The liberal/conservative battle comes down to this: liberals value equality at the expense of freedom, and conservatives value freedom at the expense of equality. When it comes to those two, it's pretty clear that Mormonism values freedom above all else (Christ vs. Lucifer being the most charged example of this conflict), so that's one reason many people, especially in the church, speak of liberals in such negative terms.
While I think that may at one time have been an adequate simplification, I believe things are now more complex. The notable exceptions I am thinking about are issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and civil liberties in regards to national security. These are issues in which a more conservative view would seem to curtail freedoms, such as the freedom to marry whoever one wants regardless of sex, or the freedom to abort a pregnancy, or the freedom to make calls without the NSA listening in. Now I'm not saying that all those previously mentioned freedoms are good or should be granted, nonetheless they are freedoms.
Perhaps a better, or at least a different, way of defining the political spectrum is as follows. There are number of different areas in which politics regard, such as moral/social issues (abortion, gay marriage, religion), economic issues (policy, taxes, welfare), environmental issues (conservation, fossil fuel exploration, global warming), and educational issues (vouchers, funding, educational grants). There are also a general mindset or strategy in which to handle these issues. At risk of oversimplifying, let's say there are two. One is to have faith in the free market (and I'm not talking in the strictly economic sense here) and allow these issues to handle themselves. The other distrusts the free market and feels that these issues will not respond well unless we regulate them through government.
It's easy to at first say that the free market is championed by conservatives and regulation by liberals, and maybe there is truth to conservatives having a more friendly view of the free market, but I think it depends on the issue. While conservatives often advocate severely limiting or lifting government regulation when it comes to issues such as the environment, education, and economy, on the other hand they often advocate much regulation in the moral/social sector. The thought is that the environment can handle itself since it's already lasted this long, education would be better refined under the competitive pressures of the free market, and the economy is most efficient when generally deregulated. Social issues, however, should be regulated to preserve the morals of society.
Liberals on the other hand strongly push for deregulation in the moral/social sector, but feel that the environment, education, and economy require such regulation. The idea being that as persons it is our right to make our own moral and social decisions, which are largely viewed as only, or at least mostly, affecting ourselves. But there is a general distrust in the ability of the free market to preserve equality when it comes to the other issues. They fear that the almighty dollar does not care whether the environment is around for our children, whether quality education is available to all, and whether all have equal access to our inalienable rights.
So, while equality is certainly a crucial issue in defining the political spectrum, I feel like the dichotomy is more complex than Keith presented. However, to be fair, it is also much more complex than presented here. I have probably only jumped a level of complexity, still leaving many of the intricacies unaddressed. Comments? Who's next?