The true meaning of conservative? liberal?

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.)

  1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
  2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
  3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
  4. (often initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
  5. (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
  6. having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.

liberal (Adj.)

  1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
  2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
  3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
  4. 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.
  5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
  6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
  7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
  8. 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.