Liberals always on offense, conservatives always on defense

Lately I’ve been pondering: The biggest disadvantage for conservatives (among many other things) is that they are almost always on defense, while liberals are almost always on offense.

Taking same-sex marriage as an example: Most liberals support it, many conservatives oppose it. But even if conservatives “won” - that is, overturning or banning gay marriage - they technically haven’t won anything. They would just be returning things to the prior status quo - where marriage was one man one woman. Whereas liberals had everything to gain - victory means SSM is passed - and nothing to lose - defeat just means the status quo stays the same.

This is an immense drawback for conservatives, because it means that the best outcome they can attain is simply “return things back to what was previously normal” while the worst outcome they can suffer is big, unwanted change. Furthermore, even if liberals “lose,” they can still try again an unlimited number of times until they finally do win. If same-sex marriage failed once, then try, try again until it does pass. It doesn’t matter if SSM fails 99 times, if it succeeds the 100th time, it passes.

Same-sex marriage is just one example, of course (I don’t mean the thread to focus on that only.) Take the removal of Confederate statues - if liberals win, they attain something - the statues are gone. But if conservatives win, they attain nothing - all that they “win” is that the statues get to remain standing, as before. This dynamic plays out in a hundred different political issues - liberals are on offense and have much to gain, while conservatives are on defense and have nothing to gain.

Conservatives can’t possibly win the political football game if the opposing team always has possession and the only thing conservatives can do is keep them out of the end zone, while scoring nothing themselves.

Conservatives can stop getting in the way of progress and then they won’t lose so often.

Conservatives will always lose in the medium to long term. ALWAYS. That is a historical fact. All they can do is futilely try to postpone the inevitable until after they are dead and in the arms of Jebus.

Isn’t that what conservatism means, retaining the status quo?

Conservatives think that things are already fine, or that they were fine in the 1950s, so we should try to turn back the clock.

The only thing conservatives ever actively try to achieve is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

I disagree with this. For example, Abortion rights. Currently conservatives are on the offense, liberals are on the defense. I would consider banning a woman’s right to choose a “big, unwanted change.” I think it all depends on the angle you look at it.

Yeah, I’m having a bit of dissonance w/ the OP’s use of the terms offense and defense. One could say liberals are more passive/defensive, about going along with changing mores, science, etc. Whereas conservatives are more aggressive/offensive about artificially resisting same.

Also, in terms of “tactics”, this liberal’s impression (which I’m sure many conservatives will disagree with) is that conservatives are more aggressive in pushing the envelope of what is acceptable behavior. Both in campaigning and in governing. Just one example, is it defensive or offensive to REFUSE to even consider a sitting president’s SCt nominations?

It’s because for the most part, conservatives are on the wrong side of history. Conservatives are on defense, because that is their default position.

Does dismantling decades-old regulatory bodies count as being ‘on offense’? Conservatives have been working hard to destroy venerable institutions like the EPA and SEC (they can’t quite get rid of them, but can massively cut their ability to do anything). And what about laws like the Civil Rights act and voting rights in general, where conservatives work hard to suppress minority votes? That certainly seems like going on the offense. Or teaching religion as science, like with ‘creationism’ in schools.

I don’t think they lost in the medium term with regards to gay rights, sexual freedom in general, and the War on Drugs in the wake of AIDS and the “crack epidemic”. In some ways homophobia was increased in a way that didn’t meaningfully change for 30 years, which seems pretty medium-term to me. Ditto for the imposition of harsher sentences on illegal substances but I haven’t done enough research to see if they re-imposed their viewpoint in the 80s or simply successfully stemmed the tide for 40 years, which, again, seems medium-term to me.

That’s pretty much it- at its best, it’s a school of thought that tends to value the status quo and question the necessity of change. And at times, roll back poorly thought out or poorly implemented changes. But it also doesn’t oppose necessary change. Nor does it seek to roll back changes for their own sake.

The problem is that over time, the conservative mindset that basically challenged the idea of change for change’s sake, and acted as a necessary brake against irresponsible spending and unneeded disruption, has become a reactionary force that has decided that in general, government is bad, taxes are bad, and that things were hunky-dory in the 1950s and before, and everything since is hedonistic, godless crap that we should get rid of.

I mean, there’s a lot of value in the “classic” mindset. But there’s not much in the contemporary one. Putting the idea of rolling back taxes and reducing the size of government ahead of providing services to both special needs and gifted & talented students is an example we’ve seen in Texas. It’s patently idiotic, but I guess there are rural clowns who think that it’s better to cut funding to those groups in the name of small government and lower taxes. Penny stupid and pound foolish.

