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Since my professional career started as a word bender I have more than a passing interest in the etymological evolution of some words and how their meanings have changed over time.

Two words bandied about daily in the political arena appear to have mutated into meanings beyond their origins. They are “liberal” (used by Republicans to identify “tax and spend” Democrats) and “conservative” (embraced by the Republicans).

Let’s check some dictionary definitions.

Conservative: Marked by moderation or caution. You say, “That’s me!” Really? Does the Republican Party today meet these two criteria? Liberal: Theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint. You say, “That’s me!” Really? You want to eliminate all restrictions on your freedom to do as you please? So do criminals.

Just which of the major parties is conservative and which is liberal? Let’s look at the economic approach.

President Trump’s administration (Republican for those who don’t know) wants to remove all Democrat curbs on financial speculation, price fixing and price pumping of stocks and worthless derivatives that were believed to be at the bottom of the 2008 recession, brought on by issuing poorly secured loans in the housing market and secondary speculations in various scams floated by Wall Street speculators.

The Democrats believed unfettered poor financial practices are a danger to our economy and should be regulated. The Republicans now in power think as far as the financial sector is concerned, anything goes. Turn them loose. Which party is conservative, and which is liberal?

Do you enjoy visiting our beautiful wilderness areas and natural wonders? The current administration believes vast areas should be opened up for uninhibited grazing, strip mining, oil drilling, “fracking” for oil and continued pollution of streams and rivers vital to many areas of our country. Pretty liberal, isn’t it? The Democrats had placed restrictions on such uses to protect the environment and enjoyment by succeeding generations. If the word conservatism is taken apart, isn’t “conserve” the first word that pops out? Gosh! The Democrats are conservatives!

The same goes for Democrat restrictions on offshore and Arctic oil drilling. The Republicans want to open up these areas when the need for such is dissipating in favor of electric vehicles and solar and wind generation. We already have all the oil we need for some time to come. Removing all restrictions is a liberal move, right? Then there is the much-needed graduated income tax whereby all people support the treasury according to how much they lose if the country fails. Taxes are anathema to the Republicans who just passed the most blatant tax breaks for super-rich people and companies ever conceived. Now, to me, the people favored by this tax structure are the very people who should welcome having their wealth defended by our military, not only here but abroad. Being so generous to people and firms who don’t need the wealth is pretty liberal, isn’t it?

My wife recently had the cost of one of her medications jump more than 500 percent. People have been suffering from this situation for years, but to our liberal Republicans the more the pharmaceutical companies make, the more that is available to finance political campaigns.

Isn’t that a liberal attitude to take toward the people reaping billions of dollars from the sick and elderly? And what about these campaign contributions? The liberal attitude is they all are honorable and above-board, even those contributions from “shadow” corporations established by the Russians and Chinese. The Republicans won’t put restrictions on these funds. Pretty liberal attitude, isn’t it?

I have an idea. The next election all the voters who think they are conservatives should vote Democrat and all who think they are liberal should vote Republican. Or, create and vote for a new third party. A few months ago, I suggested a Common Sense Party, but that’s not catchy enough. Change the name to the Preservative Party, dedicated to the ideals of our Founding Fathers and to preserving our country for our progeny. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Stanley Smith is a former Cedar Falls City Council member.

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