Friday, December 18, 2009

Proud to be a Liberal

Kudos to my bro Chris for sharing this link with me. I share most of the following beliefs with Mr. McKinley as to why I am a liberal. Enjoy...and then comment and tell me why I am going to hell. This will be fun...

Proud To Be Liberal - Why Liberal values are American values
By Brian Elroy McKinley

"You are a contentious person....and probably a Liberal," started a recent response to an article I published on abortion rights.
Contentious? Possibly.

Liberal? Absolutely.

Seems these days Conservatives have convinced themselves, and some of the American public, that being a Liberal is akin to being a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. While this may be a great smear tactic for an election year, to believe such a notion proves that the believer is uneducated in the fundamentals of the American political system. Our nation was founded on Liberalism. Embodied in the Declaration of Independence are its three tenets: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." The very term, itself, is taken from the same root as the second of these precepts. To be a Liberal is to defend the freedom - the Liberty - of all people who make up our great nation. To be a Liberal is to trust individuals and families to run their own lives as they see fit. To be a Liberal is to create a nation where anyone can excel if they are willing to do the work.

In order to understand the true nature of Liberalism, and to dispel the misconceptions fomented by those whose agenda is counter to our freedom, I will detail the tenets of Liberal thought and dispel the misconceptions so often put forth by Conservative rhetoric.

Liberalism is "Life." It is freedom from physical dangers that can kill or disable us. The Liberal believes it is a nation's job to protect its citizens from physical harm, whether from external sources, such as hostile nations, or internal ones, like crime, disease, or hunger. Without the solid ground of physical wellbeing, our nation and its citizens cannot enjoy the benefits of being free. Liberals believe in a strong military, well suited to defend the nation. Liberals believe in good laws, hard-working police, and a just legal system to protect its citizens from crime. Liberals believe in affordable health care for everyone, to keep our people strong. And Liberals believe in the availability of food and shelter for its needy, not as a hand out but as a reasonable step in moving all Americans toward self-reliance and the freedom that comes with it.

Liberalism is "Liberty." It is the freedom to do as your conscience dictates without impeding another's rights. Fleeing oppression in mother Europe, our founders established a nation where personal belief and self-determination are protected, not persecuted, where hard work is rewarded, not demanded, and where each person is bestowed with the ability to better his or her life because of citizenship, not class. Liberals believe in freedom of speech to protect us from political oppression. Liberals believe in sound regulations to protect us from economic oppression. Liberals believe in just laws to protect us from social oppression. And Liberals believe in quality education to protect us from the oppression of ignorance.

Liberalism is "The Pursuit of Happiness." It is the freedom to create an environment where the individual can excel. What is freedom if it cannot be used to better our lives? A truly free society must be one where its members can rise above their limitations and expand their futures. We call it "The American Dream," and it's alive and well in the heart of the Liberal. Liberals believe in equal opportunities for all to rise above our means. Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our education levels. Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our social status. And Liberals believe each and every family should have an equal opportunity to make this world better for their children.

Based on these tenets, we can see that Liberalism is not the monster it's made out to be by the opposition. It is pro individual and pro family. It is pro community and pro country. Liberalism is, by its very definition, the heart and soul of what it means to be an American. It stands against tyranny of any kind, whether international or domestic. It works to remove abuse and fight crime. And it strives to eliminate the idea of a wasted life by not wasting resources and opportunities.

By this time someone might ask, "if that is a Liberal, then what is a Conservative?"

Liberals and Conservatives received their names for good reasons. Just as Liberals get their label by standing for Liberty, Conservatives get their label from the desire to "conserve" a style of living. They, too, claim they are fighting to conserve our personal rights and our economic opportunities, but they do it with a different ideal than the Liberal. The term they use for the difference is "values." Values are norms or codes by which people live their lives. While most Americans share some common values, such as the right to own property and the right to protect our families, we also have many divergent values with which we raise our children. So if we try to impose values into the political framework of the nation, we are forced to ask, "whose values?" And in the search for such absolutes, we must also ask, "which generation's values?"

