Let me be as generous as I can. It appears to me that the conservative position can be summarized as this: There comes a time in human societal development when we have reached the peak, and we can go no further. We can not improve. We can be no better. We can learn no more. We are in the best of all possible worlds. There are no more ills. If you believe that there are, then you are delusional. All we must do now is conserve what we have and make no further changes to policy. All we have to do now is make sure that no one makes any changes to our perfect system.
No really. That is the most generous I can be. I do not believe that is an inaccurate restatement of the whacko positions they take. I do recognize that the right wing contains a variety of positions, and that to paint them all with a single brush would be unreasonable. It would be just as unreasonable as to paint all of the Liberal positions with a single brush. No, actually it would be more so, since there is actually a more active conservative culture in America. However, that really is the heart of it. The only real differences between the various groups within the conservative groups are where in time this supposed golden age of perfection is located, i.e. how far back do they want to take us. In fact, it is akin to asking a neo-Luddite, “What technology is acceptable? Is a stick okay?”
The Liberal position on the other hand, and the reason that the term progressive has been adopted, is that we have not reached the pinnacle of our growth. In fact, we could state that even more emphatically. The Liberal position is that there is no limit to our potential to growth except those limitations that we put on ourselves. There may be stumbling blocks that we have to overcome. There are challenges which have not yet been overcome.
These two competing visions are in constant struggle in many ways, even when they are not truly believed. These are the difference between believing in (and thus ruling by fear and divisiveness) and believing in (and thus leading from a place of) hope and unity.
Barack Obama used it in his 2008 campaign when he ran on “Hope and Change”. That was the promise. He quickly showed though, that this was lip service. He quickly showed that he, too, is part of the right wing and is using fear and divisiveness to rule rather than to lead. In fairness, his biggest sin may have been lacking a spine to get into the fight. He was simply unwilling or incapable of standing up to the obstructionist far-right members of his political wing to stand for the things that he campaigned on. Either that of all of his words were lies from the beginning.
Bush, Cheney, etc ruled from fear. They took a semi-legitimate reason for fear in this country and turned it into a state of permafear. From that, they managed to persuade more people than not to give up so many rights, and most did it happily so with very little grumbling. What grumbling there was, came not over the actual loss of the rights, but rather over silly inconveniences. Most people do not grumble over the invasion of their privacy at the airport screenings or of the ineffectiveness of those same screenings for their stated purpose, but rather they complain about the longer lines caused and the extra time it takes to get to the over-crowded flights.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Letter to Josiah Quincy, Sept. 11, 1773
Does anyone even remember that the PATRIOT act still gives our government the right to pull your reading list from the library without a warrant while simultaneously preventing the library from notifying you that they were required to provide that list to the government? Just as an example. The PATRIOT Act was extended under Obama. Some libraries have taken some interesting and completely legal steps to get around these unconstitutional and immoral provisions of the PATRIOT act. Libraries such as the Boulder Library. This page from the Boulder Library system not only provides links to the laws themsevles, but also a very good analysis of what the laws means in terms of the libraries, and you, but also describes what they have done to help protect your privacy. Bravo, Boulder Lbrary!!