Who Is a Conservative or Liberal?

I'm confused. Who is a conservative and who is a liberal, or the new PC term, a "progressive?"

Words have meanings but you'd never know that from the news media's coverage of the primaries. Conservative and Republican, liberal and Democratic are used synonymously in most of the media, but the reality seems to be quite different when you examine the positions of the candidates.

Conservative, as used by Edmund Burke and the Republican party, used to stand for balanced budgets, minimally intrusive government and respect for the rights of individuals. Liberal, as used by John Locke and the Democratic party, meant using the power of the government to protect the community and especially the powerless from abuses.

Now we have Republican candidates dedicated to expanding the powers of government even if it means evading the courts and hiding information from the public. Do we want a candidate to be president who wants to use the power of the government to impose his morality on citizens -- even if means invading the sanctity of their homes and especially their bedrooms? Do we want candidates who want to use the power of the government to subsidize the very richest Americans and the multinational corporations? Do we want to elect tax cutters whose proposals will substantially increase the deficit? Why does the media call these candidates "conservative?"

On the other hand, we have two Democratic presidential candidates who are usually called liberal or progressive, even though they are both publicly committed to lowering the deficit, helping the middle class, protecting individual privacy and opening the government to public scrutiny. These are far more conservative positions in Burkean terms than the Republic positions.

Of course, if conservative is defined as one dedicated to the welfare of the rich and powerful, the media are correct -- to an extent. The Republicans are more blatant about protecting the rich and powerful individuals and multinational corporations. But the Democratic party isn't far behind, feeding from the same trough of campaign contributors.

The media have a responsibility to inform, not confuse people. If they are going to continue to use the terms conservative and liberal, the least they can do is define what they mean.