I try to stick to the meaning of the words on the page, but I believe that structure and diction also provide meaning that the words may or may not directly convey. As such, this paragraph has two very different meanings for me.

It has been my observation and I have said for years that: MOST liberals and conservatives share the same ideals. The difference being that conservatives recognize that we do not live in an ideal world and the liberals choose to act as if we do.

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    This is unfortunately too subjective to answer in SE's format (if you think of EL&U like English class, we are more "language" than "literature"). That said, I personally don't perceive any particularly prominent subtexts; certainly none at odds with the surface meaning of the words. – Dan Bron Nov 25 '15 at 17:18
  • Is there a way to break down a short paragraph to analyze or discuss meaning that is not subjective - outside of the literal meaning of the words used? – whipdancer Nov 25 '15 at 18:18
  • No way I can think of, particularly in this case explicitly asking for a subtext to contrast with the face value. – Dan Bron Nov 25 '15 at 18:19

There is a clear bias toward conservatives here, in the claim that they "recognize" something something presented as fact (i.e., that "we do not live in an ideal world") and that liberals are mere pretenders (who "choose to act as if we do," the "as if" clearly meaning that, in fact, we do not). However, this bias is rather plainly stated. Ostensibly, the author of this sentence is presenting him/herself as unbiased and attempting to suggest that liberals and conservatives have enough in common to work together, so perhaps this represents the "meaning" as opposed to the "connotation" referred to in the headline, but, again, I don't believe any reading between the lines is necessary here to see what is truly intended--it is there for all to see. Connotation generally means "insinuation" or "undercurrent," and the conservative bias here is more than insinuated.

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