The other day my niece asked me if I were planning on voting for Sen. Obama for President. I answered that I would not. She asked me why I didn’t plan on voting for Obama, so I explained that I couldn’t vote for him for two reasons. First, he doesn’t have the experience as an executive that I believe is necessary for a President. I told her that I wouldn’t choose someone to lead a large company who had no experience leading other companies first. Likewise, I couldn’t support Obama for President when he has no executive experience and when he has yet to serve out his first term as a Senator. The position of President is too important to experiment on people whom we can only hope have the skills and temperament necessary to handle the job. Then I explained that Obama’s political philosophy is the second reason why I couldn’t vote for him.

Which brought me to the question I was faced with — how to explain the difference between liberal and conservative political philosophies in a way that would make sense to an 11-year-old?

I explained to her that the two political philosophies differ fundamentally in how they view people. To liberals, Americans are children who need to be taken care of by the government; to conservatives, Americans are adults who are able to take care of themselves. And I prefer to be treated as an adult.

A day later a caller asked Glenn Beck what it means to be a conservative. Here was his response:

To be a conservative is, in my definition, is somebody that believes in the power of the individual, somebody that believes, please let me make my decisions, that I have a right to succeed and not be penalized for it. I have a right to fail and have no one run to me if I don’t want them to run to me. A conservative believes I have a right to manage my family, I have a right to discipline my family in the way I see fit, as long as it is not criminal. A conservative believes I have the right to worship God, I have a right to worship the God of my understanding, and I do not have the right to jam my version of God down anybody else’s throat or my version of no God down anybody’s throat. A conservative believes live and let live. That’s what a conservative believes. A conservative believes in the smallest amount of government, the smallest government you can get without anarchy. That’s what a conservative believes.

While I agree with that, I think it gets a little wordy. I prefer the way Jim Quinn, another talk show host, defines liberals and conservatives:

For a conservative, freedom is the solution to the human condition, and government’s job is to ensure the people’s liberty. And every new life is a potential source of creativity and wealth. For a liberal, government is the solution of the human condition, and government should force everyone to behave as it sees fit. And every new life is a potential problem and burden to be taken care of.

And that’s simple enough for an 11-year-old to understand.

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