The way to really define a word in English is often to find its root in Latin.
The word "liberal," for example, comes from the Latin "liberalism," meaning free, according to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary. Websters goes on to state that "liberalism" specifically meant a free man, one who is not a slave, and other meanings of the word, like "generous" and "noble," derive from the attribution of such traits to those with higher social rank, freemen.
"Conservative" is the adjectival form of "conserve" which comes from "conservare" which combines "com" which implies intensity and "servare" meaning "to preserve."
After the root is given, Websters lists nine different definitions for liberal and five definitions for conservative, further proof of the bias of the elite intelligentsia who write these dictionaries.
In both cases the definitions include, of course, those who subscribe to political tendencies or parties that have conservative or liberal views. Then Websters defines those views.
A conservative tends to oppose change and favors traditional views and values. Another definition is cautious and moderate.
One could be rude and say that conservatives are fearful. They fear change and loss, thus the need to preserve what they have. On the other hand, I don't think that's such an insult, since fear is an underrated emotion.
Fear is the primal emotion, the one probably most experienced by our furry little ancestors who lived in constant danger of death by predators, disease or fluctuations in climate. Fear is good because fear is what keeps you alive.
Change involves risk and the possibility of loss. Thus being cautious is a benefit that can ensure survival.
A liberal, on the political level, is one who supports civil liberties, democratic reforms and use of government power to promote social progress. I think some conservatives interpret this as meaning they want to tax the rich to make sure the poor make progress.
In a more general sense, liberals support "the freedom of individuals to act or express themselves as they choose." Also, it means "tolerant of the ideas or behavior of others."
That's the definition I like the most. It sounds good to me. Not every person who defines themselves as liberal lives up to that definition (extreme vegans come to mind), but in general I like it.
But the idea of being a little cautious at times also sounds good to me. I also like the conservative viewpoint that people are responsible for their own actions and should try to contribute something to the society that supports them.
So that's why I'm a moderate, despite the fact that in our polarized nation that is fast becoming a sin. The origin of that word is "moderare," meaning "to reduce." The political definition is "opposed to extreme or radical views or measures, especially in politics or religions."
It also means "of average or medium quantity, quality or extent" and a synonym is "mild." That part I don't much care for, but Webster's just doesn't provide a clear definition for "Ed Brock."
Guess that's up to me.
Ed Brock covers public safety and municipal governments for the Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .