Americans have often been described as a pragmatic people. It is the results that count, and practical approaches to reach them that are admired. American politics can be described as a pragmatic attempt to achieve our desired and feared principles. Chief among these are liberty and equality. We desire liberty. Yet we fear it. We desire equality. But we fear it as well. The balance of desire and fear at any given time drives our political conflicts and also distinguishes conservatism from liberalism.