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Difference Between Conservatives and Liberals

liberal_politicsConservatives vs Liberals

Within the framework of national politics, we can usually identify two different ways of thinking: a conservative approach and a liberal perspective. In theory, the two ideologies lie at opposite ends of the political spectrum; yet, the reality is much more blurred. Conservatives and liberals have different beliefs and opposing views on the structure of the society, the role of the government and, in general, on the progress of the nation. In fact, the main difference between the two lies in how much of the past – or of the present – should be maintained for the future 1 .


Socialism, Liberalism, Conservatism and Ecology

In general, conservatives are associated with right-leaning movements and are characterized by the firm belief that progress should be controlled and, in some instances, impeded in order to preserve traditional values. Conservatives are often part of the dominant group: why would they want to change things when they benefit from the current social/political/economic order?

Alternatively, if they are not part of the dominant group, they are worried about the consequences and the drastic changes brought about by progress. For instance, in the Western world, liberal movements have dominated the political scenario for the last few decades. Yet, with the threats posed by the spread of terrorism and by the growing wave of migration, many Westerners have begun to take a more conservative stance as far as immigration policies and border control are concerned. In the U.S, Republicans are the traditionally conservative party.

Conservatives believe in:

  • Limited government involvement in the private sphere;
  • Free markets;
  • Traditional values;
  • Religious values;
  • Strong personal responsibility;
  • Individual liberties; and
  • Strong national defense.


Liberals are left-leaning, open to progress and highly reliant in the government to solve problems. Originally, liberals were mainly part of minority groups striving for social changes, whereas today they may also be part of dominant groups. Liberals want to change existing structures and believe that strictly sticking to the tradition (and to traditional values) only slows the society down and impedes progress and development. In the United States, Democrats are considered the liberal party.

Liberals believe in:

  • Equal opportunities and equality;

  • Governmental involvement in the private sphere;

  • Civil liberties;

  • Inalienable human rights; and

  • Progress.

Economic, political and social issues

Conservatives and liberals – just as Republicans and Democrats – have opposing views on several key issues 2 . While the opposition between the two may resemble the dichotomy between Democrats and Republicans, these differences exist in (almost) al countries of the world.

  1. Abortion 3

Liberals believe that women have the right to decide what happens to their own body. Freedom of choice is the main pillar of the liberal perspective. Furthermore, liberals think that the government should provide financial and structural support to all women – even to the indigent ones – in order to ensure safe and legal abortion.

Conservatives believe that abortion is the murder of a human being with separate rights. Therefore, they only admit abortion in case of rape or when carrying on the pregnancy could seriously endanger the mother’s health.

  1. Death penalty

Liberals believe that death penalty should be abolished and that capital punishment should be commuted to life sentences. For liberals, every execution risks to kill an innocent person.

Conservatives believe that death penalty is the appropriate punishment for certain crimes, including murder and terrorist acts.

  1. Economy

Liberals believe that the government should interfere in and regulate the economy of the nation in order to protect citizens from corporate power. The support for governmental intervention is motivated by the belief that the government cares (or should care) about public interest.

Conservatives support free market and the capitalist system. In their view, the free market system produces more economic growth, greater welfare ad higher standards of living. Conservatives believe that the government should not regulate the economic system of the nation.

  1. Energy

Liberals believe that climate change – and consequently the use of fossil fuels – is a serious threat. Therefore, they think that the government should invest in alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Conservatives believe that oil, coal and gas remain the most reliable sources of energy. While not all conservatives deny the problem of climate change, most of them believe that alternative resources could never replace oil and coal.

  1. Climate change

Liberals acknowledge the fact that climate change and global warming are caused and exacerbated by the use of fossil fuels and the subsequent production of carbon dioxide. As such, liberals believe that privates and companies should reduce carbon emissions and take all necessary steps to halt global warming and save the planet.

Conservatives believe that climate change and global warming are natural and that there is no proof that supports the assumption that the use of fossil fuels can aggravate or accelerate the change in global temperature. Unfortunately, several conservative scientists support this theory – thus providing the conservatives with scientific evidence that denies climate change.

  1. Euthanasia

Liberals believe that everyone has the right to die with dignity and by his/her own choice. As such, they support euthanasia and assisted suicide, and believe that the government should not deprive the citizens of the possibility of terminating their lives whenever their condition becomes unbearable or the suffering is too intense. Furthermore, they think that legalizing euthanasia would reduce health care costs.

Conservatives believe that euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal and immoral, and that it is unethical for a doctor to deliberately enable a person to terminate his/her life. Such perspective is supported by several religious beliefs that value human lives and prohibit suicide.

  1. Healthcare

Liberals believe that the government should provide low-cost and equal health care services for all citizens, regardless of their income and their ability to pay. Yet, liberals do not deny the possibility of having private healthcare systems running parallel to the public system.

Conservatives believe that the healthcare system should be privatized and, while everyone should be entitled to healthcare, the government should not interfere in nor control it.

  1. Immigration and security

Liberals support legal immigration but believe that illegal migrants should be facilitated in receiving valid residence permits. Liberals support softer policies as far as border controls and immigration laws are concerned, and believe that passenger profiling – in particular on ethnic bases – should be avoided.

Conservatives believe that soft policies regarding border controls and immigration gravely endanger the security of the country. As such, they only support legal immigration and believe that illegal migrants should not enjoy the same rights of all other citizens. Illegal aliens should go back to their country, either voluntarily or following deportation, as they represent a threat to national security.

  1. Same-se marriage

Liberals support same-sex marriage and believe that, in our changing and modernizing society, everyone should be entitled to marry the person he/she loves, regardless of his/her sex. Liberals advocate for equal rights for gay, lesbians, transgender and bisexual individuals.

Conservatives, strongly influenced by traditional and religious values, believe that the marriage should only exist between a man and a woman. According to their perspective, same-sex marriage are immoral and sinful.

  1. International community

Liberals believe that every country, while being a sovereign nation entitled to territorial integrity, is part of a wide international community. As such, individual countries should support international institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and respect international law and international human rights law.

Conservatives believe that international institutions such as the UN and the NATO limit the freedom of action of individual countries and that the sovereignty of the nation should not be questioned by international organizations.

  1. Taxes

Liberals believe that wealthy people should pay higher taxes and that the government needs tax-money to address inequality within the society and to provide for all people, including the indigent.

Conservatives believe in lower taxes for everyone. In their view, lower taxes create incentive local investments and that government programs do not benefit economic growth.


The conservative approach and the liberal perspective lie at opposing ends of the political spectrum. Conservatives are right-leaning while liberals are left-leaning. While they have opposing views on a number of key issues (i.e. economy, abortion, death penalty, euthanasia, international involvement, taxes, same-sex marriage etc.), the main difference between the two is the attitude towards the future. Conservatives want to maintain the existing structure and to preserve traditional values, while liberals believe in progress and strive for modernity and development.

In the United States, the Republican Party is traditionally the conservative party while Democrats are more liberal. Yet, with the growing complexity of our modern society and the constant shifts in the political scenario, today it is hard to find “pure” conservatives and “pure” liberals, just as it is hard to identify “pure” Democrats and “pure” Republicans.

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  1. Mussolini, maybe the most famous fascist, was first socialist, ie a leftist. Hitler was certainly NOT a rightwinger – he lead a “people’s” movement to change the statist quo and business aligned with him to avoid destruction. This commonly promoted misconception of conservatism allied with fascism is shamefully inaccurate.

    • That’s absolutely not true. Fascism is considered by scholars to be on the far right of the left-right spectrum. “Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties” – http://www.publiceye.org/eyes/whatfasc.html

      • Not sure where exactly you learned to research anything, but try a dictionary. Like merriam-webster, which says :

        “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”

        If you notice the bit about above the individual you will find that group identity is not a tool of the right, but a tool of the left. The right is about the individual responsibilities to themselves and community, not about the communities responsibilities to the individual like you find on the left. Next is the desire from the left for economic restriction to protect everyone instead of everyone protecting themselves. Add in how you rarely hear about people running into left leaning gatherings and disrupting them to the point they are canceled, but often hear about groups on the left doing everything in their power to stop someone on the right from talking, often by labeling them fascist as a reason to block free speech and you might start to see why the term being used is incorrect. If it was being used correctly you would understand why those who support communism, no mater how they alter the name, are in fact the ones desiring fascism.

    • No, this article is completely accurate. Mussolini only switched back and forth in his proposed ideologies to appeal to the masses, not because of a moral conviction. Either way, he did SWITCH to far right for most of his reign. And as for Hitler, his political policies were built on anti-communist and anti-socialist ideals.

    • Charlie is a bit dense

  2. I’ve followed American politics for fifty years as both a Democrat and a Republican.

    In the 1950’s, when a bill came up for a vote in Congress, the “no” votes had lots of both Democrats and Republicans, and the “yes” votes also had lots of both Democrats and Republicans. Over the years, I’ve seen a larger percentage of Democrats on one side of the vote, and a larger percentage of Republicans on the other side. Today, it’s almost all Democrats on one side of the vote and almost all Republicans on the other.

