The Definition of Liberal & Conservative

The Definition of Liberal & Conservative

I am often asked, how do “I” know where I land on the political spectrum?  What do the terms liberal and conservative, actually mean?  Usually I point the person to this really really short political quiz.

It is all over 10 questions, and will probably take you at most 1 minute because the questions asked, at least in most people, cause a sort of gut reaction.  Also, it doesn’t ask for your e-mail address which is surprisingly refreshing in today’s internet.  According to the website, the quiz has been taken more than 14 million times, so I am not claiming that I found a diamond in the rough.

As most Quizes do – it provides the answer you were looking for, but it also provides the answers you could have received and that is where the definitions are.

What are the Definitions of a Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian and Statist (Communist)?

    • Liberals usually embrace freedom of choice in personal matters, but tend to support significant government control of the economy. They generally support a government-funded “safety net” to help the disadvantaged, and advocate strict regulation of business. Liberals tend to favor environmental regulations, defend civil liberties and free expression, support government action to promote equality, and tolerate diverse lifestyles.
    • Centrists espouse a “middle ground” regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose “political extremes,” and emphasize what they describe as “practical” solutions to problems.
    • Conservatives tend to favor economic freedom, but frequently support laws to restrict personal behavior that violates “traditional values.” They oppose excessive government control of business, while endorsing government action to defend morality and the traditional family structure. Conservatives usually support a strong military, oppose bureaucracy and high taxes, favor a free-market economy, and endorse strong law enforcement.
    • Statists want government to have a great deal of power over the economy and individual behavior. They frequently doubt whether economic liberty and individual freedom are practical options in today’s world. Statists tend to distrust the free market, support high taxes and centralized planning of the economy, oppose diverse lifestyles, and question the importance of civil liberties.
    • LIBERTARIANS support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.

These definitions are black and white, but your answers and feelings don’t have to be.  Just a side note, I have never heard of the term Statist before but it seems like a Communist to me.

So What Does Evan’s Quiz Look Like?

Take the Quiz and come back here I want to know how you did!

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20 Responses to The Definition of Liberal & Conservative

  1. Given my focus on balance, I guess it’s not surprising that I was a Centrist. But my red dot was slightly leaning toward Conservative/Libertarian and it was exactly in the middle between those two. I have a hard time answering questions that are general in nature, as exceptions always pop into my head.

    This is really interesting in light of the current political environment, where people seem more concerned with holding the party line and trashing the other side than finding real solutions to our very real problems. Thanks for making me think!

  2. I’m on the line straddling liberal/libertarian but the test says I’m a liberal. (Think SS in baseball – between 2nd and 3rd base.) Not surprising to me as I tend to support some government programs (national health care being one) and not others.

  3. Honestly surprising! With a few key exceptions I have always considered myself as a conservative. In this I am a solid Libertarian with a slight lean to the right… hmmmm

    • Until I learned about the term Libertarian I always described myself as fisically conserv and socially liberal

      Well that is the definition of libertarian lol

  4. Not terribly surprising, I’m a liberal who leans toward libertarian. I had a personal issues score of 90% and a economic issues score of 40%. Of course, as mentioned by other posters, the definitions do seem to be slanted toward libertarians, particularly in regards to the ‘Statist’ definition; how many people, even those who social conservative and fiscal liberals, want to be described as ‘doubting individual freedom is a practical option’ or ‘questioning the importance of civil liberties’? (Of course, every group is going to have an agenda; I’ve seen similar polls from non-libertarian groups that labeled that spot ‘progressive’ (because who wouldn’t want to be considered progressive?) and made out libertarians (and to a lesser extent, Conservatives and even Liberals) to be undesirable.

    • Everyone has an agenda!

      Notwithstanding, the definition isn’t provided until you take the quiz, so while it may sting (or feel good) it shouldn’t sway your choices when taking the quiz.

  5. I like your definitions! Well done! I would have to agree with all of them but it’s so funny how many different definitions I have heard about all these words, I feel like they are almost subjective terms, haha. Such is how it goes with politics!

  6. Hey, we had the same score! I saw this test linked at Neal Boortz’s website a few years back and had forgotten about it.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Excellent, sane set of definitions (‘cept maybe for “statist,” which is a new one on me, too).

    The disturbing thing is that the definition keeps shifting. Or maybe it’s precessing, like the apparent position of Polaris. I used to think of myself as very conservative. Without much change in philosophy (except maybe to dump the racist theories inherited from my Texas daddy), somehow I found myself center to left-center. Now apparently I’m a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth left-wing crazy.

    Stop me before I vote again!!! 😉

  8. Liberals aka democrats like higher taxes, for everyone else. they just hate paying taxes personally themselves.

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