As the nation ages and new generations take over leadership, the values of its population change. Where once a woman was valued for how well she cooked, cleaned and entertained, today's women are gaining recognition that they offer as much, if not more, to the work force than men. Where once African Americans were forced to live as second-class citizens, now they have a legal status equal to that of whites, even if we still have a ways to go in actual practice. Changing values brings confusing times for many - especially for those who believe that America was better with an older set of values. These people want to "conserve" a style of American living they believe once existed, what they call, "traditional family values." They want to conserve the system that they believe made America wealthy and strong. Unfortunately that also means they want to force all of us to live according to their values.

Conservatives don't really fight for our rights - they fight for what they think our rights should be - putting limits on our freedom of speech in order to "conserve" an older, more traditional norm of what should be said. Conservatives don't really fight for our family values - they fight for what they believe our family values should be - putting limits on our behavior, even behavior between consenting adults, in order to "conserve" an older, more traditional view of acceptable personal activity. Conservatives don't really fight for our income - they fight for little or no regulations - putting limits on our ability to be treated fairly by large companies, who if left without restriction, can form monopolies that choke out competition and drive down wages.

Conservatives are willing to curb our freedom of speech if it clashes with their interpretation of "traditional" values, values from an older time where woman were in domestic servitude to men, where child abuse, sexual abuse, wife abuse, and homosexuality were all kept locked in closets, where minorities were second-class citizens and discrimination was free from incrimination, and where the inability to plan a family's growth meant an explosion of mouths to feed - a population explosion that today threatens to bankrupt our nation's retirement funds. The Conservative position, therefore, is inherently contradictory. You cannot be for legislating away freedom in the name of "family values" and also claim you are protecting individual and family rights.

As new generations have placed their own values into the laws that govern our land, Conservatives have sought to fight back by limiting the size and power of the government. Conservatives are willing to give away the very power needed to protect our liberties in the work place. Their idea of a smaller, less-intrusive government means a return to the days where business decisions and profits were more important than clean air and clean water, where a business could abuse its employees without incrimination, and where minorities and women could be passed over for jobs or paid less then white males for the same jobs. Again the Conservative position is at odds with itself. You cannot claim you are fighting for families at the same time that you allow the family bread winner to be overworked and underpaid and allow neighborhoods to be overrun by non-regulated big business. The Conservative would effectively shift power away from the people, who can elect public officials to fight for their rights, and into the hands of private businesses, who need not answer to the public when making decisions that affect us all.

Because Liberals fight to protect every citizen from having other people's values imposed on them, Conservatives like to label Liberals as being evil. The following list shows what Conservatives like to say against Liberals, and then goes on to show why such assertions are false:

Conservatives say that Liberals are anti-family.
However . . .

Conservatives want to define what your family should be
Whereas . . .
Liberals put you in charge of your family
Liberals support your right to define what your family will be
Liberals fight for your family's rights against economic and political oppression

Conservatives say that Liberals are anti-business.
However . . .

Conservatives are pro-money, but that often translates into monopolies, which hurt small business and competition, which hurts us all
Whereas . . .
Liberals protect small businesses by regulating the larger ones and by breaking up monopolies
Liberals protect workers in order to create a healthy workforce that will help businesses grow

Conservatives say that Liberals are anti-religion.
However . . .

Conservatives are often for one dominant religion, and are, therefore, against others
Whereas . . .
Liberals support complete freedom of religion and from religion so that all citizen are free to choose the manner in which faith is a part of their lives
Liberals strive to keep government completely out of a family's religious choices

Conservatives say that Liberals are anti-freedom.
However . . .

Conservatives want to stop homosexuals, stop abortions, stop the women's movement, and stop freedom of expression through the use of censorship
Whereas . . .
Liberals leave it up to the parents to teach such values to their children
Liberals believe each person or family should be free to choose how to behave as long as it does not interfere with another's rights

Conservatives say that Liberals are anti-morality.
However . . .

Conservatives are for one specific kind of morality
Whereas . . .
Liberals are for the morality of free choice, where each person or family decides their own values
Liberals want the government to protect our freedom to choose what is important to us rather than to impose the laws and codes of another's morality

Conservatives say that Liberals are anti-military.
However . . .

Conservatives see the military as a means to impose their values and standards on others
Whereas . . .
Liberals see the military as a vital protection of our freedoms and our liberties, giving us a space in which to pursue happiness
Liberalism's Stance on Specific Issues

With the desire to promote Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness as the central motivation, the Liberal always defends these tenets when deciding how to stand on a particular issue. The following will show why Liberals often take the stance they do:

Abortion/Contraception - Liberty means the freedom to control your body, your reproductive system, and your future.

