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The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.

MARK TWAIN, Mark Twain's Notebook

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.

G.K. CHESTERTON, Illustrated London News, Apr. 19, 1924

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals -- if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

RONALD REAGAN, Reason Magazine, Jul. 1, 1975

Conservatives are inclined to use the powers of government to prevent change or to limit its rate to whatever appeals to the more timid mind. In looking forward, they lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment which makes the liberal accept changes without apprehension, even though he does not know how the necessary adaptations will be brought about.

FRIEDRICH HAYEK, Why I Am Not a Conservative

Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen.

MORT SAHL, quoted in Moments of Clarity

Conservatives do not believe that political struggle is the most important thing in life...The simplest among them prefer fox-hunting—the wisest religion.

QUINTIN HOGG, The Case for Conservatism

For me, one of the most disturbing elements of the right wing's political agenda is that it believes that there is one correct spiritual and moral path for all people to follow. The danger inherent in this is its explicit refusal to accept anyone who happens to lead a different lifestyle, and the condemnation of those who differ.

BARBRA STREISAND, The Advocate, Aug. 17, 1999

Conservatives believe in equality of opportunity. Liberals believe in equality of outcome.

MIKE ROSEN, Rocky Mountain News, Mar. 31, 2000

Conservatives are more religious than liberals--although there is no evidence that they're nicer people because of it.

ANDY ROONEY, Common Nonsense

The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas -- uncertainty, progress, change -- into crimes.

SALMAN RUSHDIE, speech, Feb. 6, 1990

All conservatives are such from personal defects. They have been effeminated by position or nature, born halt and blind, through luxury of their parents, and can only, like invalids, act on the defensive.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Conduct of Life

To be conservative requires no brains whatsoever. Cabbages, cows and conifers are conservatives, and are so stupid they don’t even know it. All that is basically required is acceptance of what exists.

COLIN WELCH, London Spectator, Jul. 21, 1967

Somehow liberals have been unable to acquire from life what conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government agencies to do good.

DANIEL P. MOYNIHAN, New York Post, May 14, 1969

To a right-winger, unions are awful. Why do right-wingers hate unions? Because collective bargaining is the power that a worker has against the corporation. Right-wingers hate that.

JANEANE GAROFALO, Majority Report, Jun. 3, 2005

Conservatives want to make the poor rich, while liberals want to make the rich poor.

MARK W. SMITH, The Official Handbook of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Liberals and conservatives disagree over what are the most important sins. For conservatives, the sins that matter are personal irresponsibility, the flight from family life, sexual permissiveness, the failure of individuals to work hard. For liberals, the gravest sins are intolerance, a lack of generosity toward the needy, narrow-mindedness toward social and racial minorities.

E.J. DIONNE, JR., The War Against Public Life

What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, Feb. 27, 1860

A riddle, Madam Chairman. When is government spending not government spending? And on the other hand, when does government spending which, according to the conservatives, destroys jobs, in fact create jobs? The answer is when it's for weapons. We have, on the other side, a form of weaponized Keynesianism. When it comes to spending money to build roads or improve medical infrastructure or do other things that are enhancing the quality of life, they tell us that government spending doesn't create a job. But when we are talking about continuing to produce weapons that have the admirable purpose of defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and we're still producing the weapons, then somehow we have to keep them going because of its job creation capacity.... I am amazed that people can lament spending and forget the elephant in the room. And when the elephant forgets the elephant in the room, I suppose it's even more surprising, because it is massive military spending now and for the future that is the problem.... The budget that my friends on the other side would like commits us to spending billions of dollars to defend Prague against Iran. I'd rather protect old people against poverty.

BARNEY FRANK, congressional budget resolution for FY10, Apr. 2, 2009

Liberalism is an attitude rather than a set of dogmas—an attitude that insists upon questioning all plausible and self-evident propositions, seeking not to reject them but to find out what evidence there is to support them rather than their possible alternatives. This open eye for possible alternatives which need to be scrutinized before we can determine which is the best grounded is profoundly disconcerting to all conservatives.... Conservatism clings to what has been established, fearing that, once we begin to question the beliefs we have inherited, all the values of life will be destroyed.

MORRIS RAPHAEL COHEN, The Faith of a Liberal

He who today utters a bold truth that seems to shock some old institution with the premonition of destruction, and that scares men from their propriety, will a hundred years hence be regarded as a remarkably conservative man. And yet the people who stand peculiarly upon what they call the foundations of conservatism, and hold to hard, practical facts, now stand upon that which one hundred years ago was rank heresy.

E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words

Success makes men rigid and they tend to exalt stability over all the other virtues; tired of the effort of willing they become fanatics about conservatism.

WALTER LIPPMANN, A Preface to Politics

The conservative may clamor against reform, but he might as well clamor against the centrifugal force. He sighs for the "good old times,"--he might as well wish the oak back into the acorn.

E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, Radio Address to the New York Herald Tribune Forum, Oct. 26, 1939


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