Liberals (Democrats) vs Conservatives (Republicans)

A convergence of things has me musing about the differences between liberals/democrats and conservatives/republicans: there’s election day, of course; there was my participation in a clergy marriage/leadership retreat (and engagement of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory);… even my recent post on traditional versus contemporary (and my wish that we could find a centrist position that brings them together).

At first blush, a long-held generalization about liberals and conservatives was something I confided to only a few: “liberals think with their hearts, conservatives feel with their brains.”*** It comes across rather brusque if not superficial.

Still, it was not formulated or held without some grounds:

  • Liberals are often referred to as “bleeding hearts” (where “heart” is the seat of emotions and feelings)… and Bush’s reference to a “compassionate Conservative” seemed like an oxymoron to many
  • Liberals seemed to always resort to what Jesus, the Word of God, would have done (appealing to his love as an emotional impulse)… and conservatives seemed to always resort to what the Bible, as the Word of God, says (appealing to it’s truth as an objective reality to be discerned and obeyed)

More recently, though, there’s been other data/input to undergird my generalization—making me feel a little more justified in my position… and a little more willing to air it. First, there was my overhearing a quote from Churchill on the radio the other day: something along the lines that “any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.”

And then, there was my engagement of Myers-Briggs (MBTI) preferences. Election fervor had me wondering about Democrats vs Republicans—so much so that I did a little googling.

“Allen Hammer published several statistics about the political affiliations of each MBTI preference in Snapshots of the 16 Types. In his research, he found that: Republicans preferred INTJ, ENTJ, ESTJ, and ISTJ (the executive types). The ESTJs are more than twice as likely as the INFPs and INFJs to be Republicans. Democrats were typically NF or INFJ. In fact, those people with a preference for Feeling are more likely than other types to identify themselves as Democrats.” (

(For those not versed in Myers-Briggs, the third letter in each personality configuration refers to thinking (T) or feeling (F) as the primary mode of decision-making—so that Hammers stats verify that Republicans feel and Democrats think.)

Of course, the real issue is not whether my generalization is founded (or not) as much as it is, just one more time, our need to find a way to bring it all together – to find that precious synergy and synthesis: liberal and conservative, heart and mind, emotions and thoughts, truth and love, knowledge and vital piety, the mercy of Jesus with the uncompromised truth/law that Jesus declared and upheld, democrat and republican.

And here, I guess, I “hit the wall” of reality this side of Heaven: that forever, in this world, there will be liberals and conservatives who do not know the meaning of or way to crossing the aisle and meeting in the middle,… that the centrist position I hold dear and that stirs my heart is, no doubt, an impossibility on earth, another property of His Kingdom coming.


***of course, there are exceptions to this generalization… still, even as I recognize this and write this footnote, my mind drifts to talk radio and the plethora of conservative talk hosts and the demise of Al Franken (and radio USA… or whatever it was called): could it be that talk radio was made for thinkers…. even as movies and documentaries and moving images(Michael Moore) work best for feelers??

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