Affirmative Action - Liberty means having fair opportunities for those in society who are discriminated against.

Education - Liberty means the freedom to learn in order to build a better future for yourself, your family, your community, and your country.

Environment - Liberty means the fair use of our nation's natural resources for all citizens. Where possible, without unreasonable restriction to private enterprise, the government should strive to protect our natural environment so all can enjoy its bounty.

Gun Control - Liberty means the freedom to protect yourself, your family, and your property, with deadly force if necessary. People have a right to keep guns for such a purpose. People also have a right to use guns in sporting activities and in the event that citizens should be called on to form a citizen militia. We do not, however, have a right to own all the latest people-killing technology. The People, through the government, can restrict some of the more deadly weapons being sold today.

Health - Liberty means the freedom to overcome physical limitations in order to better yourself, your family, your community, and your country.

Regulations - Liberty means the freedom to live and work in an environment that best allows individuals and families to grow in the pursuit of happiness. Bad air, bad water, bad living and working conditions only stifle that liberty.

Sexuality - Liberty means the freedom to share mutual intimate affection with the person of your choice, regardless of gender.

Substance Abuse - Liberty means the freedom to decide what you put in your body. Unless the use of a substance is a danger to unwilling victims, its use should be kept legal. In situations where use of a substance may or may not effect bystanders, regulations - such as in the case with tobacco - should be enacted to protect the bystander without denying the individual's choice to use the substance. Smoking and non-smoking areas in public places are a prime example of this.

Taxation - Liberty is found within a system. That system does not happen by itself. It is created and supported by us, the People, and it is funded by our labors. The money we pay in taxes is what allows us to thrive in Liberty and work in fairness. Reasonable taxation is necessary because without it, many of us would find it difficult to get paid even a fraction of what we are paid now. And those who benefit more from the system should expect to pay more to help support it.

Women's/Minority Rights - Liberty means the freedom to be valued and judged on talent and work, not on the physical characteristics over which we have no control.

In closing let me state that freedom sometimes brings situations we don't like. Some people will choose to use their freedom to engage in activities that go against our personal values. It is a great temptation to use our democratic rights to try and enshrine our own personal values - whether they come from religious or humanistic origins - in the laws of the nation. The inherent problem with this is that when Liberty is restrained by any one group's values, even if that group represents the majority of the population at the time, it can easily be changed from one generation to the next, meaning that you could be forced to live under someone else's values as easily as you might force someone to live under yours.

The only true defense of our values is the defense of our liberties.

If you don't want to be forced to live under a foreign set of values, don't force others to live under yours. Instead, fight for the freedom to believe as you want while others believe as they want. Freedom of choice, as long as it does not infringe on another's rights, is the foundation upon which this nation was built. Liberalism is the ideology that strives to defend that freedom for everyone. And for that reason it pleases me to no end to state that I am proud to be Liberal.


Scott said...

Wow TJ, very long post. Just a couple issues.

First based on his definition of a liberal, no Democrat president in the last 30 years measures up. I know you have said repeatedly that liberalism and the Democrat party are two different things, but until reading your blog, I didn't realize how differently you saw them.

The real problem I had with his "Life, Liberty and Pursuit of happiness" logic is that many of those who profess liberalism as their ideology are gleeful at the prospect of protecting your life by a string of intrusive nanny state laws that directly infringe on your personal liberty and freedom. It is self professed liberals who seek to regulate what people are allowed to eat and drink.

Finally he starts his whole article by claiming to seek to dispel misconceptions about liberalism, but then concludes by entirely mis-characterizing conservatism. He resents all liberals being painted as Communists, but has no problem painting all conservatives as Theocrats. Not all conservatives are members of the 700 club. It sullied what I think started out as a very well written article.

While I still maintain my libertarianism, I do agree with many of the tenants of conservatism.

I believe that workers are helped when their employer prospers.

I believe small business does better with lower taxes than increased regulation.

I believe that we the people are smart enough to carve our our own paths in life, without elected officials and their army of bureaucrats telling us what to eat or wear, where to live, which doctor to see and how often, what kind of car or lightbulb to buy, or how to sneeze. (ok that's mostly libertarian).

Thought provoking though TJ, thanx for posting it.

Jared said...

