Today’s Conservative=Yesterday’s Liberal: Support the Physician’s Declaration of Independence

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On this Independence Day, we recognize a paradox: Today’s conservative is yesterday’s liberal. It’s a curious thing.

Many years ago, when I embarked on my study of political history and philosophy, I ran into the paradox of the terms “liberal” and “conservative,” noting that today’s definitions had been completely reversed.

In a recent Salt Lake Tribune online comment interchange between me-the conservative-and a liberal commenter, this is how it went down: Paul Rolly, Salt Lake Tribune political satirist, wrote a column in which he promoted me to the status of “Tea Party Goddess.” I was so flattered that I had to respond in the comment section and on my blog site:

Cherilyn Eagar: “I’ve been upgraded. As a conservative woman, it’s an honor coming from Paul.”

CharlesHistory: “How can anything conservative be a good thing? In the history of man, conservatives have always been on the wrong side of any conflict.”

Cherilyn Eagar: “Charles, it depends on what you are conserving. Historically, those that have been on the side of big, centralized government have typically been on the wrong side of the conflict, just as they are today.

“If your definition of conservative is the status quo, then I’m definitely not a conservative. But that’s why my blog site is dedicated to defining conservative. Many are confused because they haven’t been taught correctly.

“The Left and Right are the ends of a political continuum of tyranny on the Left (too much government) and anarchy on the Right (no government). I live at the center right – where the Founders placed themselves on that continuum. How about you?”

CharlesHistory: “Thank you for your reply. Conservative ideology is based on status quo, with a emphasis on limiting creative or critical thought. For example Texas conservative lawmakers passing a law that critical thinking can not be taught in public schools.

“When you talk about less government being your primary goal, then why do Utah conservative lawmakers concern themselves with so many morality laws. It would seem that those with liberal thoughts allow more freedoms and those with conservative ideas try to enforce their beliefs on to others.”

Cherilyn Eagar: “My point is that the status quo is BIG government. Using your definition, YOU are the conservative.”

And so on this Independence Day, we confront a paradox. In the USSR, the Communists/Marxists were considered the “conservatives.” Those that sought a free enterprise system were the “liberals.”

During the American Founding, those that wanted to remain under the overbearing, centrally-controlled mother country – Britain – were called the “conservatives.” But those that wanted a free and independent nation based on free enterprise were called the “liberals.”

So perhaps I should have branded this site “Defining Liberal” after all.

In honor of that first Fourth of July, please take a moment to read this Physician’s Declaration of Independence. Then forward this link to every doctor you know and ask them to sign the Declaration.

It’s time to spread some liberalism -er – conservatism – around.


  1. Ann - July 8, 2013

    I have been aware of this, Cherilyn, so what would we call ourselves? Constitutionalists?  At what point did our country stop being a Republic because isn’t that truly when the ‘liberal/conservative’ labels should have changed? But they didn’t because education deceived Americans into believing that a democracy is a good thing! I’m always trying to explain to people that principle. Apathy is in full force on the Tytler Cycle and just a pinch from the Dependency stage!!  Sad for us!   hugs, Ann

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