker

You did exactly what King Benjamin told you to do. You lived your religion rather than just talking about it on Sunday. May we all follow the Spirit as you and your wonderful wife did.

lol. A fine example of why


A fine example of why political discussions and relgion do not mix. It is alright to have one or the other but mixing the two... it gives me a headache. The comments posted backed by self righteous garbage are spun so many, many ways. is it possible to prove a point without on the realm of politics without involving God?

I think this is the underlining reason I hated living in the Provo environment is because everything done was justified by "God" this "God" that, and despite being a fan of "God", it made me want to scream at the top of my lungs "God ....." but then I stopped, refrained and moved away.

On the topic of defining a liberal or a conservative, the views have been too narrow, guided by absolute answers - black and whites. Whereas the majority of individuals that are in either/or group live in shades of grey. Not completely one way or the other.

The article itself paints a box around all liberals overusing " " as to confine the viewpoint to the authors perspective. The article could have esaily been reworked and tooled to the effect of "What makes a conservative?" with the same principles.

I stand corrected. But even

I stand corrected. But even if Churchill didn't say it, I think there's some truth to the meaning of it. When you get older, pay more taxes, raise kids in an increasingly morally depraved world, you can't help but wonder if that's the best way to do things.


I was going to comment, but then elijahambrose said everything I wanted to say. Thanks!

I will simply add that Conservatives who psycho-analyze Liberals - or vice-versa - are not the best source for sincere, un-biased analysis. I think Mr. Prager is no exception to this general rule.

BTW, I've noticed as I grow older I get more liberal.

But that's probably just the senile dementia setting in. :)

"He then claims that

"He then claims that university professors are immature because they've never left school."

maybe not entirely because they have never left school--but--in all my experience as a college student dealing with professors (2.5 years)--(realizing i know i am not nearly the most mature peron on my block) i have found this to be truer than the bible itself

thomas sowell: a conflict of visions

i haven't read it yet (it's on the wishlist) but thomas sowell wrote an acclaimed book on the subject: a conflict of visions.

if i had read it, i might attempt to give a summary of the book here. instead, i recommend people read the reviews at amazon. they describe sowell's book as very even-handed an enlightening. here's the first part of one review:

Why do liberals berate conservatives as hard-hearted, morally repugnant, selfish caricatures of cartoon fatcats; while conservative will grant the liberals' their good intentions but remind them that road to hell is apved thusly by their wooly-headed, ivory tower schemes? And why are liberals castigiated as slick, short-sighted, and interest group-driven, while conservatives are lampooned as dumb, corrupt and morally evil?

These are just two of the questions tangentially answered by Thomas Sowell in this important book on the taxonomy and structure of our political debate. This work is sure to stand for the remainder of the century as *the* reference point from which dueling political frameworks are engaged.

that link again

Political Culture not Liberal Culture

The very fact that God has allowed there to be pornography and in general the opportunity to be unchaste is indicative that he believes in the inherent goodness of his children. He has given us a temptation and that is evidence that he believes us to be strong enough to overcome it (1 cor. 10.13). The government should not take it upon itself to act as God and censor us more than He has. Heavenly Father clearly made the distinction between secular and ecclesiastical government and we should respect that difference.

As far as support of welfare and public education- the government is a social contract formed in order to defend our inalienable rights. The representatives of the government must act to defend the integrity of that contract. Welfare and public education are necessary to ensure the continued viability of that contract. Poor uneducated people have reason to be unsatisfied with the world (as they are poor) and do not have reason to break the social contract (their lack of education means they do not understand the implications of breaking it). Well run welfare and public education programs help us maintain our rights as totalitarian government is less likely to rise to power without an uneducated proletariat to support them. So I support welfare programs not because I feel that people need to be prodded to do the right thing and clothe the naked and feed the hungry- I support it because it lessens the risk to my inalienable rights. And don't suppose that I support welfare or public education programs as presently constituted. I support the concept of welfare and the concept of public education but I feel that many reforms are needed. A good book about the reforms needed in education is 'The End of Education' but Neil Postman. V.quality book. Anyways- this doesn't have much to do with the article. As far as that goes- Prager's a daft partisan hack. He apparently neglects to notice the failure on both sides of the aisle to have a unified defendable ideology. His article is more a description of political culture than a critique of liberals on the left. The basic tenet on both sides seems to be 'if it's my opponent's idea- it must be wrong' and not 'this particular policy fits my view of the role of government so I will support it.' I feel that the collection of policies represented by today's liberals are generally more correct than conservatives. However, I feel that they do a bad job defending those positions. There is a general dearth of real discussion of what is fit for the government to do and mostly the argument has centered itself around allocation of funds.

