Mark,I think both liberals and conservatives want to keep power in check but focus on different groups. Typically conservatives worry about the government (except the parts that use guns, for some reason) and unions, while liberals worry about big business and the potential aristocracy. At their worst you could say both sides simply want to increase their own power and worry about the other guy's power.
I liked the 65 word version - but the line about "power must be held in check no matter in what form it takes" sounds rather conservative. Doesn't creating more and more government programs and regulations give more power to the greatest concentration of power in the world? In fact, I can't say I disagree with any of it.
Actually, I'd be curious to know which part of American Prospect's 'conservatism's elevator pitch' you disagree with?
I tend to come in at a liberal libertarian point of view, all concentrated power must be kept in check. My big grief with most libertarians is they don't seem to worry about non-governmental actors infringing on the liberties of others. As I've said before, monopolies are anti-capitalistic. Inheritance tax is necessary to prevent the formation of an aristocracy. The reason I tend to worry less about government then other parties is we already have elections and built in checks and balances. However, with Bush in office I've become far more worried about governmental power; so much so it's actually altered my philosophy somewhat. The fact we didn't vote out an obviously incompetent government really weakened my faith in democracy.
I must say, though, I'm not sure my statement really applies to all liberals. One of the hard parts of defining liberalism is we each have our own point of view. Some would put environmentalism first, others helping the poor, and still others would focus on labor. I tend to focus on social liberty. But it always comes back to protecting the little guy from the big guy, I guess.
The American Prospect's 'conservatism's elevator pitch' was "we believe in freedom and liberty, and we're for low taxes, less government, traditional values, and a strong national defense." To me low taxes and less government are red herrings, I believe in efficient government and good government. For example, is social security big government and high taxes? Perhaps from one perspective, but the system is extremely efficient and fair. It works. I'm closer to the conservatives on defense (though Iraq was just plain stupid), but given we spend more on defense then the rest of the world combined, there is plenty of room for negotiation.