Everybody has a checklist. If you're lucky, you know what's on yours; if you're introspective, maybe you try to find out. Liberal or conservative in the context you seem to be using them look like checklist items, though perhaps I mistake your context. Usually when people ask this sort of question about checklists, it's to disapprove of them.
I take it, then, that disapproval of placing people in categories is one of your checklist items? I like people who disapprove of categories, they're so hard to pin down.
Such stubborn mavericks.
I'm sorry, TomMark. The words simply mean so many different things to different people, I don't see how you can generalize. What Liberal means today is very different than what it used to mean, I think.
In the 60's to call somebody a Liberal who was under 30 was an insult because it suggested that they didn't understand the oppression in the world well enough to take a properly left wing stance. A Liberal was too much like the Right Wing power brokers.
Today, to call somebody a Liberal means that they—in terms that the general society seems to have swallowed, at least—are too Left Wing to be considered human. They should be spoke of in the same breath with Lenin, Marx and Stalin. The actual word and the meaning of it have gotten obscured beyond recognition. These days people have taken to calling themselves Progressives, though I think that's something else indeed. Personally.
Conservatives originally were people who were people very much like environmentalists. Conservatives started the national park system to preserve wild-lands from the encroachment of big business. Conservative reformers set up some of the original anti-trust legislation to protect the resources of the little people. It used to mean something very different. Within a short period of time, the movement was taken over by business interests, but there were always people who were interested in the freedom of the little guy who were prominent in the movement. It's just that the language and the principles began to change.
There are still conservatives who have serious commitments to social programs. I have an uncle, for example, who donated a substantial amount in low cost services over many years to a State on the East coast and was proud to have done it. He could have done much better by putting more time into his private work. It's simply that there aren't enough of these folks.
It probably some down to a matter of what kind of light you shed as you go through life. This would be a tough idea to sell to lots of people, and you may be one of them. Given the wrong mood, I know I can be. But I think I'd rather be a guy who sheds a decent light on the world where he can, and if it matters to somebody beyond that that I'm a Liberal, that's sort of beside the point.