"It is self professed liberals who seek to regulate what people are allowed to eat and drink."

Do you have an example of this? I think it is unfair to leave it at that with out some kind of substantiation.

"I believe that workers are helped when their employer prospers." Like Enron?

T.J. Shelby said...

Scott, all I can say is that very similar to how, as a liberal, I don't want to be lumped in with Democrats...I think that true conservatives wouldn't want to be lumped in with the current Republicans who seem to only demonstrate their "Conservative" roots in matters of morality legislation...hence the Theocratic knocks.

Scott said...

Senate Democrats propose a soda tax.

New York Democrat Governor Paterson proposes a "fat tax"

T.J. Shelby said...

Soda tax? That's what has you ready to join Beck's Revolution? Lol...

Bro...ha ha ha ha...really? Dude, seriously?

You voted to block two adult citizens from entering a marriage ceremony and you piss bricks over a proposed soda tax infringing on your rights?

I'm without words.

Jared said...

You do realize that just because something is taxed, you are still "allowed" to eat or drink it.

No one is taking away your right to eat or drink.

I think you may need to change the original wording of your statement.

Christopher Maloy said...

Thanks for the props brother. I am glad you brought up the marriage issue. Conservatives want a small non intrusive central government, but they will vote to use the police power of the state to define who can and cant get married. Then again that goes right into the definition of what a "Conserve" ative is.

Christopher Maloy said...

The article didn't say Democrat it said Liberal and it didn't use the word Republican it said Conservative.

Christopher Maloy said...

Scott you should be behind this post for sure. Libertarians and Liberals have a lot in common (yes we differ on the size and strength of the government) but we mostly line up on social issues when it comes to same sex marriage, the legalization of Marajuana, prostitution, and the support or unions.

Scott said...

First off taxation = regulation. A simple rule of government is anything you want less of you tax, anything you want more of you subsidize. Ergo pro-welfare, big government types want more unwed teenage mothers and less nuclear families. What can possibly justify the regulation of junk food? Shouldn't a free people be able to determine for themselves when to eat carrot sticks and when to eat a twinkie?

As for joining the liberal movement, I do love some tenants of liberalism, I have always considered myself an environmentalist, and appreciate the volunteerism of many liberal associations. That being said, I simply cannot get past the big intrusive government thing. I believe capitalism = freedom, and regulation (even good regulation) = lack of freedom.

The president that I most admire is Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican who was also a progressive in his time, the president who I feel was the worst in the last 50 years is Jimmy Carter, a very liberal Democrat. Also, a study of the state of California exemplifies how liberal policies poorly implemented can bankrupt a state.

Oh yeah, and I think unions are a relic of a bygone age, these mafia style organizations accomplish little other than taking the money from productive citizens and giving it to Democrat politicians.

Christopher Maloy said...

Yeah I thought you would agree more with the liberal values than it seemed. Capitalism does not equal freedom. The end game of pure capitalism is one winner and many loosers where we all pay homage to one gigantic winner and money buys representation instead of people. Saying that I am not an anticapitalist. It has its place for some things, just not everything. If you changed your sentence to competition = more freedom I would agree with you. Regulation can be bad, but I would argue that many regulations have created freedom. Could you imagine trading on Wall Street without the regulation of the SEC? Without rules, laws and regulation restricting insider trading and banking? Throwing out that kind of regulation is not what = freedom. Capitalism works only if it is regulated or it leads to tyranny. I would even argue that China is more capitalist and less regulated than the US markets and they are not more free.

California is the 7th most power place in the world has some of the best colleges, labor and industry in all the US. You cannot blame their current economic woes just on the fact they are liberal unless you do the same for all the red states that live in poverty because of their Conservative principles. Where would you rather live if you could and money wasn't a factor - Berkley California or any place in Mississippi? Please. Every state is currently struggling economic hardships and it had a lot to do with deregulation and conservative values. Ask Greenspan.

Big union has become big business and for those that are in that category for me receive the same vitriol. They accomplish so little now because Reagan took a lot of their power away, but they do have a purpose when they are managed correctly.

Anyway, it is always fun to get on TJ's blog and raise some hell and I enjoy the intellectual back and forth Scott, but unfortunately I leaving on vacation in a few days and I will not be able to continue. Maybe when I get back when can chat some more. Have a good holidays.