- conservative: reactionary, traditionalist, redneck, diehard, conventional, orthodox, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool, hidebound, unadventurous, stick-in-the-mud, set-in-one's-ways, moderate, middle-of-the-road, buttoned-down.
liberal: tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened, progressive, modern, advanced, forward-thinking, enlightened, beneficent, bounteous.
Paraphrased from a single dictionary (Oxford American again), these definitions:
- conservative: holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change and innovation, averse to change and holding to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics and religion.
liberal: open to new behaviour and opinions. Favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms. Regarding traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change. Favouring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform.
One of these words is now scorned and spat at. ("Liberal", in case you wondered which). Yet looking at what's above, why? Why is it any more or less deserving of scorn than the other? Why isn't it an ideal that everyone aspires to?
But, you say, it's not the definition, but the doings of people who are seen as liberal! Right you are, too. But well, plenty of people who are seen as conservative do plenty of crummy things too. Should we scorn that word as well? (Go ahead, if you like, but spare me).
Now I'm uninterested in labels. But if I had to choose, I know which I'd rather sport on my brow. I say this much with the utmost respect for several friends who consider themselves conservative, and for their views. Yep: it's "liberal" I would choose, no apologies.
So here we go: time to restore the positive connotations of the word. Time to show, again, the worth of a liberal outlook. Scorn? That's your prerogative.