Sunday, October 1, 2006

What is a Liberal?

In a recent comment to one of my blog entries, a reader told me that my "liberalism" shone through my print, as if I was trying to hide this aspect of my political bent but he'd (I'm assuming a he although perhaps that's not right) caught me out and revealed me for what I really am.

But I've never tried to hide the fact of my liberal leanings. When I worked for the Sheriff's Department, I was often teased by mostly conservative cops as their "token liberal". In fact, I'd probably describe myself more as a progressive than a liberal but I won't dispute the liberal label.

Liberal politicians brought the American people such modern innovations as the 40-hour work week, holiday pay, sick leave, social security, Medicare, laws against child labor, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, collective bargaining, WIC, Head Start, housing subsidies for people too poor to afford a place to live and on and on. In this day, even old-time Republican politicians would be considered liberal. Teddy Roosevelt started the National Park Service, Richard Nixon created OSHA, George Bush Sr. gave us wetlands legislation.

If you hate all these things, then you truly are a modern ultra-conservative. If you hate all these things, then no doubt should you get laid off, you won't even apply to collect unemployment. If you hate all these things, you'll probably refuse to accept any over time pay if you work over 40 hours a week. If you hate all these things, mostly likely you wish you could send your kids to work down in the coal mine on their tenth birthday. You probably won't want to visit Yellowstone or Yosemite. I expect you'll only take your social security until your original contributions are paid back to you (which will be in the first few years) - but maybe not, since you probably figure the government cheated you out of all the interest you'd have collected if you'd been allowed to invest it for yourself - because we all know, don't we, that had you been left to your own devices, you'd have saved every penny of this money toward your retirement in some high-yield plan (and if anyone was stupid enough to not save or to invest in some company, like say, Enron) and lost it, then they deserve what they get and let them hie themselves off to the Poor Farm. If you hate all these things, you probably think they should dismantle the dust collectors in your factory because you're willing to take your chances with the good intentions of the corporate owners. If you hate all these things and your mother gets Alzheimers (or any other physical or mental disability), you're probably going to keep her home and pay for all her medications and take care of herself, because you certainly won't want the government to get its hands on her via Medicare.

If you are an ultra-conservative, you probably want to outlaw Roe v. Wade, which I can understand, even though I disagree with you, but you probably also want to do away with any assistance for the mothers and the babies that are born as a result. Let those Moms get out and work and pay for their own housing, transportation, child care, medical care and food. Because as an ultra-conservative, I'm sure you hate the "welfare state".

If you're an ultra-conservative, you are probably conflicted about states' rights (which used to be one of your principles) as in yes, you think states' should call their own shots when it comes to affirmative action but no, the feds should move in if states approve such travesties as medical marijuana or assisted suicide. You are all for states' rights if they legislate a ban on anything that smacks as rights for gays but totally against states' rights if they approve civil unions or gay marriage. So, it sort of comes down to whether a state agrees with you positions as to whether you believe they should have the right of self-determination, doesn't it?

If you are an ultra-conservative, then you probably thinking torturing people is fine and dandy, even before we determine whether the person to be tortured is innocent or guilty. No one that I've seen, not in person or on Fox, as ever explained how they reconcile their Christianity with their approval of torture. I am truly curious about how they think a conversation with Jesus on this subject would go.

So, yes, I'm a liberal, all right. And I consider being called Liberal, not a mark of shame, but a badge of honor.