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Elizabeth Price Foley confused by terms "liberal" and "conservative"

Elizabeth Price Foley is a constitutional law professor and author of the book The Tea Party: Three Principles. Over at the site of Glenn Reynolds, she offers a guest post [1] that even someone like Sean Hannity would realize is clueless:

HOW PUBLIC SCHOOLS DEFINE "LIBERAL" & "CONSERVATIVE" (I KID YOU NOT): My middle school-aged daughter was studying for a civics test on the American political system. Two of her vocabulary words were "liberal" and "conservative." Here are the definitions she was supposed to memorize:

"Liberal: favorable to progress or reform, as in political, social or religious affairs."

"Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones and limit change."

So let me get this straight: Liberals are "favorable to progress" while conservatives are "disposed to . . . limit change." Ugh.

I had to write my daughter's teacher a note to politely point out that while these might be decent generic definitions of the words, they are not accurate in the specific context of a civics class or study of the American political system. In that context, the relevant distinction between liberals and conservatives has nothing to do with being favorable or unfavorable toward "progress" or "change," but a difference in view about the proper size and scope of governmental power, with liberals believing generally in bigger government, conservatives believing generally in smaller government.

If this is how our children are learning to define "liberals" and "conservatives," we are in BIG trouble, folks. Anyone with kids out there needs to monitor their child's civics materials carefully.

Out with standing athwart history, in with just drowning the government in a bathtub. Perhaps Foley's problem is just that she took a wrong turn.

While the two terms mean different things to different people and have meant different things depending on who's in office and who's cutting the checks, Foley and those of her ilk need to brush up on history. For instance, this.

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[1] pjmedia dot com/instapundit/154077, both terms are linked to their definitions at dictionary.reference.com

Other tags: tea parties

Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:32 · Importance: 4