Difference Between Liberal and Conservative

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Liberal and Conservative

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Before you can effectively choose the right candidate or political party to vote for, it’s important to know what they believe and why they believe it. While conservatism and liberalism both promote individual freedom, there are some fundamental differences between the two movements, especially when it comes to how people should define their freedom and personal rights. To understand how liberal and conservative differ, you need to first understand what each philosophy means on its terms.

You might be surprised to learn just how many conflicting opinions there are between liberals and conservatives. This is perhaps best illustrated by an argument on health care. Liberals feel that people should have a right to health care, while conservatives believe it is each person’s responsibility to provide for themselves. Regardless of your political leanings, learning more about where you stand can help you make informed decisions in other areas of your life. Consider these seven important topics to better understand what defines liberal vs conservative views

LGBT Rights. One issue that most clearly illustrates this divide is gay marriage or homosexual relationships. While conservatives support traditional marriage as defined by heterosexual couples, liberals tend to see civil unions and other arrangements as having equal weight with traditional marriage. The two ideologies also differ in how they view gender roles—liberals tend to place less importance on strict roles based on sex assigned at birth than do those who define as conservatively minded. As you can imagine, many other political issues are heavily influenced by these two conflicting viewpoints. In fact, for some of them (like abortion), it’s difficult to even think about one without taking into account how it relates to your political leanings. For example: if you believe that people should have a right to choose whether or not they have an abortion (the liberal viewpoint), then you might be inclined to vote for candidates who agree with you—as opposed to someone whose stance would restrict a woman’s right (the conservative stance). You may be surprised just how much these differences come up in conversation.

Let's get right into it! We'll compare some core beliefs of both parties.

  1. Fiscal Policy - Liberals support raising taxes on higher-income earners while conservatives don't want to raise taxes at all and claim that lowering taxes increases revenues. In short, liberals support larger government spending (welfare programs) than conservatives do. On contrary, conservatives support lower tax rates than liberals do.
  2. Immigration Reform - Conservatives tend to favor restrictions on immigration and increased border security. They oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants but support guest worker programs that would allow undocumented workers already in America to stay here legally if they meet certain requirements. Liberals generally favor less restriction on immigration and more open borders. They oppose most efforts to strengthen border security or increase penalties against illegal immigrants who live here now.
  3. Education Reforms - Conservatives generally promote school choice reforms like charter schools, vouchers, tuition tax credits, etc., where parents can send their children to any school of their choice irrespective of whether it's public or private without paying any tuition fees whatsoever. Liberals generally oppose school choice reforms and think that every child should go to public schools only.
  4. Welfare Programs - Liberals support welfare programs such as food stamps, housing assistance, Medicare, etc. They think that no one should starve or suffer from a lack of basic needs just because he/she doesn't have enough money to fulfill those needs. On contrary, conservatives think that welfare programs discourage work ethic among poor people and thus make them lazy instead of encouraging self-sufficiency.

Liberal vs Conservative

The main differences between these two ideologies are their views on: Government intervention in business, Individual freedom vs. Government power, Religion, The role of government in providing social services, Size of government. One is more likely to be liberal if they agree with these statements: Wealthy people should pay higher taxes (money taken away from them), Government can solve problems that individuals cannot solve alone. One is more likely to be conservative if they agree with these statements: The government should regulate less than it does now, States’ rights are more important than federal laws, Marijuana should be legalized federally (like alcohol or tobacco), Legal abortion is okay when a women's life is at risk. One is more likely to be liberal if they have these traits: Open-mindedness, Intelligence, Acceptance of diversity, and Tolerance for opposing points of view. One is more likely to be conservative if they have these traits: Conservatism/traditionalism, Religiousness/spirituality/belief in God(s), and Desire for authority and order in society. Conservatives tend to believe that humans are inherently evil and will always do bad things unless controlled by an outside force. Liberals tend to believe that humans have both good and bad qualities, but mostly good ones. They trust human nature, rather than fear it. Conservatives fear crime; liberals don't worry about crime as much because they feel there are enough rules and regulations to prevent crime without having any new laws created. Conservatives believe there need to be stricter immigration policies; liberals think immigration helps make America stronger economically, socially, culturally, etc., so immigration policies shouldn't change very much from what they currently are.

Difference Between Liberal and Conservative in Tabular Form

Parameters of comparison Liberal Conservation
Define A liberal is someone who supports progressive views Conservatives believe in preserving what they believe to be good.
Social Welfare Liberal support long-haul government assistance to accommodate the necessities of the poor in the public eye. The conservation is against the drawn-out government assistance they favor empowering individuals to be more autonomous and quit depending on the public authority.
Acquiescence to Authority Liberals generally need to work outside the socially-forced limitations. Conservatives will generally submit to the common, mainstream and regard senior individuals from the family from their life as a youngster.
Stability          Liberals are not happy with the ordinary, they are continuously looking for variety and will constantly scrutinize the state of affairs run.      conservatives need to keep up with the norm. They will generally uphold the specialists they are more worried about the request.

What is Liberal?

