I don’t know who was the first to say, “Words mean things.” Rush Limbaugh invoked this truism frequently during his early broadcasting years when analyzing politicians and their rhetoric. People should be held accountable for what they say, according to Limbaugh, and not parse words to escape judgment – like the Bill Clinton gem: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
It’s not all that simple. Words may mean things, but things change. And two words we use with great frequency these days seem to have changed a lot.
From Webster’s Dictionary and WordNet
Conservative (con`serv´a`tive) – noun
- “One who desires to maintain existing institutions and customs.”
- “One who, or that which, preserves from ruin, injury, innovation, or radical change; a preserver; a conserver.”
- “One who holds moderate opinions in politics – opposed to revolutionary or radical.”
- “One who avoids excess; synonym: cautious.”
Liberal (lib´er`al) – noun
- “One who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties.”
- “One who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets.”
- “One who is tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition.”
- “One who favors greater freedom in political or religious matters; an opponent of the established systems; a reformer.”
- “One who is free to excess; regardless of law or moral restraint; licentious.”
Wow. My eyes glaze over seeing all the contradictions above, based on what we know of conservatives and liberals today.
Some of the traditional definitions still hold up. Real conservatives on the modern political battleground are desperately trying to “preserve [the nation] from ruin” and “cautiously avoid excess [spending and regulation].” Liberals definitely are “free to excess, regardless of law or moral restraint”, and if you watch TV, witness a foul-mouthed group of protesters, or (God forbid) take your kids to a parade which includes the LGBT crowd, you would define them as “licentious.”
Many of the other definitions no longer hold up. Were liberals really once the champions of “civil liberties” and the “economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets?” What the hell happened there? I’m sure a conservative group that applied for 501(c)3 status from the IRS, or a bakery that doesn’t want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, or a landowner who tries to defend his property rights from the EPA would not agree with that definition. And parents who would like to hear their kids sing “Silent Night” at a real school Christmas program would probably not define liberals as “favoring greater freedom in political or religious matters”.
I love the definition that says liberals are “not bound by authoritarianism.” Has there ever been a more authoritarian administration than Obama’s? And any mention of “tolerance” in the same sentence as “liberal” is pure oxymoron.
My common-sense wife likes this definition of conserve: “To use or manage wisely; preserve; save.” She asks, “Why do we throw so much perfectly good stuff away? Why do charity programs for kids Christmas toys require only brand-new items? Wouldn’t every needy kid rather have ten slightly-used toys than one new one?” My grandson’s favorite toy at our house is a big metal Tonka truck, so huge he can ride it down the driveway. They cost about $100 new, but his was a buck at a garage sale, and he thinks it’s great.
Words mean things, but things change. Democrats are almost universally liberal – at least until election time. Democrat Senator John Tester from Montana followed the party line in lockstep on every issue, until he voted against the omnibus spending bill last week, saying, “We just can’t keep spending like this.” In contrast, Montana’s Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke voted for the spending bill, showing no concern over the approaching $20 trillion national debt.
I guess the lesson here is that you can’t trust a politician based on his or her words (especially Hillary!) Better to hold our political leaders accountable based on their actions.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
I can’t seem to talk about
The things that bother me
Seems to be what everybody has
Against me! (ooh! ooh! ooh! yeah!)
I LOVE sixties music, and here’s a short clip by a fantastic one-hit-wonder sixties band, the Music Machine, to make my case. It’s all there – the hair, the tambourine, the teen-age angst, the “fuzz bass”. Well written rocker – take two minutes and enjoy!