“The voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.” -- John Green, "The Fault in Our Stars"

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Sometimes I Think I'm a Liberal ...

     I believe in helping the poor, the weak, the unlucky, the unrepresented. I think immigration is good for America. I believe in equal rights, and I believe we all have a responsibility to others, whether it's paying our fair share of taxes, treating others with kindness and respect, being careful about our impact on the environment. I guess that makes me a liberal.

     So why is it that I find liberals so annoying? Liberal politicians are sanctimonious. Liberal newscasters try to make us feel guilty. Liberal academics look down their noses at us.

     Meanwhile, many liberals -- many of the liberals I know anyway -- preach integration and equal access but live in wealthy, segregated suburbs with exclusionary zoning codes. They rail against a border wall, but live behind walls of their own in gated communities. They preach environmentalism, but drive SUVs and jet around the world visiting ecotourism hot spots before these spots are ruined by the very people who are going there.

     That's why sometimes I think I'm actually not a liberal, but a conservative. After all, I believe in law and order. I'm certainly not in favor of defunding police. But wait . . . if you're a law-and-order conservative, doesn't it make sense to put a lid on all the guns circulating around the country? I don't want the criminals, the mentally ill, and all the impulsive and angry Americans to be so well-armed that they pose a threat to us every time we visit Chicago or Baltimore or set foot on a school campus.

     I also believe in environmentalism and conservation. Conservation. It's right there in the word . . .  conservative! 

     I believe in personal responsibility. People should take care of themselves as best they can, and not be looking for free handouts from the government or anyone else. But that means higher estate taxes, because that's just a free handout from someone else, and higher taxes on investments and unearned income, because -- there again, it's right there in the word unearned. You didn't earn it so why should you be able to keep it all? It should be shared to support the social structures that allow us all to thrive in America -- schools, roads, parks, childcare, a decent social safety net.

     It also means that people should be responsible for their own health and have medical insurance -- rather than palming off their medical bills on hardworking Americans who have insurance through their employment. Therefore we should have a system that everyone can access -- through the government if necessary -- and also be required to join in and pay up . . . or pay up if they can, but if not at least people are not flooding emergency rooms and costing taxpayers billions of extra dollars. In other words, Medicare for all, or some such equivalent. So is Medicare for all conservative, or liberal? I'm not sure I know.

     I also believe in freedom. Freedom of speech, for sure ("cancel culture" is more than annoying, it's dangerous), but more particularly, the freedom to live out our lives the way we want, as long as we're not hurting anyone else. I live in Pennsylvania which is famous for the Amish. They have an unusual lifestyle. But they have the freedom in America to thrive and prosper in the way they see fit. So can, and should, Mormons, Muslims, Blacks, Hispanics, Hasidic Jews, men, women, gays, lesbians, the non-binary . . . and aging white dudes like myself.

     May we all be treated with respect, without harassment or discrimination, and be able to go to any restaurant we want, sit wherever we want, live wherever we want, and know that our children and grandchildren will be able to go to a decent school, breathe clean air, drink potable water, and not be burdened by the mountains of debt, or the ancient prejudices, left behind by their parents.

25 comments:

gigi-hawaii said...

There's something beneficial about having a benevolent dictator calling the shots. Things will get done without the bickering that a democracy is famous for. For example, a dictator could close all gun stores and only the police and military would be allowed to carry weapons. Gigi Hawaii

BonnieB said...

Very well said

ApacheDug said...

This is probably one of the best things I've read in a long time. Actually just read it again, enjoyed it that much. Of course everything you say makes perfect sense Tom, and I agree with every word. And frankly, this is why I prefer (if I have to wear a label) to be called Democrat over Liberal. You hear that word and you automatically assume extremism now. Same with Conservatives, if there's any real ones left their voices have been drowned out by the cult of Trump. I just hope that in time, more voices like your own will be listened to and we'll be headed in the right direction again. PS. I just read Gigi Hawaii's comment--hey, she makes a good case!

Ed said...

I enjoyed reading this and I suspect that we are similar and hard to pin down politically nor do we want to be. I identify with aspects of both parties but prefer to be labeled a moderate than a democrat or republican. If I had a dream, it would be that political parties were abolished and we could just be Americans again.

Red said...

I sometimes wonder if the labeling gets us off the agenda. Why worry about labeling when there's an obvious job to be done. There are many ways to do the same thing. Labeling gives us something to fight about.

RetirementCoffeeShop said...

