Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Liberal Definition

For the most of my adult life, I've been called "liberal." What that means, I suppose, in relation to my politics and world view is that I've always cared more about the individual than the group...that institutions aren't as important as the people who comprise them.

I've always had a problem with the "You got yourself into this mess, now get yourself out" mindset that so many conservatives seem to have. Taking responsibility for your actions is important, but sometimes we forget how easy it is to fall through the cracks. I remind myself daily that not everyone is as lucky as I have been, not everyone grows up with the white picket fence and loving parents and supportive friends and family. If a Fortune 500 company and multi-millionaire CEO's are worthy of a helping hand, then so is a scared teenager or wounded veteran or lonely senior citizen. Everyone is worthy of our attention...no one should be left behind. To badly paraphrase scripture "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do also for Me."

A friend of mine told me the other day that I wasn't so much a liberal as I was an idealist. I think he was right. I don't necessarily agree with all the traditional liberal stances on issues (as I'm sure not all conservatives agree 100% either), but I sleep better at night with a heart that bleeds and not a heart of stone. I have to show mercy and love to repay the mercy and love I've been shown.

So, I guess in the strictest definition it all boils down to this:

Conservatives see the world as it is.
Idealists see the world as it could be.

It's a shame we all can't meet in the middle and make it the world that it should be.

3 comments:

Casey and Amy Bough said...

What house did you grow up in, because we didn't have anything close to a white fence. OUr house was red brick with a red fence on the porch. Maybe that is the idealist viewpoint you were mentioning.

Bill O' Rights said...

Dude there are two kinds of liberals. There is the classical liberal who believes in individual freedom and a minimalist government that doesn't smother the populace with a nanny-state regulatory system. The modern liberal (exemplified by today's Democratic party) espouses the nanny-state as the cure for all ills and the righter of all wrongs. This second group couldn't care less about the individual as they are all for the collective. What you own or what you earn is subject to confiscation and distribution to the masses under the guise of "progressive" ideals. Marx comes to mind here.

Conservatives don't fight the idea of giving to the less fortunate; we are quite charitable. We fight against the liberal assumption that government is the most efficient mechanism to extract this charity. Since there are already private organizations that fulfill the function of distributing aid to the needy government is marginal in assuming this role.

Since when has government been anything but inept and wasteful? Social security, medicare, medicaid, and other social programs consume 50+% of the federal budget and are escalating beyond our ability to pay for them. More than 50 million Americans receive a check from the government. Where is the fiscal accountability in government that is expected in our private sector? Is it wise to place our healthcare system is these hands? Socialized medicine has been a failure wherever it has been implemented, never delivering quality patient care, freedom of choice, or efficient cost.

Let private resources (churches, etc) feed the hungry and let the government defend the borders and handle trade. If we as Christians would step up to the plate and give our time in volunteering for such we wouldn't need Ellsworth Toohey -wannabees like Barack Obama hawking these new ideas for income redistribution. Empowering the individual through charity in Christ will go a long way toward addressing this in our country.

podge said...

I'm thinking it's more accurately (albeit stereotypically) stated as such:

Social liberals believe in the right of the individual to do as he or she darn well pleases, regardless of the effect it may have on society as a whole.

Social conservatives believe that the greater good comes when the whims of the individual are sacrificed for the good of society as a whole.

Neither extreme is all that great, for obvious reasons. If a nice, moderate mixture of the two were possible, things would be better. Unfortunately, extreme liberals and extreme conservatives have so polarized the very terms themselves that many feel that they must wholly stand for one or the other.

By the way, ThatChris, I never thought you to be all that liberal... idealistic, yes. But your heart doesn't bleed like you think it bleeds. We're probably equidistant from the center, you on the lefthand side and myself on the right. Not too extreme, just a bit eccentric.