Author Topic: I Am a Liberal  (Read 6292 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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I Am a Liberal
« on: June 13, 2020, 01:42:00 PM »
The following article has appeared on Facebook as coming from actor/director Ron Howard. It did not. The real author's name is included at the end of this post. It pretty much reflects my "liberal" positions.

An open letter to friends and family who are/were shocked to discover I'm a liberal...

This is going to be VERY long, so: TL;DR: I'm a liberal, I've always been a liberal, but that doesn't mean what a lot of you apparently think it does.

Some of you suspected. Some of you were shocked. Many of you have known me for years, even the majority of my life. We either steadfastly avoided political topics, or I carefully steered conversations away from the more incendiary subjects in the name of keeping the peace. "I'm a liberal" isn't really something you broadcast in social circles where "the liberals" can't be said without wrinkling one's nose.

But then the 2016 election happened, and staying quiet wasn't an option anymore. Since then, I've received no shortage of emails and comments from people who were shocked, horrified, disappointed, disgusted, or otherwise displeased to realize I am *wrinkles nose* a liberal. Yep. I'm one of those bleeding heart commies who hates anyone who's white, straight, or conservative, and who wants the government to dictate everything you do while taking your money and giving it to people who don't work.

Or am I?

Let's break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I'm getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines.

1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.

2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that's interpreted as "I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all." This is not the case. I'm fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it's impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes "let people die because they can't afford healthcare" a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I'm not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.

3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn't necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I'm mystified as to why it can't work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.

4. I don't believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don't want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can't afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.

5. I don't throw around "I'm willing to pay higher taxes" lightly. I'm self-employed, so I already pay a shitload of taxes. If I'm suggesting something that involves paying more, that means increasing my already eye-watering tax bill. I'm fine with paying my share as long as it's actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.

6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn't have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.

7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is - and should be - illegal) All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I'm not "offended by Christianity" -- I'm offended that you're trying to force me to live by your religion's rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia on you? That's how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don't force it on me or mine.

8. I don't believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe we should have the *same* rights as you.

9. I don't believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN'T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they're supposed to be abusing, and if they're "stealing" your job it's because your employer is hiring illegally.). I'm not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).

10. I believe we should take in refugees, or at the very least not turn them away without due consideration. Turning thousands of people away because a terrorist might slip through is inhumane, especially when we consider what has happened historically to refugees who were turned away (see: MS St. Louis). If we're so opposed to taking in refugees, maybe we should consider not causing them to become refugees in the first place. Because we're fooling ourselves if we think that somewhere in the chain of events leading to these people becoming refugees, there isn't a line describing something the US did.

11. I don't believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It's not that I want the government's hands in everything -- I just don't trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they're harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.

12. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I'm butthurt over an election, but because I've spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.

13. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege -- white, straight, male, economic, etc -- need to start listening, even if you don't like what you're hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that's causing people to be marginalized.

14. I believe in so-called political correctness. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you're using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person? Your refusal to adjust your vocabulary in the name of not being an asshole kind of makes YOU the snowflake.

15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I'm a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn't mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don't believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.

So, I'm a liberal.

(c) 2018 Lori Gallagher Witt. Feel free to share, but please give me credit, and if you add or change anything, please note accordingly.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Norman Teigen

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2020, 02:51:42 PM »
Me, too.
Norman Teigen

Charles Austin

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2020, 03:00:13 PM »
I’m in.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Say what you will about polls, but all current polls show that a significant majority of Americans agree with the things I have been saying in this modest form.

DCharlton

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2020, 03:04:33 PM »
I think that is a list of nice sentiments, but I'm not sure what it has to do with being a liberal, at least with classic liberalism.  In many ways, the statement could be construed as a rejection of liberalism.
David Charlton  

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Charles Austin

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2020, 03:09:09 PM »
Nice Dodge. So find some textbook paragraphs to tell us what “classic liberalism” is and let’s talk about that. Rather than reality.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Say what you will about polls, but all current polls show that a significant majority of Americans agree with the things I have been saying in this modest form.

DCharlton

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2020, 03:29:44 PM »
Nice Dodge. So find some textbook paragraphs to tell us what “classic liberalism” is and let’s talk about that. Rather than reality.

With you, Charles, there is no point.  You pride yourself in your ignorance.   

