I am posting this thread because I would like to have a serious discussion with everyone, but especially conservatives, about the core principles of our liberal and conservative philosophies. I am Liberal (well, Liberal-Libertarian, technically, according to PoliticalCompass.org; it only takes about 15-20 minutes to see where you fall on the political scale) and I want to have a serious discussion about why we think the way we do. I am not a philosophy student, just someone trying to learn things.
I am asking everyone who participates in this discussion to please be polite. I have tried to have such discussions on other sites (mostly ThinkProgress), and, unfortunately, the negative tone of some of the comments toward these people left them, shall we say, not in the mood to continue the dialog. I would not like that to happen here, so I am asking all participants to be respectful to the commenters personally even if you are being disrespectful to the comment itself. Remember to keep the two separate. I would like this to be a discussion of ideas, not of personalities. And since this is my blog and not someone else’s, I will edit and/or delete comments that I feel are too insulting to the person. Rip the comment itself to shreds if you wish, but don’t insult the person making it. I will hold myself to this standard, too.
One last thing before I start things off. This is only a conversation, not a competition. So, please, no wagering.
At the core of the difference between Liberal and Conservative beliefs is the question of whether we, as humans, are born inherently good or inherently evil. Thomas Hobbes believed that without some strong authority keeping us in check, mankind would devolve into a constant state of warfare. In contrast to Hobbes, John Locke believed that man’s natural state was not one of warfare. [Full disclosure: This are general summaries I got from Thom Hartmann's great book "Cracking the Code". Some day soon, I hope to sit down and read those links I put in above in full. It's okay if you don't right now, but they are there for your own edification.]
So, do you believe that humans are inherently evil and must be dominated by a strong authority of some kind? Or do you believe that we are inherently good, and that our natural state would be to live in cooperation with one another? When I think of this, I am always reminded of a great scene from “The West Wing”. After pipe bombs killed some students at a college and the perpetrators were caught, President Bartlett said of them, “They weren’t born wanting to do this.”
And remember, kids. Be nice.