Thursday, July 28, 2005

Who's a liberal?

I am.

I'm not afraid of it, ashamed of it, or uncomfortable about it. I'm not even embarrassed to say the word: L I B E R A L (say it with me, if you want)

There's been an awful lot of crap floating around these past 2.6 decades I've been around as to what it really means to be "liberal." I couldn't possibly try to address all the information, disinformation, and uniformed opinion that has gone into creating a smear campaign against one of the proudest words in the English language. Instead, let me describe what liberalism means to me.

Liberal. To me it means I believe people will make good decisions, most of the time, when they have enough information. This applies to economics, politics, business, even sex lives. I believe that if markets work, people will become more free and more independent. I believe if politics works there will be a discussion of issues and ideas. Discussion does not equal alternating commercials or glib soundbites. It does mean an ability to answer questions on the fly, and being able to deviate from prepared remarks.

I believe that the government that governs least doesn't always govern best. I believe that a government focused on problems will do better than one stirring up hot-button issues. I believe being a good world citizen is like being a good neighbor. You can't expect your neighbor to grab a garden hose and pitch in when your house is burning if you slam the door in his face when he asks to borrow your hand-saw.

I believe that a government that sacrifices the environment for jobs today, but expects technology to solve energy and environmental problems is committing a fraud against they're constitutionally entrusted responsibilities. If there is enough creativity to create technology to solve today's environment problems tomorrow, why couldn't it also be used to solve tomorrows job problems today?

I believe a government that is willing to go into debt to buy guns and bombs but not to build schools or pay teachers is flirting with losing what the Chinese called the "mandate of heaven."

I believe a U.S. that was truly committed to reducing terrorism around the world, and the poverty that breeds it, would quickly phase out agricultural and corporate subsidies--and 90% of our foreign aid wouldn't be needed. All the money the government spends on farms subsidies could go to other purposes, and average Americans would spend the same or less on food. Money that would go directly to farmers all over the world--connecting them to the world economy, and giving them a chance to send their children to schools. A chance to hope.

I believe the world will not get better if we continue to fear for the worst. We can plan for it. We must be aware of it. But we ought not fear it. The world will only become better if we imagine how it can be better, and work to see it happen.

I am liberal because I see this future and I do not fear it. I know a day is coming when same-sex couples not only will have recognized unions, but will be able to jointly raise their children. I know a day is coming when schools will be funded, and teachers paid what they deserve. When children are challenged to be scientists, inventors, philosophers and poets; not just consumers.

I know these things will happen because I know the world is full of incredible people. People who are not afraid to hope. Who are not afraid to imagine. I know these people are working to move the world a little closer to those ideals, and I know we're all better off for the efforts.

I am liberal. I am not afraid.

1 comment:

Fr. Brian said...

I hope most of what you are hoping for one days comes to be. Not all of it but definitely most of it. I will look forward to reading "House of Wonks" often