For anyone else, I'll repeat that in many ways the statement contains a list of reasons that liberalism is inadequate.  Constitutional government, personal liberties and economic freedoms, the statement suggests, are insufficient to the needs of the day.  Not only are they insufficient, but in many cases they need to be limited for the advancement of the common good and social justice.  The tone of the statement is, "I still believe in liberalism, but it's not enough.  We need to do more." 
« Last Edit: June 13, 2020, 03:41:42 PM by DCharlton »
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Steven W Bohler

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2020, 03:32:27 PM »
Given her Point 1, I take it that the author opposes abortion. 

Voelker

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2020, 03:41:11 PM »
I've seen this letter any number of times before, each time with whatever approved talking points set front and center instead of those found here. No such positions are based on over-arching principles, but rather on drawing the light the writer wants to be seen in. It would be interesting to have a collection of letters such as this from every decade or so, just to see what is newly condemned and what is newly embraced.

peter_speckhard

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2020, 04:00:36 PM »
If anyone was actually shocked to discover that Ron Howard was a liberal, now they know. Pick my jaw off the floor.

Without ever having met Ron Howard, I could have easily gotten 100% on a multiple choice test about the positions and reasoning behind them he expresses in this letter. Not a single sentence was even moderately surprising. Most of it was pure boilerplate.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2020, 04:11:20 PM »
If anyone was actually shocked to discover that Ron Howard was a liberal, now they know. Pick my jaw off the floor.

Without ever having met Ron Howard, I could have easily gotten 100% on a multiple choice test about the positions and reasoning behind them he expresses in this letter. Not a single sentence was even moderately surprising. Most of it was pure boilerplate.


Ron Howard did not write it. It's been misapplied to him on Facebook. The real author is Lori Gallagher Witt who wrote it in January 2018. I believe that it is her convictions as a liberal - as they are mine and many others who have liked and reposted the article.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2020, 04:13:47 PM »
I think that is a list of nice sentiments, but I'm not sure what it has to do with being a liberal, at least with classic liberalism.  In many ways, the statement could be construed as a rejection of liberalism.


Do you also disagree with this post on "classical liberal principles"? https://theihs.org/news/core-classical-liberal-principles/?gclid=CjwKCAjw8pH3BRAXEiwA1pvMsWhsYY9B65NVutYzXoLaJB0wCayxvJioWx4npc0OSSFV445Z9YLJChoCVYsQAvD_BwE
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2020, 04:22:49 PM »
So here is how people responded almost instantly:
A couple of those damned liberals said, “yeah, that’s us.” And then... And then....! Wait for it...!
-Liberalism isn’t truly liberal.
-Abortion! Abortion! (That’s all that matters)
-Ho hum, old stuff, yawn
-Well, we know Ron Howard is...
-“pure boilerplate”. So what?
That’s not an auspicious beginning of a discussion, is it? Oh, I forgot, someone also said this humble correspondent is ignorant and he doesn’t want to discuss things with me.
OK
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Say what you will about polls, but all current polls show that a significant majority of Americans agree with the things I have been saying in this modest form.

peter_speckhard

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2020, 04:27:04 PM »
So here is how people responded almost instantly:
A couple of those damned liberals said, “yeah, that’s us.” And then... And then....! Wait for it...!
-Liberalism isn’t truly liberal.
-Abortion! Abortion! (That’s all that matters)
-Ho hum, old stuff, yawn
-Well, we know Ron Howard is...
-“pure boilerplate”. So what?
That’s not an auspicious beginning of a discussion, is it? Oh, I forgot, someone also said this humble correspondent is ignorant and he doesn’t want to discuss things with me.
OK
What kind of discussion were you hoping for? Ron Howard (or someone else)said on Facebook that he is a liberal. What does that have to do with anything this forum exists to discuss?

Charles Austin

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2020, 04:37:11 PM »
Not hoping for any kind of discussion at all, Peter, I was just noting the usual snotty responses.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Say what you will about polls, but all current polls show that a significant majority of Americans agree with the things I have been saying in this modest form.

DCharlton

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Re: I Am a Liberal
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2020, 04:41:26 PM »
I think that is a list of nice sentiments, but I'm not sure what it has to do with being a liberal, at least with classic liberalism.  In many ways, the statement could be construed as a rejection of liberalism.

Do you also disagree with this post on "classical liberal principles"? https://theihs.org/news/core-classical-liberal-principles/?gclid=CjwKCAjw8pH3BRAXEiwA1pvMsWhsYY9B65NVutYzXoLaJB0wCayxvJioWx4npc0OSSFV445Z9YLJChoCVYsQAvD_BwE

Why do you insert the word "also".  I didn't say I disagree with the statement you posted.  I said I didn't think I really represented liberalism.  I went on to say later that I think a more accurate way to read the statement as an acknowledgement that liberalism is insufficient. 
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?