The individual of whom I speak is my childhood pastor. The instance I speak of was a simple, and I believe accurate quote I put up on my Facebook page: "Liberals believe in compassion of intent. Conservatives believe in compassion of result." My Liberal pastor friend was quite upset about this quote. Our subsequent discussion required me to rethink my rhetorical path moving forward.
As a Conservative, my goal is to win the battle for hearts and minds in the arena of ideas. As a Christian, I am required by Christ to love all people, even if I disagree or even hate what they are doing or what the believe. It is a tough line to tread. This dichotomy is the essence of Biblical Conservatism. The two types of Liberals need to be dealt with differently. So, before we discuss dealing with these two types of person, we must break down these two types of liberals.
The Activist Liberal
The Activist Liberal tends to be an elitist. They believe they are smarter than you, that they are the best and brightest, and therefore you ought to let them run your life. Activist Liberals believe that Government can be the solution to all problems. They believe that all problems can be solved by passing laws or spending more money. These individuals believe that all money in America belongs to them, that they have a right to tax people up to 100% if they deem it necessary. They believe that the rich should be soaked for every cent possible so that they can give benefits to poor citizens, who will, in turn, vote Democrat. These Activist Liberals generally prey upon the sensitivities of the Neighborhood Liberal.
It is VERY important to recognize that all Activist Liberals do not serve in public office. Many of them do not, but are instead Union Leaders, political activists or "community organizers."
The Neighborhood Liberal
The Neighborhood Liberal tends to be a well-meaning, gentle, good hearted person. They want to help people. They are concerned for the poor, the environment, for people in general. They are idealists, often to a fault. They genuinely believe it is possible to be nice to evil people and cause those evil people to stop being evil. They honestly believe that it is always possible to talk out every single conflict without fighting. They honestly believe fighting is always a bad thing. They believe world peace is possible if we all just sit down and talk. Neighborhood Liberals firmly believe it's possible for the world to be "fair," that is, for everyone to have exactly the same good results. Neighborhood Liberals are generally convinced by catchy, quick slogans like those that can be found on bumper stickers and often keep 6-12 such stickers on the back of their Priuses for easy access. Finally, Neighborhood Liberals believe in the pure benevolence of Activist Liberals.
So What Does it Mean?
I can hear some of you now telling me it doesn't matter, Liberals are Liberals, and must be stopped. To a degree, you are right. However, with the true goal being to be to change hearts and minds, our tactics must be different I'd say it's going to be nearly impossible to change the hearts and minds of the Activist Liberals, but since there aren't enough Activist Liberals in any particular area to get someone elected dog catcher much less to state or national office, they also don't need to be a concern in this manner. It is the Neighborhood Liberal who we must convince if we are ever to defeat Liberalism permanently!
What we need to remember is that 95% of Neighborhood Liberals have good hearts and good intentions. Their intentions are misguided, but they are good. Neighborhood Liberals tend to be convinced by compassionate intent, regardless of the result. This is why Neighborhood Liberals believe that welfare is a good thing.
Neighborhood Liberals don't generally look at the results of welfare (people becoming comfortable in poverty so they stay there instead of working hard to get out and the destruction of fatherhood by replacing the father with government to name two). For starters, they see the compassionate intent of such welfare programs and, because are often overly idealistic, they assume they work because they were started with good intentions. Secondly, because Neighborhood Liberals have been indoctrinated to believe that Conservative Talk Radio and Fox News are propaganda machines (indoctrinated by the genuine propaganda machine that is the Drive-By Media, by the way), they only watch CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and CBS or read liberal rags like the New York Times and thus don't ever HEAR about the epic failure that is the War on Poverty and welfare in general.
Or how about Obamacare? To the Neighborhood Liberal, the idea of everyone having health insurance is appealing. It means nobody is without the thing they have. Remember, Neighborhood Liberals have a tendency to assume that it's possible for everything to be "fair." In their minds, everyone having the same thing is fair. And of course, when you remember Neighborhood Liberals believe that the ideal situation will be achieved at all times, they never consider that everyone will now have poor quality health care as the outcome. They instead expect everyone will have at least whatever good level of care they personally have.
Neighborhood Liberals tend to believe the fallacy that the rich can "afford to pay more in taxes" and, because they live in the ideal, expect that the rich will happily agree to pay more in taxes and simply eat the loss, instead of moving their businesses to other states or countries, causing loss of jobs and tax revenue in the process. Since they don't pay attention to the realities of cause and effect, the assume this is what happens when taxes are raised.
There is something highly important to realize about Neighborhood Liberals, however: They genuinely have good hearts and good intentions. They believe in these things because they believe their ideals can actually be achieved. While their ideas are ultimately doomed to fail in The Real World (1), these Liberals instead pretend they live in an ideal world. Since most Neighborhood Liberals are both idealists and perfectionists, they are constantly striving for the perfect world, as they see it, and are never satisfied with motion toward their ideal but are perpetually dissatisfied until said ideal is perfectly achieved.
