Unfortunately, nobody on here has truly captured the meaning of "liberal." Liberal inherently implies desiring change or reform of the current system, whatever that system may be. Conservative
is obviously the opposite; it describes something or someone who wants to conserve
the status quo and reject change.
Some people get confused by the notion that the United States differs from the rest of the world in terms of its usage of liberal and conservative, but it does not. The reason it does not is because the economic system in place at the foundation of the US was based in a free market
, not a restricted one. Therefore, in the US, fiscally conservative implies wanting to conserve what was originally present, a.k.a free market capitalism
. Liberal economics in the US obviously steer away from that since, as it was already pointed out, liberal implies change.
In most other countries of the world, liberal economics implies gradually freeing markets more (becoming more capitalistic), instead of less. To some people (see previous posters), this is opposite the system we use in the US, but IT IS NOT. Liberal economics, a.k.a changing the economic system, in other countries means becoming more capitalistic because they originated from oppressive economic systems.
In summary, liberal means advocating change and conservative means advocating conservation. Those definitions apply EVERYWHERE. They may appear opposite in different places, but that's only because the "status quo," or the situations, in those places differ.
person 1: If JFK ran for office today, then he'd probably run with a conservative platform.
person 2: You're absolutely right, because what was liberal in the 1960s is conservative today. That's because the situations have changed, but the terminology hasn't.