This is a good thread, and I think it's important to get this stuff out there. Especially with the ridiculous thread you brought up about
conservatives not using logic. The partisanship on this site has become... sickening over the past year or so. (Perhaps its always like this around
election time, I wasn't around in 2004 so I can't comment.)
Now, if I may leave these here:
Conservatism refers to various political and social philosophies that support tradition and the status quo.
Liberalism is a broad class of political philosophies that considers individual liberty and equality to be the most important political goals.
These are liberalism and conservatism at their most basic levels. Yes, a good political theorists could write hundreds of theses on what it actually
means to be a conservative or liberal, but at the core these are the definitions of the two philosophies.
A liberal might describe the two ideals as:
Stagnation (conservatism) vs. Progression (liberalism)
A conservative might describe them as:
Morality (conservatism) vs. Immorality (liberalism)
And that is simply because both sides have their skewed views about the other.
An extremely politically biased person will refer to the two ideals as:
Illogical, unthinking morons (insert opposing party here) vs. Geniuses (my party).
Thus, it is very easy to spot a partisan hack when you see one, as they will blatantly deride any member of the opposite ideology (or that they
perceive as belonging to the opposite ideology), simply because they are brainwashed into doing so.
Now, I think it would be exceptionally difficult to find a tried and true conservative, or a tried and true liberal. That is because we are all human,
we all have opinions, and we don't usually tend to form those opinions based strictly upon political ideologies. In actuality, most of us form our
opinions based on our life experience, our upbringing, and our environment.
To answer some of your questions in the OP:
If I am a Conservative, can I still think Gays should be allowed in Military?
Of course you can, although that is not a conservative position. Traditionally, homosexuals are not allowed in the military. Therefore, the
conservative position would be to maintain that status quo. Allowing homosexuals to serve openly is a liberal position.
If I am a Liberal, can I still think this Healthcare Bill is a ridiculous political attempt and not a true and honest endeavour?
This one is a bit more tricky. The healthcare bill is certainly a liberal endeavor. It aims to change the current status of healthcare in the US, so
that fact is undeniable.
However, many liberals disagree with this healthcare plan, because, as you succinctly stated, it is not an honest endeavor.
Therefore, I would posit that:
If you are against the healthcare bill because you want to keep insurance exactly the way it is, then you are holding the conservative position.
If you are against the healthcare bill because you want a better attempt at changing healthcare, then you are holding the liberal position.
So, as you can see, we are all a mix of liberal and conservative. Some things we want changed, some things we want to keep the same. I don't think
there is a single person here who believes in revoking the Bill of Rights, for example. We all hold the conservative position that these rights should
be maintained as the status quo for our nation and its people. (Now, whether or not those rights actually are
being maintained is another
discussion for another thread entirely.