Conservatives point to traditional authority, God, Country, Leaders, Parents, etc, as a source for how we should behave. Last night I read an excellent point from Jared Diamond's book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail or Succeed":
The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs over adversity.
Conservatives look to the past as evidence for behaviour today. Since a certain set of rules led to a favourable outcome, a return to these old ways will solve a current problem. This was a 'light bulb' moment for me regarding dogmatic theists. They really are using evidence for support of their positions and really do believe that their assumptions are true. Asking people to 'accept god' is really asking people to accept the wisdom of the past that will fix a problem today. They don't necessarily understand why the old ways will work, but they believe it will.
Liberals, on the other hand, also argue from authority but, at first glance, it's not clear who the authority is. I believe the answer is everyone. Liberals want to solve problems by asking everyone to find their own answers. This is what leads liberals to an extreme form of tolerance where we are expected to view everyone's ideas on equal ground. Don't hurt anybody's feelings by telling them they are wrong; accept that maybe they are right and that your idea is no better than anyone else's. Let everyone be the master of their domain. Liberals are pointing to the future to fix problems by expecting each person to eventually develop a problem-solving system that will work for them.
These approaches are incompatible. Conservatives want someone to be in charge and liberals want everyone to be in charge. Ironically, Conservatives are in the better position because they have evidence from history on their side. Liberals only have 'hope' that people will find their way.
I see only one solution here. Abandon all arguments from authority. But with no one in charge, how do we make decisions? Instead of following what we think, or what other people tell us, we must use the most important tool mankind has ever devised: The Scientific Method.
We need to stop trusting what people say or what our 'gut' tells us. We need to apply the scientific method to lead us to useful answers. Conservatives need to understand that past success is not a guarantee of future success. Conditions change and a method that worked yesterday, may not apply even if the situation looks similar. Liberals need to stop assuming everyone has equal ideas. Some are just plain wrong and we need to confront those ideas head on.
Instead, let's use the scientific method to evaluate our options and find the best possible solutions, no matter who does the experiment.