Great post. Today's labels of liberal and conservative have come to mean many things and to some have no room in between. I like Ed's comment of just being American's again rather than split into two parties. Politicians should run on their beliefs and ideas rather than on their affiliation with Trump or Obama or whoever. We need people to do what's best for the people and the country.

Miss Merry said...

A few years ago I was asked, by our local Democratic party, to fill a term for a vacant seat in city government. I felt my beliefs were too much in the middle of both parties to be a representative of either party. I turned down the position. Now most of my community considers me a raging liberal. None of my views or values have changed. I am not sure which liberals you think are making you feel guilty.

DUTA said...

The messy state in which the world is in, is solid proof that the concepts of democracy, liberalism, and so on, have failed miserably.The world is heading towards chaos. May God help us!

Arkansas Patti said...

Labeling seems to lock us into a category which we may only partially fit. I started out Independent but when I wasn't able to vote in primaries, chose Democrat. Still think Independently however.

Wisewebwoman said...

The words liberal and conservative have been destroyed. Liberal was fairly leftist, socialist, conservative was of "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" and "stop sucking on the government teat" with capitalism and greed running amok. There has to be a happy medium.
We are not civilized if we don't properly take care of the neediest amongst us. Whatever the cause.
And I'm talking Canada also. A huge percentage of our population is living waaaay below the official poverty line which leads to crime, addiction, suicide and desperate unhappiness with the repercussions on following generations. I see it up close and personal.
We have to do better as countries "living the dream" where the dream is only for those who can afford it and have the means to get there.
XO
WWW

Cathy said...

Thank you for such a thoughtful post! I think, hope, most of us are much more moderate than our politicians.

Fred said...

Two comments. First the idea of an effective benevolent dictator is fantasy. Benevolence will eventually degrade to malevolence. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When it is time to replace the dictator, you will end up with either a military coup or a revolution. Democracy is messy but is by far the best choice.
Second is the idea of Medicare for all. I certainly recognize the need to revamp the delivery and cost of healthcare, but this idea is not likely to work. Medicare pays doctors and hospitals less than they can survive on in our current system. The only way they make it is to shift the cost over to private healthcare insurance. Thats right, employer-based healthcare is subsidizing Medicare. None of us has ever paid in anywhere near enough to support the costs of Medicare. If we do Medicare for all and allow the existing pricing to immediately affect all healthcare providers, there won't be a rural hospital left in America. Many of the ones in cities will also shutdown. If you increase the prices Medicare pays to the level the docs and hospitals will need, we will go bankrupt. We will have done nothing to decrease costs just increased access for all. To solve our cost issues at some point there will have to be negotiations for drugs and services. We will also need a national set of guidelines for appropriate healthcare delivery. You cannot give an 85 yr old with a stroke and an extensive list of other issues hundreds of thousands of dollars of care so they can survive a few more months. Some will call it a death panel. I call it common sense.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

I used to be a Republican. Now I'm a Democrat. But I still have the same beliefs that I did when I first registered to vote. When I was a Republican it was a party that believed in conservation and civil rights. That's not a reflection of the Republican party anymore. As someone who is agnostic, I don't believe that religion should be in politics at all. As someone who believes in fair representation, I also believe that it's time to get rid of lobbyists because these non-elected people/businesses are the ones that are currently running our country.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I would say you are a centrist, which is a good place to be smack in the middle.

Janette said...

Such worry about labels….you are an US citizen.You should be voting for people who have your core beliefs. That takes work.
Gigi is a more common approach and one we have lived with for the last thirty years. Not a dictator, but an oligarchy of elite. I did not believe that until living in the DC area for five years and getting involved with civil servant politics. The elite wear both Republican or Democrat hats. Some (a very few) are elected, most are not. They prop up war. Gotta make a buck. They pretend to care.
They dictate who drives and who flies. Somehow their carbon footprint is ok but mine is not.
They tell us our issues are who we hate…sexual identity, sex, color, religion…to keep us occupied while they “ make our world better”. They got to tell us that an illness was so terrifying we could not see our parents or properly raise children. They use undocumented as servants “who would watch our kids or pick our crops?” Not visas but weird documentation.
There are over 600 people still being held for Jan. 6 without trial or hearing. Even serial murders get a hearing.
I find it terrifying. Oligarchs can do that.
I think Trump was a last gasp for many- someone who was not owned by the political elite. I didn’t agree with him many times, but the elite hated him. OK ready to be canceled.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Why does there have to be a political affiliation attached? I love to good values you espoused. Let's just all care more about others than we do ourselves!
Then take another glance at the Canadian health care system. It really works!