Compare this to the average Conservative. Most Conservatives are either realistic perfectionists, like me, or are just plain realists. As a realistic perfectionist, I do have high ideals for what I want achieved, but I am also satisfied as long as the world is moving toward those ideals. My good friend in both real life and in the blogosphere, the JC Freak (An Irish Protestant) (2) came up with a great definition of Realistic Optimism: "I recognize that the glass is half empty, but I also believe there is a pitcher in the fridge." Translation: I know thinks may stink now, but they can definitely get better.
Dealing with Neighborhood Liberals
It's important to realize that these individuals do not have the same insidious intentions of the Activist Liberal. The Activist Liberals are the enforcement of bad policy. Neighborhood Liberals are good people whose heart is in the right place but whose heads are stuck in the sand. They see only good intentions and are shielded from the negative results of those good intentions.
What Conservatives need to avoid doing is attacking these Neighborhood Liberals with the same sort of anger we direct at Activist Liberals. Please realize I'm not suggesting we need to play the "compromise" game with these Neighborhood Liberals and pretend that we're "moderates" in order to not be seen badly by these Neighborhood Liberals. We absolutely shouldn't do that. What we need to do is use these conversations with Neighborhood Liberals as teachable moments.
Start with using facts and logic. Demonstrate the failures of government welfare with facts ($.35 on the dollar spent on the poor). Demonstrate the success of private charities in caring for the poor ($ .80 - $ .95 on the dollar spent on the poor). If you need a good place to start, here's an post I wrote a while back on that very subject: On Biblical Conservatism: It's Not the Government's Job to Care for the Poor!
Talk to them about the legitimate Real World facts about what raising taxes does for the economy. Show them how lower taxes lead to a booming economy and therefore more people working which means more taxpayers! If you need a good place to start: Reality Check: Liberal Tax Policy Has Not and Will Not Succeed.
My friends, the facts support Conservatism. Notice Liberalism always quotes its successes based upon laws they have passed, not based on results of those laws? Ask about Conservatism's results, we talk about booming economies, increase tax receipts (thanks to cutting taxes), low unemployment. We have results to back our beliefs. Liberalism has a list of laws passed and good intentions which never materialized (which is why they only trumpet passing the law). Most Neighborhood Liberals can be convinced with a preponderance of evidence, provided you avoid attacking them personally.
Just remember, these people have good hearts. Show them the compassionate RESULTS of Conservatism. Talk facts. It isn't an easy conversation, but it's one worth having. I am convinced that these well meaning Neighborhood Liberals want the best for the less fortunate. They need to be shown how to achieve it, and that it is not through Liberalism!
Or what about the fact that Neighborhood Liberals have been convinced that Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity etc are just propagandists. Ask them one simple question: Have you ever watched one full hour of Fox News? Not an episode of Hannity or the Rush Limbaugh Show, which is an editorial show and admittedly biased (so are Andrea Mitchell Reports and the Ed Schultz Show) but an actual news report. It's going to take some time for them to recognize it, by the way, because Neighborhood Liberals have been trained to believe that the middle ground of reporting is uber-Liberalism so Fox, being at the real middle, is significantly farther right than the Drive-By Media (which they assume is balanced) and therefore is biased. Let me give you a rudimentary graph:
Reality of Political Bias in News Reporting ONLY:
Mainstream Media Fox Conservative Radio
Perception of Political Bias in News Reporting ONLY, according to Liberals
Mainstream Media ConservativeRadio/Fox News
Again, the problem here is a lack of information. It requires effort on your behalf. You need to ask the Neighborhood Liberal to DEMONSTRATE where Fox is being biased in it's news presentations. (Psst: You won't find it. You'll see both sides being reported on equally). Conservative Talk Radio is indeed biased, but it is ADMITTEDLY biased. There is zero wrong with bias as long as it is not presented as neutral (like the Left Wing Media does).
We must remember that Neighborhood Liberals believe they are the typical person, because one of the trademarks of the Neighborhood Liberal is believing that they ARE the everyman. It's a fallacy, of course, but it is what they believe. This must be counteracted with facts and logic. Neighborhood Liberals can be convinced once they realize the goal is compassion of result not compassion of intent. I've seen it happen, and it does work.
At the end of the day, the most important thing we must remember is Liberals of all stripes are not as numerous as they want to believe. As of 2010, individuals who self-identify as Liberals are only 20% of America. (3) We must remember that we, as Conservatives, ARE WINNING. The numbers in our favor have continued to improve over the last ten years. We passed Liberals years ago and passed so-called Moderates recently. We are changing hearts and minds. For the Neighborhood Liberals: our goal is to change their hearts and minds. For the Activist Liberals: our goal is to fire them from their elected positions and replace them with Conservatives.
Don't forget, and I close with this: WE ARE WINNING!
(1) Not the MTV Reality show from the 90s, but a magical place where people actually expect humans to behave like humans and logic pervades the landscape over high ideals. Rush Limbaugh refers to this place as "Literalville."
(2) By the way, he just became a father for the first time. Visit his blog and congratulate him!
(3) Gallup: Conservatives Still Outnumber Moderates, Liberals