    The difference between Conservatives and Liberals has definitely INCREASED over the years — not decreased.

  3. Author clearly has no idea what the word ‘liberal’ means anywhere else besides America , nor any idea about British Politics.

    Both American political parties are more or less ‘liberal’ (belief in free capitalist market economy, personal freedoms etc..), seems more like a progressive liberal party vs conservative liberal party,
    as opposed to most other western nation such as UK Australia etc.., where the political spectrum is more ‘social democracy’ (labour) vs ‘liberal-conservatives’ (Tory)

  4. Right wing is the kid who listens to the teacher, does his homework every night and values good manners and knows what he wants out of life and works through obstacles to get it.
    Will probably have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, open a savings account and drink once a week or less. Take their kids on holiday once a year, save up and buy and own their own house one day. Cry behind closed doors and smile in public for the most part. Probably get married before having children. Children will probably be taught to say please and thank you and be the same race as the parents. Abortion is okay in cases of sexual abuse, otherwise it is looked down on, euthanasia sometimes okay, sometimes not.

    Left wing is the defensive, lazy, ‘cool’ kid who messes about in class, expects to get life for free and wins the respect of other dossers by proclaiming his selflessness for being left wing when not really understanding anything at all or being particularly philanthropic. Will probably never accomplish much, probably won’t get a degree, probably never got smacked as a child and whines about trivial rubbish and hangs out with similar people. This includes people with facial piercings and gays and homeless people, people who dye their hair blue and get tattoos. Abortion acceptable multiple times after drunken one night stands, euathanasia for everyone who wants it. This is the Left wing.

    • Liberals when eating at a nice restaurant want some one else to pick up the tab. Conservatives when eating at a nice restaurant want to go dutch.

    • The most ignorant comment ive read today!!

    • Omgosh that was perfect!!

    • This was a completely biased and moronic comment. We are all now dumber for having read it.
      Seriously, so all Conservatives are polite, hard working rule followers and all Liberal are slackers? Why is it then when a Congress person gets caught cheating on their spouse or committing fraud, nine times out of ten it’s a Republican?
      This is the real problem in this country. Conservatives saying one thing and doing the opposite. Don’t be so damn smug!

  5. Really? It is a name! Why can’t you put a “u” between “o” and “r”!? It is called “The Labour Party”, not “The Labor Party”.

  6. I would agree with 90 to 95 percent of this article. Well done. It gives a brief explanation of the two North American traditional two parties.

  7. So then what am I

    I believe in God,
    I believe that abortion is wrong, unless fetus is at risk,
    I have mixed feelings about Euthanasia
    I do not, under any circumstances believe in the death penalty.
    I believe in smaller government
    I believe in less taxes
    I believe companies create jobs
    I believe that welfare should be reserved for the elderly and disabled poor, not the lazy poor.
    I believe the earth evolved over billions of years and in the big bang, but ultimately a higher power created life, and the conditions for the universe to exist.
    I believe the Bible is a folk story, or a manual on how to live, but not the word of God.
    I believe Jesus was a man.
    I have mixed feelings on.gay marriage. On one hand, I know being gay is no choice, and gays were born this way, not taught or created, I believe gay or straight everyone deserves love. I also believe that marriage is a man made thing, and man not God says it’s between a man.and woman. I believe marriage is between 2 people who.love one another.
    I believe that if your old enough to die for your country your old enough to screw, drink, smoke.
    I believe the government should back off criminalizing drugs, and no human has the right to impose his will of what to injest on.another human.
    I.believe in Trump’s wall, and I stongly believe in ICE mission and deport illegals here hiding breaking our laws, hurting our people, not paying into the system.
    I believe Hillary Clinton is evil, and a liar, and deserves to be in.prison.
    I believe federal lake supersedes and local or state laws and any govonors like Como in NY, and the governor Of Cali, who attempt to hinder federal.law, need to be prosecuted for treason.
    I don’t believe whites owe blacks anything and blacks have the same if not.more chances at life as whites do.
    I.believe that all businesses should have the right to deny customers for political and sexual orientation.
    I believe we are all equal, white, black, Hispanic, and that each race naturally should feel.theirs is the best, but work with all people.
    I.believe in.tougher punishments for hanis ctimes and mass murders, and politicians who get caught stealing from the people and punish them with life in.solitary confinement without.payroll. I.prefer Pepsi over Coke, Whopper over the big mac, Camaro over the Mustang, Cubs over White Sox, I am a white male who happened to be attracted to other males. So what am I, Left, Right, Middle, or confused.

    I believe I am a bi liberal conservative. Lean a lot more right, but agree with a few left leaning ideas.

