Liberally Speaking

There are no transitional fossils between liberals and conservatives

Things have been a bit of a blur this last week. The crunch at work was supposed to ease up a little bit yesterday, but it didn’t. It’s going to be a few more weeks. I’m halfway through writing another short Cabzon Dinosaur article, but snark requires a refreshed brain. Maybe tonight…

I’ve been cruising a lot of random blogs in my odd hour here and there. I came across a strident libertarian blog that had a quote that rather disturbed me. Now that I have an easy answer (that completely blows it out of the water), I can’t find that quote or that blog again.

I did find this lovely page of quotes about liberals. Some are pro, some are con. Here are a few that jumped out at me. Some of these are obviously true (They must be true. I agree with them!). Others are clearly wrong. Feel free to discuss them in the comments.


“Liberalism is an attitude rather than a set of dogmas—an attitude that insists upon questioning all plausible and self-evident propositions, seeking not to reject them but to find out what evidence there is to support them rather than their possible alternatives.”
—Morris Raphael Cohen

“Liberalism is Rationalism in politics.”
—Francis P. Yockey

“Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.”
—William E. Gladstone

“Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.”
—Mort Sahl

“A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”
—Robert Frost

“Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.”
—Winston Churchill

“A radical thinks two and two makes five. A liberal is more conservative. he knows two and two make four, but he’s unhappy about it.”
—Herbert Prochnow

“Liberalism is totalitarianism with a human face.”
—Thomas Sowell

“Conservative: a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.”
—Ambrose Bierce

“If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.”
—Thomas Wolfe

“The liberals have not softened their view of actuality to make themselves live closer to the dream, but instead sharpen their perceptions and fight to make the dream actuality or give up the battle in despair.”
—Margaret Mead

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”
—George Washington


3/9/11 Bonus!

I found two more in my quote file on my computer:

“Liberals believe in a future that never will be; conservatives believe in a past that never was.”

“A liberal is someone who worries about whether people are going cold, sick or hungry, while a conservative worries about whether people are suffering as much as they deserve.”

11 Responses to “Liberally Speaking”

  1. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Let’s compare.

    My favorites: William E. Gladstone, Robert Frost, Margaret Mead, and George Washington.

    My least favorites: Winston Churchill and Ambrose Bierce.

    The others I’m not excited either way much.

    I think Churchill and Bierce’s quotes are the worst. Maybe it makes more sense in the context of the politics of their day. Both the words “liberal” and “conservative” have been corrupted to varying degrees over the centuries. The most famous being the pre-Godwin use of Socialist=Nazi in the actual Nazi Party. And the more modern example being Republicans=Fiscally Conservative.

    Bierce’s quote, in particular, grates on me because it uses the old and tired fallacy of anything the government does is bad in and of itself, and worse than any other possible solution, by definition.

    Churchhill’s quote doesn’t bother me as much, despite my being over 30 and liberal and this seemingly being lobbed as insult directly to my demographic. The reason is because it’s eleven dimensionally reverse reflected judi chop insulting back to Churchill and his worshippers. How? It’s basically admitting that the conservative mindset is such that while you are young and poor, you like assistance of a generally liberal government, but when you have wealth you get greedy and don’t want to give any of it up to help the next generation. It’s basically the Baby Boomers in a nutshell.

  2. Ron Britton Says:


    Washington must be rolling in his grave, since we’re among the most conservative and backward of nations in most respects. We severed our connection with Europe? What were we thinking?

    The Churchill quote is an odd duck. It’s trying to be a backhanded way of saying that liberals are a bit dense, but it (at least as much) admits that conservatives are cold, heartless bastards who’d rather watch somebody starve to death in the snow than give them a blanket and some hot soup. That’s a pretty damning description of conservatives, Winnie. Way to go!

    I included the Sowell quote, because it reflects the attitude I hear from a lot of libertarians. They keep screaming how government steals all your rights, and taxes are robbery by the government at the point of a gun, or some such nonsense (That’s a bit of an oversimplification. I’m not trying to straw-man their position.). From that perspective, the Sowell quote makes sense.

  3. Jeff Says:

    Bear in mind that Churchill himself crossed the aisle at around that age.

    Mort Sahl – he was a pioneer in so many ways, and was the inspiration for a generation of comics, yet he’s so rarely mentioned today. He’s 83, still performing and has been teaching at a small college in CA. He even has a website.

    I don’t think there’s anyone like him performing today, certainly not anyone well-known. John Stewart is similar, but Mort is unique.

  4. L.Long Says:

    The image is incorrect.
    Neither republican, democrat, liberal, nor conservative believe in tax cuts. They believe in taxing the schite out of anyone without the power or money to help their career and tax breaks only for those that can help.
    When they approve a 10% tax cut for those under $100K and a 10% tax increase above $200K then I will change my opinion.
    And don’t even suggest that taxing the rich will reduce jobs, they are doing a good job of moving jobs out of the country already; they don’t need more help to continue.

  5. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Sahl’s quote page started off promising with…

    “Most people past college age are not atheists. It’s too hard to be in society, for one thing. Because you don’t get any days off. And if you’re an agnostic you don’t know whether you get them off or not.”

    But then ended with…

    “There were four million people in the Colonies and we had Jefferson and Franklin. Now we have over 200 million and the two top guys are Clinton and Dole. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong!”

    I know, I know, it’s just a joke. But I get so tired of evolution fallacies.

  6. Infidel753 Says:

    Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains

    This reflects the common fallacy that people tend to get more conservative as they get older. The actual evidence says the opposite.

  7. Lindsay Says:

    It’s completely anecdotal evidence, but my parents have certainly become much more liberal as they have aged. I think part of it comes from being exposed the different people, ideas etc. Fifteen years ago my dad was afraid of the hispanics moving into town, thinking that all brown people were gang members. Today, after teaching ESL classes to adult immigrants, my dad have enormous respect for the people he taught (he notes that they were the best students he ever taught…gracious, eager to learn, hard workers). He now has many friends in the local hispanic community.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that when exposed to different people/ideas etc, we find out (in most cases) they aren’t the bogeymen, and they are very much like us. Older people have a lifetime of experiences, so I suppose it makes sense they become more liberal as they age.

  8. Parrotlover77 Says:

    @Lindsay – I’ve had the same experience both personally and with my parents. I started off very conservative, but I’m damn near socialist now.

    My parents are still conservative, but having had to deal with chronic illness (Parkinson’s) for 20 years and seeing how wonderful Medicare can be, they support a fully socialized medical system and were 100% agreement with me during the HCR debate. I don’t recall them supporting “HillaryCare” with such enthusiasm.

    @Infidel753 – Cool article!! Thanks for sharing that. I had no idea there was actual evidence for that.

    I still wonder if the boomers are an outlier to that trend… If you look at the average teabagger, they are right in that age range.

  9. JimG Says:

    I believe the quote attributed to Churchill, while it may have been said by him, is actually a retread from several decades earlier. Something very similar was said by Benjamin Disraeli, the Conservative prime minister: “Any man who is not a Liberal at 16 has no heart; any man who is not a Conservative at 60 has no head.” Disraeli’s line was a direct jab at his great rival Gladstone, who was over 60 at the time and got more liberal with age.

  10. David Bailey Says:

    The Churchill quote is apparently a myth, he never said it.

  11. Ron Britton Says:


    I wouldn’t be surprised. It seems like quotes are more often misattributed than correctly attributed.