A liberal is someone who supports progressive views. Historically, liberals were affiliated with left-wing politics. However, modern liberals (as well as conservatives) will say that ideology shouldn’t determine one’s political party. The term liberal originally had a more specific definition than it does today. Liberals once stood for a pro-business agenda and were generally favorable to state intervention in economic affairs. Today, however, liberalism has come to be associated with social progressivism. Social issues like women’s rights, gay rights, and racial equality are all part of a liberal platform. Modern liberalism tends to favor higher taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals so that government can fund programs such as universal health care or welfare programs. Many people who identify themselves as liberal also support environmental protection policies such as clean energy initiatives or measures designed to reduce global warming. Conservatives tend to take opposing stances on these issues. They argue that higher taxes hurt businesses and make it harder for companies to hire new workers. They also criticize big government projects like universal healthcare because they feel they are inefficient or too expensive. Conservatives often disagree with progressives over social issues as well, especially when it comes to hot-button topics like abortion and same-sex marriage. While many Americans believe there is little difference between liberals and conservatives, both sides tend to disagree about how much influence religion should have in politics. Liberals tend to oppose mixing church and state while conservatives argue that religious values should play an important role in shaping public policy decisions.

What is Conservative?

Conservatives believe in preserving what they believe to be good. Thus, conservatism is often viewed as a synonym for traditionalism, conformity, or resistance to change. A conservative prefers to conserve commonly accepted values and lifestyles (especially those promoted by their nation, community, culture, or religion), viewing technological innovation and changes in social norms with suspicion. Conservatives tend to oppose all efforts which are viewed as dangerous or immoral trends that may have unintended consequences in society. The term conservative was originally applied to supporters of an old political faction called The Tories, which included royalists, landed gentry, and especially those with high church sympathies such as Anglicans. The modern Conservative Party in Britain was founded by Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister from 1834-1835 and 1841-1846. He created it to support constitutional monarchy against further democratic reform. In Europe today, conservatives generally support free-market capitalism, private ownership of property, and strong national defense while opposing government regulation, state welfare programs, and policies that would infringe on personal freedoms. Conservatives also typically advocate monarchism or some form of oligarchy where power is held by a small number of elite individuals rather than democratically elected representatives.

The Main Difference Between Liberal and Conservative in Points

  • The two words Liberal and Conservative seem to be commonly confused in political vocabulary. The Democrats are portrayed as a liberal party whereas Republicans are portrayed as a conservative party.
  • Their stereotyping is understandable due to their policies that determine what ideologies they possess. These can also be categorized by different social issues that these parties tend to discuss. Some of these include immigration reform, fiscal policy, gay marriage rights, education, the death penalty, etc.
  • There's more debate on which side of the fence is truly correct because people come from different backgrounds all over with different lifestyles making them fight for what they believe in and vote accordingly; though while doing so they aren't too aware of how much these ideologies differ.  
  • Political ideologies are known for being incredibly complicated. Conservatives believe that individuals should be self-reliant, whereas liberals believe that government should play a large role in Americans’ lives.
  • Yet even though these two political ideologies seem very different on paper, they share many commonalities. In reality, there is no single definition of liberalism or conservatism—the definitions for both words vary depending on what country you’re in (the same is true for other ideologies like socialism and communism).
  • When people think about American politics, they often think about liberalism versus conservatism. These two political philosophies have been at odds since America was founded, but it can be difficult to understand exactly what liberalism and conservatism mean. To begin with, let’s look at some basic principles of liberalism: Individual Freedom/Rights - Liberals tend to value individual freedom over collective rights.
  • The government's role is not to interfere in citizens' personal lives unless necessary; however, liberals also believe that all people deserve equal rights under the law regardless of social status or race.
  • The free market - If you want something done right, then do it yourself! Liberals tend to support a free market economy where businesses compete against one another to give consumers better products at lower prices.
  • Limited Government - Liberals believe that big government tends to lead to corruption and abuse of power, so they support having limited powers within our system of checks and balances.
  • Social Welfare Programs - Since big business doesn't always take care of its own, liberals support programs such as welfare and universal healthcare so everyone has access to health care when needed.
  • Civil Rights - Everyone deserves equal treatment under the law regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. This includes voting rights for women and minorities who were once denied these privileges due to racism or sexism.
  • Environmentalism - Liberals tend to be more environmentally conscious than conservatives, believing that humans need to protect nature rather than exploit it. Now let’s take a look at some of the main tenets of conservatism:
  • Tradition - Conservatives place great importance on tradition and family values. They believe in doing things the way they've always been done instead of questioning things or taking risks.
  • Small Government - Conservatives prefer less regulation and oversight from government officials because they feel it interferes with business owners' ability to run their companies freely without interference.
  • Military Strength - Conservatives generally favor a strong military presence around the world for protection purposes as well as ensuring global stability through strength and intimidation tactics.


As you can see, no matter how much people might claim to be different, when it comes down to it, all that matters is what we want. If you want more money or fame—liberal ideals—you’ll do things differently than if you want to defend your conservative principles. Once you know what matters most to you, making decisions becomes a lot easier. It also makes it easier for others to understand how your mind works because ultimately, everything boils down to wants and needs. Even if one isn’t more important than another; at least now, there’s a way for us all to understand each other better!



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"Difference Between Liberal and Conservative." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 12 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-liberal-and-conservative-435>.

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