    Please don’t reply with spelling or grammar mistakes, this was typed out on.a small screen.smart phone that decides on it’s own when to use periods etc. Thanks. And God bless us all

    • What exactly has Clinton done to be put in jail?

      About half of the immigrants fly into the U.S. They have gone over and under existing barriers why would Trump’s wall be any different. It will bleed our finances.

      No business should have the right to discriminate against anyone. If the owner doesn’t like a certain group and knows this going in should either treat them like anyone else or not own a business. Any owner who discriminates (and that’s what it is) hopefully will be boycotted and go broke.

  8. Cody, you are lost and unsaved because you don’t have Christ.

  9. Well, all values and ideas should be respected by the opposing party. However, in today’s world that’s not the case. The fake left wing media is nagging and pulling at the POTUS. President Trump has done a tremendous amount of work and shown his dedication and commitment to the security of this great nation. But the media turns it into a frenzy and actually tries to make the rest of the world believe that President Trump is Satan in a suit. He should be respected by all sides of politics. He is everyone’s boss.


  10. I just wanted to know the difference between conservative and liberal! Not to read about fights about abortion ,Hillary Clinton and Hitler!

  11. As far as my beliefs on the death penalty goes, I not only believe in it, I think it’s too soft. I bet murder victims would have liked to have a death as easy as their killers! I say take them outside of town and pelt them with stones until they die! And do it publicly as a deterrent against anyone else considering the same thing!

  12. What Conservative [Leaders in this country] believe in:

    – Limited government involvement in the private sphere — unless you’re a woman, then government should have the right to tell you what to do with your health and body.

    – Free markets — unless arbitrary tariffs just feel like a good idea that day.

    – Traditional values — unless you’re a white man in power, in which case it’s ok to have affairs and divorce the old wives to marry a new younger one, and/or ok to grope/moles/harass women against their will, and/or pay off prostitutes to preserve your traditional values persona.

    – Religious values — only when convenient, expedient, and in public.

    – Strong personal responsibility — unless it’s your own.

    – Individual liberties — unless it’s other people’s.

    – Strong national defense — My way or the highway, World!

  13. Oxford’s dictionary has defined liberal as “relating to or denoting a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise” for more than 60 years. The main political philosophies are conservatism, liberalism, and socialism (think Trump, Biden, and Sanders supporters). The philosophies are discussed here: “https://nassirhassan.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/compare-and-contrast-liberalism-conservatism-and-socialism/” Is this what you wanted?

    Boy, aren’t you a bit boring? Giulia Squadrin masterfully announces that there are just 2 main philosophies: liberalism and conservatism. She adds a diagram taken from some place, but it takes time to change it, so the diagram still presents the 3 main philosophies. Her technical difficulty will be proven important in history, because it allows the conservatives to embrace liberal values, and liberals to be accused of socialist values, in as much as many comments actually enumerate all characteristics of the three philosophies, mixed together in a way that allows us to argue literally everything that happens to cross our minds. CodyT masterfully summarizes the depth of our critical thinking and he should be on the presidential ticket for the 2024 elections of the party (which one?), on the strength of his post alone. I myself am (proud to be) a conservative with the strongest socialist beliefs. I support both Trump and Sanders, and I will gladly vote for Biden. I know Biden is the status quo (white male in his seventies), but Trump and Sanders are the real change: they are white males in their seventies. As a liberal, I need to promote change, and to do so I will never vote for Biden (although I will as a socialist conservative).

    Are you still around looking for answers?

  14. Whenever a summary of conservatism starts:
    “In general, conservatives are associated with right-leaning movements and are characterized by the firm belief that progress should be controlled and, in some instances, impeded in order to preserve traditional values” —

    And the summary of liberals begins: “Liberals are left-leaning, open to progress and highly reliant in the government to solve problems” —

    You know the writers are lefties, lazy, and don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. You know the article is a piece of crap – because it never occurred to the writers that, to learn how conservatives think, maybe find out how they describe themselves. I don’t know a single conservative who has or would ever say they “strongly believe in controlling and impeding Progress.” I think conservatives could fairly describe what liberals / leftists would say about themselves. Because we listen to them. But they don’t listen to us, because they’re too busy talking. If someone can’t get the first sentence about us in the correct universe, you know the rest of the article will also be about fictitious characters.


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References :

[0]Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs , available at https://www.studentnewsdaily.com/conservative-vs-liberal-beliefs/

[1]5 Examples Showing the Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives on “Religious Freedom”, available at https://forwardprogressives.com/5-examples-showing-difference-liberals-conservatives-religious-freedom/

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