The 1980s Los Angeles talk show host Dr. Toni Grant often told couples who were arguing, "Do you want to be LOVED, or do you want to be RIGHT?" Her point was that in the micro world of human interaction, in the long run of a marriage, it is much more constructive to be loved by your spouse than to prove a point to be right, resulting in your better-half being angry about your insistence and gloating.
In the macro world of business, politics and public policy, it’s often more practical, effective, fair, and ultimately better for society (and in effect, the world) to make hard decisions that may seem unpopular or heartless. Hard choices often mean making decisions that in the short run may seem harsh, unfair, unpopular, mean, and insensitive. In the galaxy of Star Trek, the great philosopher Spock once said, as he sacrificed his life so that all on the Starship Enterprise would live, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
"Life is complex." Spoc did not say that. Yogi Berra did not say that. Jesus Christ did not say that. But your mother said that. Your grandfather said that. Liberals and Conservatives say that. For all of their complexities and difficult dilemmas, one of the primary forces behind modern day liberalism, and modern day conservatives, is a key distinction.
Liberals (i.e. most Democrats) tend to make policy based on “feelings." It's about what feels good, doing the right thing so no feelings get hurt, i.e., no one is poor, no one suffers. It's about compassion, peace on earth, love to all men. Sounds good, right? Who could argue with that?
But as your mother told you, life is complex. Life is not fair. Conservatives (Republicans) tend to make policy on what is best for the majority in the long run. Their policies and positions may seem selfish and uncaring at the outset, but in general, are more focused on what will happen to the majority in the future. For instance, how will over-spending now effect the budget of the city or state? On national defense, should we continue negotiating with terrorists, and impose sanctions? We might avoid a military conflict now, but what will the effect of avoiding confrontation lead to later?
Feeling good, being liked, doing the right thing for the little guy and the minority are positions the left relishes and supports. Conservatives in turn also want to do the right thing, but their vision of the right thing is more for the general good of the whole, and not is as much the small minority. It’s the difference between the adults and the children. A mature adult knows when to say "no" because of the consequences in the long run. The child does not understand the benefit of “no” because they have not lived long enough, or are not mature enough to know that there are prices to pay for all actions. They want it all….NOW!
How many times did your father or mother say, “You can’t have it all”?