Progressive v. Conservative ideologies, not the candidates, are the real drivers in this election *UPDATED*

Clinton and Trump photo
Photo by tedeytan

A Progressive friend is relentlessly pushing “Trump is awful” stories on me. I, a conservative, invariably counter by pointing out that Hillary’s list of sins and failures is infinitely worse.

I realized yesterday that my arguments are irrelevant. My friend will never vote for someone who is not 100% pro-abortion, pro-socialized medicine, or pro-open borders.  Given a choice between a rotting dead body that is pro-Abortion and a genuine angel from Heaven that is pro-Choice, he’d vote for the rotting body every time.

Even as we endlessly talk down the other side’s candidates (because few people are really comfortable talking their own candidate up in this bizarre election year), what really matters is the ideological divide underlying this election. The following list might help you decide on which side of that divide you live. Once you decide, do remember that you will never get people to accept your candidate, no matter how flawed their own candidate, until you get them to accept your ideology.

National security

  • Conservatives believe that America and her allies are safest when America projects military strength that acts as a deterrent to predatory actors around the world.
  • Progressives believe that America is itself a predatory actor and that it and, indeed, the rest of the world are safest when it is passive and weak.


  • Conservatives believe that guns’ defensive benefits far outweigh their ability to kill.
  • Progressives believe that guns have no utility other than killing and that only police should be allowed to carry them.


  • Conservatives acknowledge that, among America’s approximately 1.5 million state and federal police, there are individual bad actors, including racists, but strongly believe that the vast majority are decent men and women who routinely put their lives at risk to keep the American public safe.
  • Progressives believe that America’s police are inherently racist and corrupt and that they must be kept on the shortest leash possible, especially when dealing with the inner city black community (but that they and private bodyguards to celebrities should still be the only people allowed to have guns).


  • Conservatives try to heed Martin Luther King’s dictum to look past the color of people’s skin in order to judge them by the content of their character.
  • Progressives believe that race is of paramount importance in that it determines both how people act and how others act towards them.


  • Conservatives acknowledge that some people are born sociopaths or psychopaths, but they also believe that people are rational actors and that a society that refuses to hold criminals accountable for their actions and refuses to impose strong deterrents (e.g., armed, law-abiding citizens) against crime, incentivizes crime.
  • Progressives believe that all criminal acts that blacks commit are because of racism, while all criminal acts that white Americans commit are because white Americans, especially poor white Americans, are weak, inbred, and stupid (and usually racist).


  • Conservatives believe that a moral society must take care of those unable to care for themselves, but that it’s also immoral to create a system that gives incentives to able-bodied people to shape their lives so as to conform to welfare requirements, allowing them to avoid work (and I know of many such people).
  • Progressives believe that, while middle-class Progressives routinely conform their lives to the education-marriage-job-children metric that prevents poverty, it’s racist and classist to expect that of minorities and poor (and stupid) whites.


  • Conservatives believe that America’s strength comes from a constant infusion of immigrants but they also believe that, as a sovereign nation, America gets to decide (for better or worse) which immigrants it wants at a given time and how many.
  • Progressives believe that borders are racist and that they allow America to hog resources; therefore, they support an open border that allows the unchecked, unvetted, free flow into America of people from the entire world, all of whom are entitled to full benefits upon their arrival.


  • Conservatives believe that life begins somewhere on the continuum between conception and viability.
  • Progressives believe that life begins at some indeterminate time after birth.


  • Conservatives believe that your family loves you and will willingly take on debt to save your life.
  • Progressives believe that the state loves you and will willingly allocate funds to save your life.

Socialized medicine

  • Conservatives believe that a free market and an educated public are the best way to drive down medical and insurance costs, something regularly proven in the real world.
  • Progressives believe that the government is the best way to drive down medical costs and increase access to care, something that has never been proven in the real world (including in Europe, which is seeing its health care system collapse now that American Cold War dollars are almost gone).

Judeo-Christian ideology

  • Conservatives believe that the Judeo-Christian ideology that has governed America for more than two centuries, while sometimes imperfectly practiced (e.g.,slavery), is still the best ideology for creating a safe and prosperous world, one peopled by decent, generous and moral citizens.
  • Progressives believe that the Judeo-Christian ideology is racist, misogynist, and homophobic, and that the world will be best served if it could be wiped out.

Radical Islam

  • Conservatives believe that, while the majority of Muslims are not terrorists, the Koran contains within it an incitement to cruelly-effected world domination, and that Western nations must fight against that mindset both on the battlefield and in the world of the mind.
  • Progressives believe that Islam is a “Religion of Peace” and that anyone who engages in the type of violent activity called for under the Koran is not actually Muslim.


  • Conservatives believe that Israel is as decent a country as one will find, one that has managed to maintain its commitment to individual liberties for all citizens, regardless of race, religion, country of national origin, sex, or sexual orientation, despite being under extraordinary genocidal pressures from the Muslims surrounding it, all of whom get moral and material support from Europe (and, sadly, from the Obama administration too).
  • Progressives think that Israel is a colonial oppressor that deserves to be destroyed, whether quickly through all-out warfare or slowly through the demographic pressure of a two-state solution augmented by the “right of return” (a unique refugee benefit limited solely to Palestinians).

Big Government

  • Conservatives believe that big government is dangerous, because those who work within it, once they obtain power, are capable of doing anything to maintain that power.
  • Progressives believe that, no matter the question, big government is the answer, and are certain that their navel-gazing makes them sufficiently righteous to avoid the sins of an all-powerful government seen in places such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, ISIS territory, etc.