As far as school prayer- a Catholic prayer and a Mormon prayer are not the same at all. So whose do we use? Do we pray to the virgin? Do we plead to the saints? There is a reason that church and state are seperate. And a public school funded by the government is not a place to institute a state religion. It doesn't matter that we are all christian- We do not worship in the same manner and I do not want to be obligated to say a catholic prayer that in all honesty is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

That article is really rich.

That article is really rich. This guy sounds like he's been preaching to the choir so long his brain has gone soft.
Is this how conservatives talk when they think no one is listening? What a hoot! Where should I start?
His whole thing on education is hilarious. It really shows a contempt for education itself. What a moron.
It also backs up something I've long believed, which is that conservatives generally don't like school except for
the fact that it helps them make money. Or, I should say, more money than the next guy. Thus they have little
interest in the humanities, which represent the very essence of what it means to be an educated individual and
citizen. And this junk about it being naive to believe people are basically good. What a cynical scumbag.
This has already been said, but what would have happened if we had not used restraint and negotiation in the
cold war? We wouldn't even be here!!! What is this loser smoking anyway?? What an ignorant creep. And this "child-like" nonsense. No retard, the more educated you are the more nuance you come to understand and appreciate. Seeing the world as good vs. evil (only two black and white choices) is what's infantile and a demonstration of the fact that it is possible and even common to graduate from college without much common sense, let alone being educated. Give me a break!
By the way, those of you who think we have the "right" to have school-wide Christian prayer are dumb as a post.

dichotomous politics are silly

yahoo, I think you make an excellent point regarding dichotomous politics. There are innumerable moral, economic, and legal issues considered in politics today and to espouse any one political ideology as the solution to all of them only produces suboptimal results. Personally I have preferred solutions to the problems, but I don’t describe myself as liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. I consider each issue individually.

Regarding moderates: in all honesty, America’s left and right (at least the parts represented by elected officials) are quite moderate compared to most other parts of the world. Since the United States prefers two dominant parties, both parties are required to move toward the center to gain wider support, whereas in many party systems each can grab their own niche and be extreme and still be represented. Obviously there are many differences between the two parties, but at the same time it is surprising to see the many issues they agree on (take a look at all the laws that are passed with majority support from both parties).

Most Republicans do in fact disagree with the majority of the Democrats’ platform (that is, the part that’s different from the Republicans), and visa versa. The majority of Republicans at BYU do believe that you can be a Democrat and a fine LDS—but that doesn’t mean their policies aren’t whacked.

It’s really very debatable which policies earn the United States the most respect in the world. Arguably many more people came here for free land (part of the original Republican platform) than freedom of speech (also part of that platform). You might be surprised how many people in the world respect America for its relative religiosity (i.e. The Economist) and (relatively) low taxes and (somewhat) free economy

Because you asked: Economics.

Relatively less need of

Relatively less need of public welfare than their 'neighbors'?
Germany after Versailles was struggling with rampant inflation and drastic war reparations. The general economic situation was compounded by Heinrich Bruning's(the German chancellor from 1930-1932) disastrous policy response to the great depression. Bruning decreased welfare spending and reduced wages. All of this allowed the NSDAP to be voted into power by the German people and the Weimar republic was no more. I'm not sure what 'neighbors' you were talking about but what matters is that the German people were poor and thus it was easier for a totalitarian monster to come to power. Despite the presence of a communist party in the US during the great depression, our democracy did not fall. I feel- and I'm sure many 'experts' would agree that this is largely attributed to FDR's new deal policies.

