Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Five Things I Wish Conservatives Understood About Liberals

I am misunderstood. I believe most liberals are. This is not because I am inarticulate or that (all) conservatives are necessarily closed-minded. Rather, I feel there are preconceptions regarding liberals that conservatives must first see past before they can ever hope to see us clearly. A basic set of assumptions that just are not true, no matter how many times they are repeated by the talking heads on the right or on a certain “news” network. I will agree to accept that not every conservative channels Ann Coulter and that MSNBC might lean a little left, if those of you from the right can at least consider the following with an open mind:

1. Liberals are not (necessarily) atheists, agnostics, or anti-Christian
A lot of us lead personally conservative lives, are active in our churches, and have a very firm Christian faith. We do not appreciate having our faith questioned anymore than you would. It is possible to be a radically, liberal Christian. Liberals understand that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. So while I want my right to practice my faith protected, I understand that in order to achieve this, atheists’, agnostics’, Muslims’, and Jews’ rights must also be protected. Yes, I am saying that even the far right wing needs their rights protected. And another thing, no, I do not believe that there is a war on Christmas. One only need to patronize a retail establishment from October through December to see that Christmas is alive and well. If you believe that Christ has been taken out of Christmas, then you need to address this in your local church. Legislating a nativity scene onto your courthouse lawn won’t get Christ back into Christmas anymore than its absence will remove Him. Faith is personal. The Government represents all people, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. If you mix the two, you are endangering the very thing you are hoping to protect.

2. Liberals are not pro-abortion
Liberals believe that abortion should be rare, safe, and legal. Liberals begin with the premise that we must first begin to value life that exists outside the womb. Liberals understand that we won’t decrease the abortion rate until we, as a nation, support and value adoption, address poverty, provide access to health care (including birth control), strengthen families and our educational system for all our citizens. The causes of unwanted pregnancies are complicated and varied. If you give young girls hope, an education, a purpose, a path out of poverty, and yes, access to birth control, you’ll have fewer unwanted pregnancies and therefore, fewer abortions. Will this eliminate all abortion? No, but neither will criminalizing women and doctors.

3. Liberals are not “angry” (all the time)
I’ve always been confused by the “angry” label that gets hung around liberals’ collective necks. Do we get angry? Sure, I do. I get angry about injustice, poverty, greed, and stupidity. I loathe selfishness and self-promotion. I happen to know a lot of conservatives who get angry about some of those things as well. I’ve seen a lot more angry conservatives since President Obama’s election. Does this mean their views are liberalizing? Doubtful. It means they see something they don’t like and it’s making them mad. Welcome to the party. Martinis all around.

4. Liberals are not socialists
Or fascists, or Marxists, or communists. Liberals believe in a free market. However, we understand that each administration walks a tightrope that spans too much regulation on the one side and too little on the other. Do we think there was too little regulation during the last eight years? Well, to quote one of my “favorite” conservatives, “You betcha.” However, just because we are for addressing this oversight in an aggressive fashion does not mean we want the banks and all industry nationalized. We would have preferred to not be faced with these huge economic issues in the first place. But, it is what is. You play the hand you were dealt the best you can.

5. Liberals are not (all) snobby elitists from Ivy League schools
If one of my children has the opportunity to attend an Ivy League school (c’mon Standford soccer scholarship), I’ll jump for joy. However, whether or not that happens is not the important point. What is important is that my children attend a university. I care a whole lot less about what they study than the experience they have while attending a university. I care greatly that they are exposed to different points of view (yes, gasp!, even conservative ones) and learn to reason and think for themselves. Logic is key. We haven’t had a lot of that in the collective sense recently and look where that has led. I care about the opportunities my children will have in life that otherwise will not be afforded to them if they do not receive a higher education. One need only to check the difference in unemployment rates between college educated workers and those who do not posses a college education to see how important this can be from a practical standpoint.

From a philosophical standpoint, I think it is the difference between having a quality life and fighting each day for quality of life. If after attending a university my children find their passion in a profession that does not require a college degree, I’ll support them all the way. However, I believe it better to choose among many options than to make the best out of limited ones.

Oh, and just one more little footnote. Whenever I stir the conservative pot with my writing, it seems inevitable that I come across as sounding fat and ugly. I don’t know why that this, but someone always feels a need to point out that I’d be an excellent candidate for Extreme Makeover. For my group of “fans” that fall into this category, I’ll make a deal with you. If you get me a spot on Extreme Makeover, I’ll read a book to you while I’m recuperating from my plastic surgery and we’ll call it even.

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