Depending upon which circle of friends you run with, the term "liberal" and "conservative" are thrown around a lot. If you are a conservative, "liberal" means bad. If you are a liberal, "conservative" means bad. These terms are so draped in emotion (mainly hate and anger) that their true definitions have been lost. Here are the actual definitions according to dictionary.com: conservative (Adj.)
- disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
- cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
- traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
- (often initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
- (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
- having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.
- favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
- (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
- of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
- favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
- favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
- of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
- free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
- open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
I definitely lean towards liberal, but I noticed something in the conservative definition that was attractive; "having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative". Given the financial, energy and environmental situation today, this is something that needs to be emphasized. It's something that the McCain campaign could use as a central message to counter the Obama "Change" slogan. Unfortunately, conservation is a tough sell in America. First, because it requires a long term view (difficult for anyone in today's society), and second, it demands sacrifice. As I recall, this used to be a central theme of the Republican party (think Teddy Roosevelt), but has been lost in recent administrations.
Both parties should take a clean slate approach and actually think about what liberal and conservative really mean - historically and literally. They might be in for a surprise.