Editor Patrick Richardson's Sunday, January 17, caricatures of "liberals" and "conservatives" beg response.

Long before he were born, I was – and remain – a "conservative". The current idiom is "paleo-conservative", as opposed to "neo-conservative". I assure you modern so-called "conservatives" bear little relationship to those of my youth, typified by "Rockefeller Republicans".

In the formulation of adherents to Faux Noise nonsense, "conservatives" embody all that is laudable, and "liberals" embrace all that is unholy and despicable – consistent with his editorial expression.

The truth of the matter is that both "conservatives" and "liberals" hold complex views. Many of both claim to be Christians, and at least some Christians in each political camp accept that it is a New Testament requirement to "love thy neighbor as thyself", and to institute social mechanisms to uplift and succor the needy, poor and ill, not the rich and powerful.

One of the most pernicious and destructive claims of "conservatives" is that each of us should be a "rugged individualist" and "stand on our own two feet". Those claims lead to others, especially that individuals should not expect or accept assistance of any kind from "government".

Except for the strikingly few of us who actually raise their own food, construct their shelter and clothes from materials foraged or raised, fashion all of their tools from natural materials, provide their own education and medical care, and do not use money, all of us, liberal and conservative, use the power of family, community and yes, "government", to sustain ourselves.

The actual major difference between "conservative" and "liberal" politics is how each believes the enormous power of "government" should be used. "Conservatives" rail against welfare for the marginalized, while supporting enormous taxpayer-supplied welfare for the rich and powerful, particularly corporate agriculture and criminal financial enterprises.

"Liberals" seek to use the power of government to lessen what they see as unacceptable inequities in the body politic – but are no strangers themselves to taxpayer-funded welfare for favored powerful interests.

The reality is that neither "conservative" nor "liberal" politicians, and their respective power structures, dislike large and powerful government. "Conservatives", however, almost uniformly lie about it. They claim to want smaller, less powerful government. "Liberals" openly embrace large and powerful government, ostensibly to control powerful special interests and provide for the common weal.

The self-sufficient citizen, and particularly business, is a myth. There is not, and never has been in this country, a "free market", entirely devoid of "government" assistance or interference. Neither has there ever been, or is there now, "free trade". It is the very essence of "conservative government" to aid the rich and powerful, in the fantasy belief that these entities will voluntarily uplift the populace beyond their own need for labor. It is the essence of "liberal government" to constrain excesses of the rich and powerful, while nonetheless encouraging the creative, smart and industrious to prosper above average levels – but not on the backs of the weak and powerless.

So it boils down to what one believes the purpose of "government" is, and critically, what factual outcomes from particular policies are. Unfortunately, the majority of Kansas voters seem uninterested in the factual and demonstrable disastrous effects of laws and policies enacted by Republican demagogues who promote proven failures and fantasies.

The first rule of holes: When you're in one, stop digging. What passes for "conservatism" nowadays doesn't understand this. All Kansas – and to some degree, the whole nation – is poorer for this pursuit of fantasy by Republican true believers in an irrational alternate reality. So I remain a paleo-conservative, what you'd call a "liberal".