Tom said...

I hesitated to post this because I feared that it was just me spouting off -- and that I might get some nasty replies. So thank you all for thoughtful comments. I think perhaps we are more representative of Americans than our representatives in Congress.

Carol Ann Cassara said...

It is an imperfect..and inconsistent...world. I can't ever say I'm conservative because as Judge Luttig said, those who call themselves that are destroying our democracy. And he was a well known "conservative". I just don't think those labels fit today.
Also 'defunding the police' is not what it sounds like. It is a stupid term that does not describe the intent but has been seized upon by the Faux crew and so people don't understand its true meaning. Which is to supply police with mental health resources they can call on for help so they are not having to deal with stuff they are not trained to deal with. And don't want to deal with.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your post! Most people I know and have worked with over the years, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, creed, OR political persuasion are much more alike than different. All tend to want similar outcomes for their families and conditions in our nation, even if they support different means of attaining these goals/dreams. It’s troubling, then, when people are increasingly wearing their party-affiliation like fans of a sports team, hell-bent on vilifying and defeating the “other” side. When folks are so blinded by the red versus blue narrative that they accept without question the defensive and oft-irrational proclamations of the talking heads on either side, the threads of our common humanity and American spirit are unraveled.

Alana said...

Both your post and your commenters are so thoughtful and respectful. If only we were all like that. Too many Americans are living in fear right now. Some fear that their group is being targeted (for a variety of reasons). Some are afraid of going hungry or going without transportation if their car breaks down one more time. Others have the fear of going to the doctor for a problem because of the resulting bills so they wait and wait until there is a serious problem that's not easily fixed. It isn't just liberals. It isn't just conservatives. Neither label means what it meant even 20 years ago. Many Americans are in the same bind but think the "other side" is their enemy, and history teaches that desperation never ends well.

Jack said...

I've favored a multi-party parliamentary form of government for a long time. That way the green party and other small parties would have a voice. Most Americans are closer together than the press and politicians would have us believe.

Your estate tax proposal is a bad idea. If a poor black parent wants to leave their primary residence to their children currently they can. Intergenerational wealth is the biggest difference between the races. We are on the cusp of the greatest transfer of wealth between generations. We should make it easier for the working class and middle income to transfer wealth not harder.

Italy has a single payer system and when Covid hit they did not hospitalize the elderly. Wouldn't universal healthcare be unearned income for those who receive it free under your tax plan?

I've been a liberal Democrat most of my life now I am an Independent. My principals haven't changed the party has. I still oppose war, the military industrial complex and the C.I.A.

Linda Myers said...

Wow! What a great post, Tom! I'm pretty much where you are in my values. What is even more impressive is the thoughtful, respectful comments your readers are giving. I think we have way more in common than we do "in different". My hope is that people will learn to listen to each other and find common ground. That's how good solutions can happen.


Pat S. said...

Hey Tom --

One of your best posts because it came from a frustrated heart. I feel exactly the same way these days - it seems almost everything important in our lives is mired in conflict. In my 70+ years I have never seen such discontent in our country and an unwillingness to compromise and get along. Moreover, there are no signs that things will get better.
Glad you didn't beat around the bush on how you feel. I'm tired of people not acknowledging how things have changed so negatively over the last 15-20 years. I think all of us want an America that is proud, fair and optimistic and yet also mindful of the work that must be done to protect the freedoms that our founders delineated so many years ago.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! I agree with so many of your other commenters about how you expressed some of the doubt and hesitation many of us have in regards to the political state of our country these days. I too dislike being labeled yet it is so easy to pick a side and defend it to the death because the alternative seems way too complicated. Just HOW do we find a middle way or a way that takes all the many, many factors into account? And let's face us, many of us prefer a simple, black and white answer so we tend to grab the easiest answer that makes sense in the moment. (and ignore all the other facts that are present but not as personally relevant to us in the moment?) And like you stated so well, it is so VERY complex. So yes, I agree with most of your points and am also registered as independent of political party, but I often vote and swing very left in response to the out-and-out astonishment I have of many of the votes and actions I see happening from those on the conservative right. So I get called crazy liberal on more than one occasion. Not sure of the answer but traveling here in Europe has made it so very easy to distance myself from all the drama and just enjoy the privilege of being alive. (but wait? Does that make me one of "those" liberals???) ~Kathy

Tom said...

Well said. We really need to invest in our poorest neighborhoods and communities- even if it takes decades. Providing help to raise non-privileged children is key to breaking a negative cycle. Think Boys & Girls clubs in every neighborhood.