The Constitution

  • Conservatives believe that the Constitution is the most brilliant political document ever created, with timeless rules that ensure that the government is always subordinate to individual liberty.
  • Progressives believe that the Constitution is the outdated product of racist, misogynistic, homophobic white men and should be removed from its centrality in American life.

The Supreme Court

  • Conservatives believe that all Supreme Court decisions most draw their principles from the Constitution as written.
  • Progressives believe that all Supreme Court decisions must draw their principles from whatever they can find that justifies a Progressive outcome.

Free Speech

  • Conservatives believe that actions count more than words and that free speech, even ugly speech, is the cornerstone of a free society.
  • Progressives believe that conservative words hurt, that Progressives are entitled to take violent action to censor conservative words, and that free speech has the potential to be mean and should therefore be limited only to Progressives.

Religious Liberty

  • Conservatives believe that people should be allowed to look to their religious values to govern their conduct, provided that their conduct does not stray beyond the agreed-upon parameters of modern Judeo-Christian morality (no virgin sacrifices, no ritual murder, no slavery, etc.).
  • Progressives believe that, because the Judeo-Christian doctrine is inherently flawed, people should not be able to act on their religious beliefs on pain of financial penalties and imprisonment.

Same-Sex Marriage

  • Conservatives believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and are worried that, with the Supreme Court having looked far beyond the Constitution (and into tawdry gay romance novels) to assert that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, the state will interfere with their religious liberty and insist that civil marriages aren’t enough — all churches and synagogues (but not mosques, of course) will have to perform same-sex marriages.
  • Progressives believe that marriage is a dated concept, but nevertheless want it to apply to any and all combinations of humans (same sex, multiple sexes) as well as to human-adroid match-ups and human-animal match-ups, and they want the state to destroy anyone who refuses to be a party to these new-style marriages.

Climate Change

  • Conservatives believe that the climate is changing because it has always changed, mostly in response to changes in the sun, and like to point out that actual facts support this hypothesis.
  • Progressive believe that the climate is changing because of the West’s abusive, carbon-generating activities, and insist that the science bears this out, even though the past twenty years have proven that the most extreme predictions were wrong, the less extremely predictions were mostly wrong, and that any scientific statements about climate change that appear to be correct manage to appear that way only because of data manipulation.


  • Conservatives believe that mankind is the earth’s steward (whether because God said so or because humans what to preserve the earth for their progeny), which requires us to do what we can to limit man’s negative interaction with nature but that, when there is conflict between man and nature, humans should have the edge.
  • Progressives believe that mankind is a parasite on earth and that, not only should we limit man’s negative interaction with nature, we should ensure that, in any conflict (whether with spotted owls, Delta smelts, little lizards, etc.) man must always yield.


  • Conservatives believe that there are two sexes — male and female — which are determined at the genetic level and that mistakes in this coding are rare.
  • Progressives, despite their claim to be the science-based community, believe that gender is a construct, that XX and XY chromosomes are meaningless, and that people are whatever sex they say they are at whatever hour or minute they feel that way.


  • Conservatives, like the French of old, celebrate la difference, although they strongly believe that all people should receive equal treatment under the law, equal pay for equal work, and equal access to education, jobs, housing, etc.
  • Progressives believe that men are dangerous and inferior and the corollary that women are wonderful and superior — except when it comes to Hillary Clinton, who is simultaneously incredibly superior and so fragile that she cannot handle it when Trump talks to her, interrupts her, or stands near her.

College education

  • Conservatives believe that people who graduate from modern American colleges are indoctrinated.
  • Progressives believe that people who graduate from modern American colleges are educated.

Trump is the candidate who openly stands for the conservative ideology; Hillary is the candidate who openly stands for the Progressive ideology. If you cannot get someone to buy into your particular ideology, you will not be able to get them to buy into your candidate — and that’s irrespective of the actual candidates’ sins and virtues.

(I’ll be out and about today, but if you add more couplets to the comments, I’ll try to update this post.)

UPDATES: My brilliant readers have chimed in. Thanks to Danny Lemieux for the first two suggestions, Jedi Jones for the third , and Servo 1969 for the fourth:


  • Conservatives believe that poverty is the result of denial of human opportunity, whether by economic regulations, laws combined with human spiritual failings (such as bad behavior, sloth, greed, etc.) for which people must take responsibility as individuals
  • Progressives believe that poverty is the result of material dislocations due to societal failings (i.e. “isms”) and that individuals cannot be held responsible for their own poverty.


  • Conservatives believe that criminal behavior is due to personal failings.
  • Progressives believe that criminal behavior is due to material /economic deprivation.


  • Conservatives often hold themselves to a stricter moral code with respect to sexuality but also believe that what people do behind closed doors is their business. As long as people don’t force the rest of us to hear about their alternative sexual lifestyles through schools, the media and the legal system, conservatives don’t care what you do in your private life.
  • Liberals believe that society is too “heteronormative.” They believe that any alternative sexual lifestyle that anyone can think of should be celebrated, applauded, broadcast on public airwaves, given special workplace protections and taught to schoolchildren. Even though they don’t believe that people were born as male or female, they do believe that gay people were “born that way.” Despite this belief, there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that people with a particular sexual preference are trying to recruit, convert and seduce others into their lifestyle.

The role of government

  • Conservatives believe there is no situation so bad it can’t be made worse by adding more government.
  • Progressives believe there is no situation so good it can’t be improved by adding more government.