Political Chiasmi

A chiasmus is a figure of speech in which two or more clauses reverse structures to show crossing parallelism. “The elements of simple chiasmus are often labelled in the form A B B A, where the letters correspond to grammar, words, or meaning. For example John F. Kennedy said “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Here are twenty-five chiasmi that describe some differences between Liberals and Conservatives.

Liberals remember the Founding Fathers as agnostic revolutionaries who sought freedom from English oppression.  Conservatives remember the Founding Fathers as Christian businessmen who sought freedom from English taxation.

Liberals want the government to help people (e.g., welfare, school loans, public transit, and consumer protection) but want the freedom to make individual choices.  Conservatives want people to help themselves but want the government to control individual choices (e.g., abortion, the right-to-die, marriage, and sexual orientation).

Liberals believe that affirmative action is necessary to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities.  Conservatives believe that everyone has equal opportunities so affirmative action is unnecessary.

Liberals want to provide everyone with a uniform public education. Conservatives want to provide choice in education through vouchers to private schools.

Liberals oppose the death penalty but support allowing women to have abortions.  Conservatives oppose allowing women to have abortions but support the death penalty.

Liberals believe the best defense against violent crime is for no one to have guns.  Conservatives believe the best defense against violent crime is for everyone to have guns.

Liberals believe that civil liberties should not be compromised for the sake of security.  Conservatives believe that security should not be compromised to preserve civil liberties.

Liberals believe they can deter terrorism with diplomacy.  Conservatives believe they can deter terrorism with terrorism.

Liberals want a diverse, multicultural society with a path to citizenship for immigrants. Conservatives want a homogeneous society with English as the official language and strong enforcement against illegal immigrants.

Liberals believe the focus of our foreign policy should be human interests.  Conservatives believe the focus of our foreign policy should be corporate interests.

Liberals believe that business should be regulated so it is a benefit to society.  Conservatives believe that business is a benefit to society so it should not be regulated.

Liberals believe that unions and government regulations are needed to protect workers from unfair business practices. Conservatives believe that businesses must be protected from unfair union activities and government regulations

Liberals believe the economy is driven by consumers and spreads to business and governments. Conservatives believe the economy is driven by business and trickles down to consumers and governments.

Liberals believe entrepreneurs succeed with the help of the government. Conservatives believe entrepreneurs succeed despite the interference of the government.

Liberals believe the wealthy should do more to help the lower classes. Conservatives believe the lower classes should do more to help themselves.

Liberals believe that the environmental needs to be protected, even if there may be some adverse economic impact.  Conservatives believe that the economy needs to be protected, even if there may be some adverse environmental impact.

Liberals believe in man-made climate change and reject Intelligent Design. Conservatives believe in Intelligent Design and reject man-made climate change.

Liberals believe fossil fuels are not sustainable and want to explore renewable energy sources (solar, wind). Conservatives believe renewable energy sources are not economically viable and want to explore for fossil fuels.

Liberals believe that being moral and charitable doesn’t require religion.  Conservatives believe that religion makes a person moral and charitable.

Liberals believe that religion should not interfere with government.  Conservatives believe that government should not interfere with religion.

Liberals want to expand Social Security and invest in infrastructure improvement to stimulate the economy. Conservatives want to cut Social Security and institute tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

Liberals believe individuals should be taxed on the basis of their ability-to-pay.  Conservatives believe individuals should be taxed equally.

Liberals are poor at winning elections but good at governing.  Conservatives are good at winning elections but poor at governing.

Liberals govern by change, and only fear fear itself.  Conservatives govern by fear, and fear change itself.

Liberals believe the Courts are conservative, Congress is dysfunctional, and the media isn’t doing their job.  Conservatives believe the Courts are liberal, Congress is dysfunctional, and the media isn’t doing their job.

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