If justification were needed for taking notice once again of the liberal-conservative distinction, it would be sufficient, I suppose, merely to observe that this division has been injected into the politics of Western nations for at least two centuries and, depending on the nature of one's criteria, perhaps longer.
The distinction between the two camps has not always been sharply drawn, of course, for both have been compelled, as a condition for survival, to hold important beliefs in common. Moreover, each has reversed itself on certain issues, such as government regulation of the economy, casting off old views in favor of beliefs previously cherished by the other. Competing for popular support in elections, and succeeding one another in office, the two camps have, of necessity, taken on many values in common, tempering their programs and adjusting their courses to the practical requirements of political contest. In a system like ours, where the parties have functioned less as ideological movements than as brokerage organizations hoping to attract majority support from almost every segment of the electorate, the distinction has tended to be dulled even further, until, at the actual scenes of daily political struggle, it has often faded entirely.