As noted, I embrace the conservative philosophical outlook and I do so for very specific reasons. Perhaps it will be easier, however, to explain why I do not embrace the liberal outlook. The complete list of reasons is quite long, but the primary one can be summed up in one word: coercion. If I were to sum up the liberal position as succinctly as I can, I would say that liberals want to use government to further humanitarian goals: a seemingly noble goal at first blush. My problem with this is that those things which qualify for worthwhile humanitarian goals vary from person to person. I have my own opinion on what should be pursued and supported, and you have yours. Sometimes we will agree; often, we will not. Yet, since liberals act through government with the power of coercion, there is no opt out from the programs they inflict upon us. The collective opinions of certain people are forced in their entirety on the rest of us. I must support abortion on demand (hypothetically) because that is a “humanitarian goal” endorsed by the majority. For similar reasons, I must in actuality support Food Stamps, Medicaid, and what-have-you despite whatever personal feelings I might have against such programs. It is this conception of “government” that I take issue with.
Liberals are all about collective action. Indeed, they are often referred to as collectivists, and conservatives as individualists. I have no quarrel with collective action in and of itself; my quarrel is with mandatory collective action. This is the difference between a government program and a charity. If I am forced to perform an action that I object to, or simply do not wish to do, you have stripped away a piece of my freedom and made me, to a certain extent, less free, perhaps not quite a slave, but approaching one, or at the very least, a serf.
Consider the following example. You and a friend (who is liberal) encounter a homeless man on the street dressed in little more than rags. Believing that it is a good thing to help the homeless man, your friend forcibly takes your coat and gives it to him. Clearly, this is a violation of your personal space, property, and freedom. Whatever good intentions the liberal had are nullified by his/her lack of respect for your own autonomy. He/she doesn’t have the right to force you to help. Should you help? Yes, but in a manner of your own choosing. If you elect not to help, that choice is between you and God, not between you and your liberal friend. The liberal does not have the right to imprison you should you decide not to help for reasons of your own. And that is what governmental coercion offers: do it our way, give us your (tax) money, or go to prison.
Expand this notion into the general population. Liberals wish to tax the wealthy to provide for the poor. They say it is patriotic and neighborly. Again, the issue is coercion. Government clearly cannot force a man to be truly patriotic; if it tries, it will just as likely stir up bitterness and resentment. Wealth taken without consent is theft, and patriotism is an emotion that cannot be force fed. Similarly, it is not in the government’s purview to force one to be neighborly. The government is neither my parent nor yours, if anything, the reverse is true. If I choose to be patriotic, I will support the government in whatever way I deem appropriate. Similarly, if I choose to be neighborly, I will assist whomever I wish to the extent I wish. I will not have government lurking over me as a kind of altruism enforcer—as if that makes any sense at all.
I would sum up the difference between the two philosophies as this: Liberals want to take care of you. Conservatives want you to take care of yourself. Which one, do you think, treats you like a child, and which one, like an adult? With our current government, I fully expect the corrosion of freedom to continue. I would warn my liberal friends, however, with this analogy: every law and regulation, be it applicable to corporations or the individual, is like a string tied from the governing body to its object whether such an object be the individual or a business. In and of itself, it is a small thing, barely noticeable. However, taken with hundreds, nay, thousands of others it becomes something of a threat. Inevitably, the time will come when you will find yourself cocooned, bound head to toe in the threads of law. At such a point, freedom will be lost to you and you will find yourself immobilized by the myriad laws you have constructed.
(Cue dramatic music and exit.)