So yeah… by design they’re always reacting in that they value the status quo or some mythical past status quo (that never quite existed like they think).

Maybe the OP isn’t living in the same timeline as I am, because in this one, conservatives have been on offense in a ton of areas for the past four decades. Undermining labor rights, increasing corporations’ power, eliminating restrictions on money in politics, shredding the ‘safety net,’ rolling back taxation of the rich and creation of a class of the super-rich that in the 1970s we’d thought was something we’d left in a bygone age, gutting antitrust law (Teddy Roosevelt must be rolling in his grave), and putting 200 right-wing judges and Justices on the Federal courts just in the past 3.5 years in order to keep gutting laws and regulations that might constrain the rich and the big corporations and protect the rest of us from them.

That’s one hell of a sustained offense.

Sure, LBGT rights and pulling down Confederate statues. No corporate CEO, no billionaires, see either as a threat to their power, even if they oppose them.

They’ll do that once you show them that new ideas are perforce better than old ones. You’ll have an uphill battle.

“Stick my dick in a toaster oven? Awesome! I’ve never heard that before!”

Regarding the last 3.5 years and what Trump has done, what I think we’re seeing is a rise to power of reactionary rather than conservative forces. They want to Make America Great Again (according to their view of progress) rather than Keep America Great. That’s why the few remaining conservatives of principle are siding with Biden this time, and why some of them even sided with Clinton in 2016.

Let’s stretch the analogy of a football game, albeit with three sides. The Bushes for conservatism, Clintons for progressivism, and Trumps for reactionaries. What the Bushes would prefer is a low scoring game. The Trumps, on the other hand, don’t care about keeping the score low, they are just tired of being the on the losing side going on almost a century now to the beginning of FDRs term. By US standards team Trump has been losing ground since then, even during the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Jr. years. Now that they have the ball they are trying to run up the score in the other direction. What has happened is that with the Trump side in power, the Bush side has realized that many of the people they thought were Bush people were actually Trump people who were just waiting for the right leader to show up.

Recently read an article concerning the current administration’s efforts to lessen all manner of civil service/union protections for government workers.

Impresses this longtime fed as awfully offensive - in both meanings of the word.

I think it’s wrong to think of this in terms of offense and defense. Society shouldn’t be a battleground. I think the better way to think about this is that liberals want change and conservatives want things to stay the same.

If you want to look for who has the advantage, I’d say conservatives. Because they want to keep things the way they are, they’ve already achieved their goal at the start of any debate. Liberals are the ones who have to do something. Think of it as a football game in which one team has to score a touchdown in order to win and the other team wins if the first team doesn’t score that touchdown.

Did you forget the tax bill you scored in the first quarter of the game we’re in now? Or more tax cuts and Iraq in SB 43?

Whichever side has the White House is always on defense psychologically, that’s how it works.

Beyond that, any time you block something it’s a point for you, you’re just not keeping score correctly. Occasionally you guys roll some shit back and cause some misery. You should be counting those as 2 scores.

That might have been true during the Bush Jr. years, but I think things have changed. Now we’re dealing with reactionaries rather than conservatives. Conservatives might want to back to the Eisenhower or Reagan days because they were the “good old days” rather than any particular attributes of Eisenhower or Reagan. The reactionaries, on the other hand, seem to want to go back to the Woodrow Wilson days, not because the were the “good old days” but because Wilson was a racist asshole who knew how to put minorities in their place and that’s what they want.

ETA. Meant as a reply to Little Nemo’s post. I’m still getting the hang of this version of the board.

Much of what the left calls progress is actually retrogression. Practically everything the left demands leads to continual expansion of state power, and too often progressives talk as though all individuals are the property of the state (which means, in their minds, that the lives of others may be disposed of as the state sees fit).

This is a good explanation of why they’ve resorted to court-packing, obstructionism, gerrymandering, and voter suppression.

Of course it’s an uphill battle to attack policies that voters have already chosen in favor of policies that they rejected. Not really seeing any stunning insights here.

No, it’s because progress often requires those with the most power to enforce the progress, with the threat of force of violence if necessary. This isn’t a new thing either. It goes back to Lincoln and the Civil War. If you study that episode in our history, you will see which side is the side that wants to treat people like property. Here’s a hint. It’s not the progressives.