What neighbors are you even talking about? How can you possibly defend the position that the populations of these countries weren't influenced by their general poverty? Or what alternative reasoning do you offer to explain their democratic governments falling(here I'm talking about Italy, Germany and China - not Russia)

As far as whatever you had to say about my paragraph structure- I'm baffled at your blatant use of an Ad Hominem attack. So what if I didn't use topic sentences- the world articulated has nothing to do with that so I'd suggest you look the word up before affirming that something does not have that characteristic.

if you only had a brain

I really enjoyed your comment, I wish that more people could use the space between their ears, often and before they speak....

thanks for that post. it

thanks for that post.

it gives me hope.


A wonderful story. Well done!

incredibly stupid article

At the heart of liberalism is the naive belief that people are basically good.

I was just looking at the GOP platform and the start reminded me of this incredibly stupid article.

It starts "Ronald Reagan believed that people were basically good" President George W. Bush.


"But that's probably just the senile dementia setting in."
damn straight

Good take, we'll rack it

What you said about welfare and public education is probably the best articulated stance I have ever heard on the subject. I'd be interested to hear what your take on a voucher system would be.

I've never been a fan of school prayer for the reasons that you listed, but it has always seemed hypocritical to me that access to porn is guaranteed and the right to pray to God isn't. And I'm not so much as leaning for school prayer but arguing that if that can be limited or tossed out of a public institution, then why can't access to porn be limited from a public institution as well?

Just out of curiosity, what conservative view points do you agree with?


Free agency has nothing to do with whether man is "naturally good" or "naturally bad". If you are a Mormon then you believe that the natural man is an enemy to God. I.E.: He loves the things of this world, trusts in the arm of the flesh, doesn't help the needy, etc, etc...
End of story.

I agree that government should not censor us from every evil. Not only would this be impractical to implement, it would also introduce a moral relativism into what should or shouldn't be allowed in our society that would only lead to arguments.

Regarding your rambles about welfare and the education system, I'd just like to point out that BEFORE the industrial revolution, BEFORE the age of ease and luxury, and BEFORE the everlasting truth of the Gospel was restored, this country got along just fine without the welfare system. I know the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and farm incorporation had much to do with the TEMPORARY need for welfare, but I believe that need no longer exists.

I have nothing against public schools and I believe that affirmative action, need-based scholarships are well used in circumstances involving the poor and needy. However, the welfare program has done more harm than good. Among other things, it has taken the Father out of the African American family and replaced him with the government. The retroceding black culture is much worse than it was 30 years ago just after the Civil Rights movement. If you disagree, you're kidding yourself.

If you want to level the playing field, why don't you consider supporting a 100% death tax to take away the fortunes of people like the Kennedys. Pump that money into teacher's wages instead of perpetuating the Kennedy azz-clown show in Congress. By the way, Ted Kennedy is the prototypical liberal. I'm from the D.C. area and everyone who has anything to do with politics knows that he's the flagship disaster of idiocy that leads the sinking, liberal fleet.

Finally, I don't believe we should pray in Church. I was just pointing out the irony of my situation: I was not allowed to pray in class while my friend could look at porno on the computer next to me without the teacher caring.

There's no doubt that Satan is behind the Liberal movement. It makes him happy to see how critical they are when people like Karl Rove forget to tie their shoelaces. Liberals have no issues, they can only argue and throw fits like 2-year-olds. Tell me if you can think of a Liberal agenda or issue. I'd love to hear about their idea[s]!

"I feel- and I'm sure many

"I feel- and I'm sure many 'experts' would agree that this is largely attributed to FDR's new deal policies."

News flash: We're not in the Great Depression anymore. Although it's true that class divisions are growing and the middle class is shrinking, I believe these circumstances can largely be attributed to the ghetto culture encouraged by welfare and the national embrace of hip-hop and rap music.

I grew up in Northwest Washington D.C. My Father worked for the State Department during the Clinton administration (yeah that's right, my parents are Democrats) and enjoyed the diversity of a mixed-race high school. After my conversion to the Mormon Church at age 17, and my enrollment at BYU, my parents, who are "Catholic" be tradition, left me to fend for myself. During this time of struggle as I prepared to serve a mission, I took great pride in defending the minority, liberal positions on many cases.

Then I went on my mission to the Canary Islands.

