Some recent thoughts about why it is best to be neither Liberal nor Conservative:
The two-party division of political thought is both annoying and destructive to public discourse. America and the world seem to have permanently divided into Left and Right, and no longer even acknowledge the possibility of other approaches to the organization of society. Generally those who don't ally themselves with one side or another are either uninterested in, or disillusioned with politics.
Although "third parties" have existed, they tend to either be either more Left than the Democrats, more Right than the Republicans, or ideologically nebulous groups based around some leader's personality. Since the two ruling parties already have enough Liberalism, Conservativism, and personality cults to keep us bothered, it is no surprise these 3rd parties never take off.
This Right vs. Left division of civil discourse first struck me as absurd when I was voting in my first presidential election after college. I was tired of studying for my Anatomy finals and decided I would sit down and write out my political opinions and beliefs. I was surprised to find that I could neither be a Conservative or a Liberal. Neither party would want me. I'm no opinionless or compromising "centrist." I have strong beliefs, but they just don't fit into Left or Right molds. On my views on environment or poverty are so "left" people think I'm a socialist, but my views on abortion or constitutional interpretation are so "right" as to make me sound like Regan.
It was so liberating to find myself unaffiliated and step off of the Right/Left spectrum. It has opened my eyes to the absurdity of status quo American politics. Without an "us" to identify with, the us vs. them debates in congress and news shows begins to look more and more like the squabbling of self-important gangs of children. It often seems the Democrats and Republicans have little ideology at all but to thwart the agenda of the other party.
It is a bit lonely being partyless but still caring passionately that our society is run well. Everyone seems more interested in figuring out what side you are on than in listening to ideas. Generally Conservatives and Liberals need to recognize an idea as coming from the Left or Right before they are able to agree with or argue against it. Everyone wants to label you even if your political ideas don't fit the label. I find interesting that most of my conservative friends think me very liberal, and my liberal friends think me very conservative.
Conservativism and Liberalism are at least somewhat useful as they have developed two opposite theories on how society should be run, but it strikes me that neither approach is correct, and that there are plenty of better approaches to democracy we could create if we weren’t so obsesses with upholding these two outdated Enlightenment models.
So in a political world without options, I end up stuck choosing between the lesser of two evils. Voting on individual issues for Republicans or Democrats that I don't like or respect. Hopefully, someday we will have a better system free from the hegemony imposed on us by the two-party system. Until then I get to rant on my blog and hope that enough people will read this that someday we might have more choices.
This site is an excellent example of a movement that couldn't be classified as Liberal or Conservative: Seamless Garment I would gladly vote for a political party like this over any Democrat or Republican. It is a novel and consistent approach based on an ethic that most people could accept. I fear such movements could never get off the ground because we refuse to leave our worn-out political parties.