The root of liberal is the word “liberate.” Some people are simply liberators; it’s in their blood. The root of conservative is “conserve.” Some people are conservers; it’s just who they are.
Any healthy society will make room for both kinds of people. We need liberators who say “yes” before the rest of us are ready to, thereby helping us tear down the fences which bar the way to a just society. We need conservers who say “wait a minute” and force us to think about our history and our actions before we make a mess out of things by chasing progress for the sake of progress."
Tim Suttle, The Truth About the Democratic Party
These are admittedly vague platitudes that everybody will interpret through the lens of their own political positions, and then weigh the countervailing statements contained therein accordingly. But it helps sometimes to remember that the impulse towards progress, and the impulse towards preservation of existing, reliable orders, are both real things and worth considering in equal measure. Progress achieved too hastily can lead to unintended consequences. Yet old orders must sometimes give way as society develops and old, reliable hierarchies cease to be touchstones of stability, but rather becomes beacons of oppression. To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes:
It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past.
Both impulses serve us well. Knowing which fences we ought to keep or tear down, of course, is the essence of political discourse; a dialectic that will exist as long as humans breathe.