When I went to the Canary Islands, I saw what America will likely be in 10 years if the liberals had their way. Everyone is on welfare. Over half of a Canarian's income is given to the government. No one has extra money. There is no upward mobility. The schools are terrible because there are not enough taxes raised to pay the teachers well. In short, the high taxes and multiple government/ EU agencies that control the islands have stifled the economy, passified the poor, working class, and left Canarians with the apathy for work that is so stereotypical of Spaniards.

It dawned on me that Spain, one of the more liberal countries in Europe, had a problem: the freedom they attained after a totalitarian dictator left had corrupted their culture. Drug use was rampant. American "culture" of rap music and violence had encouraged youngsters to become more violent and disrespectful to parents. Spain's unemployment rate is high because no one cares when they lose their jobs: the government takes care of them. In fact, there is a law on the books in Spain that everyone MUST have a house (shelter). If one cannot afford a house, the government provides one.

I've been to the ghettos of D.C. and I can tell you that the people that live in the ghettos of the Canary Islands are more apathetic, more subdued and have less hope than the people in Southeast D.C. This is for one main reason:
-The government gives them too much.

You cannot argue for conservative values until you apply them to your own life by working your butt off and paying your own bills. You cannot fully appreciate conservative causes until you've been a "liberal" (or at least a brainwashed liberal) and crossed over to the other side. I don't care what your "opinion" is. I've seen how both agendas and both schools of thought work firsthand. I've been there. There's nothing you could say or do that would convince me otherwise.

monetary responsibility not welfare insanity

What Germany needed was sane war reparations and monetary responsibility, not a public welfare system. Do you think that money grows on trees? That idea is what caused Germany's inflation problems.

Public welfare is arguably most justifiable in two situations--education and health care. Relative to many of their neighbors, the countries I mentioned were better educated and healthier.

An argument without structure and flow is hardly articulate--look it up.

ha ha ha

then there are those of us who wouldn't trust the space between the ears of people like you (Board_of_Provo) to speak at all!!!
(no matter how much though you put into it beforehand)

Being educated.

...the more educated you are the more nuance you come to understand and appreciate.

Which I'm sure is why provojoe is his condemnation of the author.

What a moron.

What a cynical scumbag.

What is this loser smoking anyway??

What an ignorant creep.


...dumb as a post.

There's no doubt that Satan

There's no doubt that Satan is behind the Liberal movement.

Please. President Faust is a liberal. The vast majority of the church was part of the Democratic Party early on, and members even spoke out against Republican general authorities. God isn't part of a political party, and neither is Satan. That was a very underhanded and untrue thing to say.

It makes him happy to see how critical they are when people like Karl Rove forget to tie their shoelaces.

So Karl Rove can reveal the identity of a CIA agent because said agent's husband speaks against the Bush administration and calls President Bush on an outright lie, and liberals are critical for asking that Rove answers for such treason. Clinton gets a little side action and conservatives want his head on a stake. Give me a break.

Regarding your rambles about welfare and the education system, I'd just like to point out that BEFORE the industrial revolution, BEFORE the age of ease and luxury, and BEFORE the everlasting truth of the Gospel was restored, this country got along just fine without the welfare system. I know the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and farm incorporation had much to do with the TEMPORARY need for welfare, but I believe that need no longer exists.

That is such a terrible argument that I don't even know how to address it. The economy before the industrial revolution was nothing like it is now. And people didn't get along, "just fine." There were poor people then, too. It really irks me when conservatives get on this high and mighty stand to talk about the laziness of those receiving welfare. Check your facts. Find people on welfare and see if they're the lazy, sit-around-the-house people that conservatives try to portray. Yes, there is some abuse in the system. It's not, even close to, the majority. Let me ask you something, Artist. Are you a student here? How much financial aid have you gotten? What have your parents done for you? Do you pay all your bills and your tuition? Are you married with kids? You paying for their healthcare and everything else? The fact is, hard working people just can't make ends meet sometimes. A welfare system is necessary. Welfare wasn't instituted for fun, it was set up because there wasn't enough private welfare to help people. It isn't the laziness of people, it's the greed of the rich, and I'd be quick also to point out that most people who have wealth were born into it. I hope the day never comes that you eat your own words, but then again, maybe it would be good for you.