The way I see it both the left and the right have the same starting point, but have drawn out this starting point differently, creating distinct political cultures.
The starting point, roughly, is that the highest good is a freedom to be self-made.
On the liberal right, that has been interpreted as meaning that people should be self-reliant rather than dependent on the state, and that individuals are largely self-made in the market. If you want individuals to be self-made, then forming an identity or acting as part of an inherited ethnic group will seem too collectivist: the right liberal ideal is that you leave your ethnicity at the door (or that you hold it as a private good, like a personal taste, that is not asserted publicly).
A final aspect of a right-liberal culture is that it privileges immigrants over natives. It is immigrants who do the most to be self-made, by undertaking a journey (sometimes a risky journey) to seek economic opportunities in another country. Here's another quote from Ronald Reagan, this time form his inauguration speech:
I ask you to trust that American spirit which knows no ethnic, religious, social, political, regional or economic boundaries; the spirit that burned with zeal in the hearts of millions of immigrants from every corner of the earth who came here in search of freedom.
And at the end of this speech:
Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe free? Jews and Christians enduring persecution behind the Iron Curtain; the boat people of Southeast Asia, Cuba, and of Haiti; the victims of drought and famine in Africa, the freedom fighters of Afghanistan, and our own countrymen held in savage captivity.
It is assumed by right-liberals that these people who immigrate want to be self-made and self-reliant individuals in the market too - that it is the freedom to be these things that is being sought.
So it's a shock to a right-liberal culture if, instead, immigrants act as a bloc along ethnic lines and if they are dependent on state welfare.
That's the background to a recent column on immigration by Ann Coulter. Coulter wants to increase immigration controls, but for particular reasons. She points out that Hispanic immigrants are much more likely to be dependent on state welfare:
Immigrant households with the highest rate of government assistance are from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (tied at 75 percent), based on the latest available data from 2009. Immigrant households least likely to be on any welfare program are from the United Kingdom (7 percent).
She argues that taking a tougher stance on illegal immigration won't alienate the best Hispanics from the Republican Party because the best Hispanics came to America for "freedom and opportunity" (i.e. to give up being Hispanics in order to be self-made in the market):
The truth is, a tough stance on illegal immigration can only help Romney, not only with the vast majority of Americans, but with any Latino voters who would ever possibly consider voting Republican in the first place.
As Romney said in one of the early debates, Republicans appeal to Latinos "by telling them what they know in their heart, which is they or their ancestors did not come here for a handout. If they came here for a handout, they'd be voting for Democrats. They came here for opportunity and freedom. And that's what we represent."
Coulter then notes that a larger than expected number of Hispanics supported several measures against illegal immigration:
These are our Latinos -- the ones, as Romney said, who came here for opportunity and freedom. Any race-mongering, welfare-collecting, ethnic-identity rabble-rousers are voting for the Democrat.
In the right-liberal world, having an ethnic identity is as much of a blot as collecting welfare. But that then means that the mainstream of America is also not allowed to identify itself as a distinct people with an ethnic identity. And if the mainstream has no identity of its own to preserve, then there's much less reason to be opposed to an open borders philosophy of "the more the merrier".
To recap: right-liberalism begins with the assumption that being self-made is what matters. Therefore, when the liberal right talks about freedom and opportunity it has a specific meaning, namely the freedom and opportunity to be self-made, particularly in the market. Similarly, when the liberal right invokes patriotism, it is not understood in traditional terms, as loyalty to a larger group of people you naturally identify with on the basis of a shared ancestry, history, language and culture. Patriotism means something else: a commitment to a particular kind of society based on the freedom and opportunity to be self-made.
Right-liberalism is not traditionalism. It can have a conservative tinge at times, as it is permitted within a right-liberal culture to invoke patriotism (albeit of the limited kind described above); as a belief in a self-reliant individualism can lead to an emphasis on personal responsibility; and as the desire for a limited state can encourage a belief in the supportive role of family as an alternative (though even here there are difficulties: if the higher good is to be self-made in the market, then what is the basis of a woman's commitment to family life?)
In Australia right-liberalism hasn't really held its ground as a rank-and-file culture. Perhaps the closest we get are the progress associations and service clubs in regional towns. In general, right liberalism exists more as a political current within the Liberal Party, the Murdoch press and certain university departments.
But in the U.S. right liberalism seems to have deeper roots within society. This means that traditionalists in America need to be particularly adept at identifying right liberalism and understanding its limitations.