In Need of Translation?

Excuse me, but can someone please explain to me what is a fiscal conservative/social liberal?

This definition baffles me completely, according to my understanding and I am not an expert either in politics or economics, it is a complete contradiction of terms. Maybe it is my English?

In my dictionary, it is not enough that someone is pro choice and/or pro gay rights to label him a liberal, it can make him a good old fashioned conservative NOT a fanatic religious/self-righteous one.

Please help, thank you!

7 thoughts on “In Need of Translation?

  1. Tracyb

    I’m married to one! He’s not a self-righteous religious weirdo either, in fact he doesn’t really believe in a traditional defenition of “God”. He just doesn’t want to pay a crap load of taxes. Although I think he is beginning to realize that we need universal health care, we should not be in Iraq, people should be able to love whomever they want. . . hey maybe I’m wearing off on him. Really, I think it was George that did him in. He told my daughters today he will vote for Barack Obama. I’ve never heard him say he would vote for a democrat in the 18 years we’ve been married.

  2. Jocelyn

    I think that what’s it’s generally meant (at least in my neck of the woods), is that you’ve got a person who is a firm believer in the no/low taxes, don’t spend on social programs, don’t borrow or build up the national debt, but is liberal with regards to “moral” issues (gay marriage, abortion, etc). The reason this is necessary is because moral conservatism has become so closely associated with Republicans, whose main schtick when I was growing up was less about prescriptive morals, and more about the fiscal stuff. As a linguist, of course, I always find these kinds of label changes interesting, because it says something about the new norm (e.g., that it has changed and no longer matches the older definition of the term; “mom” did this when it split into “working mom” and “stay at home mom”, as trends in mothering practices changed)(but I’ll stop with the professorial stuff now…).

  3. Mary

    Jocelyn’s comment is great regarding the liguistic elements. To the etymology, I’ll add another dimension. If your political perspective is linear, i.e. if you define social liberal on an economic policy scale, the FC and SL terms are contradicting. But if you put economic policy on the x axis and social policy on the y axis you end up with 4 quandrants. The current parties represent two quandrants – Democrats advocate liberal spending along with liberal “moral” permissions, while Republicans represent conservative spending with greater limitations on behavior. The libertarian quandrant represents conservative spending policy with liberal permissions. In other words, limiting government control over taxation/spending and personal conduct. The last quadrant represents a more authoritarian structure that isn’t likely to gain favor in our nation.

  4. dude

    Fiscally-conservative = balance the dang budget, whatever it takes
    social-liberal = mind your own business about what people do with their lives, spend money on education, science, energy for tomorrow, separation of church and state.

    These don’t have to be separate and I suspect there are a lot of us out there. Sort of like libertarians, but we see a role for government other than maintaining a police force and firefighters.

  5. Charles E. Miller, Jr. BA, MAR

    I am a social conservative and a fiscal liberal. I would say that I am a Jack Kennedy or Harry Truman style of Democrat. I must admit that it is difficult for me to select a candidate for whom I can vote in November. I consider President Obama a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. In my opinion, he is an Eisenhower Republican. The question is now: what does that make Governor Romney? I would say that he is a Hoover Republican; he wishes to reverse the New Deal and make us all more power than we already are. Even though I am not happy with the President, I encourage all good Americans to vote for him.

  6. Brady Shackelford

    Mary’s quadrants best explains your question. I, personally, fall into the Libertarian quadrant.

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