They rally around intellectual abstractions of fairness, facts, truth and universal ideals. They tend to be inclusive of anyone who shows tolerance of others.
They rally around ego-tribe impulses of self, family and friends, religion, race, local culture and region in general. They tend to fear and hate those unlike themselves and thus can easily be driven to violence by crafty demagogues.
A Mixed Lot
Now these two at variance examples of liberal and conservative are more or less their pure form versions. Many folks are an odd blend of liberal and conservative characteristics and thinking patterns, which I suppose confuses the heck out of the pure forms.
There is also a third type of bonder, the super extremist liberal and conservative. These are the types that, say, spend thirty years as a staunch conservative and, then, something shakes up their lives and they suddenly become a dedicated liberal, or the other way round — the Saul to Paul phenomena. The once conservative Arianna Huffington comes to mind here. When her husband was a conservative politician she was a conservative pundit. But following her divorce she switched sides, though she did manage to retain some of her conservative friends.
Hitler always saw the communist extremist community as an excellent fishing ground for national socialist (NAZI) converts. In fact it can be said that the greatest psychological difference is not between the extreme right and left, but rather between the two extremes and the moderate center. The extremes have a sort of grudging respect for each other while they often loath what they see as wishy-washy moderates.
Liberals And Conservatives Into Combat
If one is interested in avoiding war then one wants to see liberals in charge of the government. But if war has broken out and you find yourself in a foxhole you better hope that the guys to your right and left are conservatives. They are the more natural killing machines.
When a conservative came to Vietnam in1967, he would have had little trouble understanding whom the enemy was suppose to be. The little guys in black pajamas, Godless communists vermin who were out to kill him were of a different culture, race, and spoke a strange language in a high, singsong voice. Hey if a few villages were burned down and some civilians got wasted, so what, all wars experience collateral damage. Whatever happened, he was doing his patriotic duty — no sweat.
For the liberal who thought he was coming to Vietnam to defend democracy around the world, the issue was not so clear-cut. He likely soon came to the realization that most Vietnamese were either innocent civilians or folks just trying to defend their country from foreign invaders — merely an extension of fighting off the French and Japanese aggressors before them. When these disillusioned warriors returned home they most likely joined the ranks of the antiwar protesters.
Then there are the ways that bonded liberals and conservatives react to Donald Trump. Since the Donald panders to conservative tribal impulses and craps all over liberal ideals and truths, there is no mystery as to why he is such a divider.
Because liberal abstractions of truth and American ideals always take second place to the ego-tribal impulses of conservatives, the Donald is free to say anything he pleases to his conservative base. As long as he makes it know that he supports their crude biases they don’t care a wit. Indeed, to Trump’s followers it’s not so much what he does, but rather the perception of who he seems to favors that counts most.
Liberals on the other hand see Trump as a man who has no interest in American ideals or truths, a cheap con man that’s in bed with our Russian archenemies, an existential threat to our freedoms and democracy.
In any event, liberals and conservatives have very different ways of bonding to things and people, and no amount of trying to see the other person’s point of view is ever going to change that hard reality.