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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

March 06, 2005
Proud To Be A Liberal

I'm a liberal and I'm proud of it.

'Progressive' is a nice, shiny, new word and I don't have anything against it or what people calling themselves 'progressives' believe in, but if you're going to draw a line in the sand, draw it in the right place.

I was toying with the term 'progressive' myself. It has a nice sound to it. But I've decided...well, no. I like to think I'm progressive in a lot of my thinking, but the bottom line is I'm a liberal and it's one of the things I'm, proudest of.

It shows I have a certain amount of intelligence. A lot of common sense. A value for people. A concern for the future, not only of our species but of every species on the planet. That I understand that our future and the future of the Amazon rain forests are closely entwined. That I understand that the individual needs protection against the weight of corporate interests. It shows that I understand that, in the end, it's the people who matter.

Liberal is a good word with a proud history. If you want to fight, start by taking back the right to identify yourself in your own words. Start by telling the truth about who you are.

We're told that academia is largely liberal. We're told that the press is largely liberal. (Well, that's not true in the corporate sense, but it's true in terms of the personal beliefs of most journalists.)

Well, duh.

I've written that blog entry five dozen times and then deleted it because I couldn't get the words right. Avedon Carol has provided us with a great entry on the subject. Not the one I would have written, but better in many ways, and she covers the specific point that has always stood out for me.

I have never understood why this should be a criticism of the media, anymore than it makes sense that this is a negative trait of academe; if the people who are best educated and most aware of what is going on are more liberal, maybe that's because you have to be ignorant to swallow conservatism.

Precisely.

(Note here that I'm not talking about the popular definition of "conservatism" and the one many of our fellow citizens use to lull themselves to sleep at night. I'm not talking about your grandfather's conservatism; the one based on fiscal responsibility and the government getting out of the way to let the little guy forge ahead. If that brand of conservatism ever really existed in Washington, it disappeared a long time ago. No, I'm talking about actual conservatism as it exists today. But that's not what I'm here to discuss.)

I think that both Current Events and History are interpretable. That is, you can take the facts that are known, put them though any lens of bias you possess, and prove almost anything.

If you separate the bias from the events, if you simply state facts and dates, well, the history of Conservatism in this country isn't (brace yourselves) entirely evil. In fact, it's been a necessary check on the sometimes catastrophically liberal nature of our country.

But that was then and that was that conservatism, which bears little resemblance to the radical conservatism that holds sway in Washington today.

One days, old-style conservatives are going to wake up and realize their party has been hijacked by the wingnuts. But, that's their problem.

For us, the key is kicking out the cowards and career political animals, making it clear that anyone who is afraid to be a liberal has no business pretending to lead the party of liberalism.

And by not being afraid to take back the name. While we weren't looking, or we weren't believing our eyes, Right wingnuts managed to make "liberal" into a bad word, even convincing a lot of 'the little people' that the same liberalism that founded this country was an evil and a danger to be avoided.

I don't want to get down in the muck with the wingnuts. I don't want to prove we can name-call and lie and cheat the same as they can. We have to be better than that. Goodness knows, we have a platform of accomplishments to run on that will make the Right foam at the mouth. So why don't we use it?

Since the organizers of the Democratic Party seem to be leading the "Afraid To Be A Liberal" campaign these days, we'll have to go another way. There are a number of grass-roots organizations who can raise money. They could air an ad, giving the real explanation of the 'evils' of liberalism.

This arrived in my in-box a while back. I'm not sure where it originated, but I've been thinking about it ever since.

JOE REPUBLICAN

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of Joe's medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. the air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.

Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so the can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

After work this evening, Joe plans to visit his father at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

Joe is happy to see his father, who is now retired and lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.

Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have.

Liberalism. Define it. Own it. Advertise it.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:16 PM


Comments

"I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."

- John Stuart Mill

Posted by: Hal at March 6, 2005 05:02 PM

Heeheehee.

Posted by: Anne at March 7, 2005 10:59 AM

Lovely. Thanks.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 7, 2005 01:32 PM

Thank you.

Posted by: Anne at March 8, 2005 06:58 AM

Wow- how did things ever get done when conservatives were around?

Hmm.. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

You mean the Glass-Steagall Act(s)..yes, Senator Glass, Democrat from VA, who was one of the most influential members of the (virginia constitutional) convention, which imposed a poll tax and a literacy test in order to disenfranchise African Americans...so I think the author meant "racist", not godless.

Hmm..Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Well, Fannie-Mae is in the business of creating a secondary national market for mortgages..so perhaps the author meant about expanding home ownership..of course, although established in 1938, FM as a creator of a secondary market for mortgages didn't occur until after legislation in 1970 signed by (gasp) Richard Nixon...which is about the same time (1972) that the govt created Sallie Mae and shortly after Nixon signed the 1970 Clean Air Act (what was Nixon thinking?)


Not sure why Joe is so critical of the government - odds are he is public sector -

In 2004, workers in the public sector had a union membership rate more
than four times that of private-sector employees. At 36.4 percent, the
unionization rate for government workers was down slightly from 37.2 percent a year earlier. The rate for private industry workers, at 7.9
percent in 2004, was about half what it had been in 1983

and where he lives

The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.4 million) and New York (2.0 million). About half (7.8 million) of the 15.5 million union members in the U.S. lived in six states (California, New York, Michigan,
Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), although these states accounted for just over one-third of wage and salary employment nationally

Ok- just can't let you think about it without tossing in a thought grenade..I'm sure there is some Republican writing the same about Jane Liberal..or writing how some liberal taxed everything Joe Republican did during his day..


I have never understood why this should be a criticism of the media, anymore than it makes sense that this is a negative trait of academe; if the people who are best educated and most aware of what is going on are more liberal, maybe that's because you have to be ignorant to swallow conservatism..

Well, as one who has been in academe and has multiple entries in that education box in the resume, I still don't assume having all those degrees equals "best educated" or means "most aware of what is going on'....

Posted by: Col Steve at March 9, 2005 01:22 AM