It takes a lot more integrity, character, and courage to be a conservative than it does to be a liberal. That's because at its most basic level, liberalism is nothing more than childlike emotionalism applied to adult issues.
Going to war is mean, so we shouldn't do it. That person is poor and it would be nice to give him money, so the government should do it. Somebody wants to have an abortion, have a gay marriage, or wants to come into the U.S. illegally and it would be mean to say, "no," so we should let them. I am nice because I care about global warming! Those people want to kill us? But, don't they know we're nice? If they did, they would like us! Bill has more
toys, money than Harry, so take half of Bill's money and give it to Harry.
The only exception to this rule is for people who aren't liberals. They're racists, bigots, homophobes, Nazis, fascists, etc., etc., etc. They might as well just say that conservatives have "cooties" for disagreeing with them, because there really isn't any more thought or reasoning that goes into it than that.
Now, that's not to say that conservatives never make emotion based arguments or that emotion based arguments are always wrong. But, when you try to deal with complex, real world issues, using little more than simplistic emotionalism that's primarily designed to make the people advocating it feel good rather than to deal with problems, it can, and often has had disastrous consequences. Liberals never seem to learn from this.
Why don't they learn anything from failed liberal policies? Because there is nothing underpinning them other than feelings and so even when they don't work, their good intentions are treated, by other liberals at least, as more important than the results of their actions.
Just to name one example of many, look at Vietnam. South Vietnam was policing its own country and holding off aggression from the North with the help of the United States. But, people get hurt in wars, so wars are bad. As a result of thinking that went no deeper than that, liberals in Congress cut off the aid and air support we promised the South Vietnamese. The result?
The conquest of South Vietnam, a holocaust in Cambodia, millions dead and in prison camps, another million boat people, a crisis of confidence in America, and our country's reputation around the world was left in tatters, which led to a revolution in Nicaragua, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and a lack of faith in the U.S. military which wasn't truly restored until Operation Desert Storm.
So, we're talking about one of the most shameful and damaging mistakes in American history. Yet, the left is pushing to do the same thing in Iraq, despite the fact that catastrophic consequences would surely also follow a U.S. retreat in that country.
But, this isn't just about foreign policy. Look at Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty," which did nothing to reduce the poverty rate despite the trillions that were spent; however, it did help drive the illegitimacy rate among black Americans from 22 percent in 1960 to 70% in 2005.
You could go on and on with these sort of examples -- rent control, which causes housing shortages, the minimum wage, which costs poor people jobs, the liberal insistence on putting “making nice at the U.N.” above looking out for American interests. That's what happens when you make decisions based on emotion and wanting people to like you, rather than using logic and doing the right thing.
Unlike liberals, conservatives tend to be primarily concerned with pragmatism, not niceties. This is one of the biggest reasons that conservatives have such a healthy respect for the traditions and institutions that have been proven to work over time and such contempt for those that don't, like the United Nations and the federal government.
Does that mean conservatives are opposed to change? No, not at all, but there is a great reluctance to tinker with ideas and concepts that have proven successful time and time again throughout history, because the more they’re changed, the more likely they are not to work.
Moreover, in Thomas Sowell's immortal words, conservatives believe that, "There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs." Because of this, conservatives regularly do something that liberals seldom do: they consider the long-term consequences of their policies.
Sometimes in politics, that's a tough duty. It's always easier to say, "We're going to use someone else's tax money to give you this right now," than it is to say, "We're going to keep government out of your way and let you do this for yourself." But, that's the path conservatives have chosen for themselves. They’re willing to be attacked and called, in some form or fashion, "mean" in order to advocate policies that are good for the country.
In the end, that's what liberalism versus conservatism all comes down to: sappy, feel good emotionalism that sounds appealing, but doesn't work versus doing things the right way, even when it's not easy.