Yes, I have them. Not often, and I share them even more rarely than I think them. I don’t think them often because in this day and age politics are not very pleasant. Just today Trent posted this on Facebook:
I completely agree with his frustrations and his desire to just escape. The political scene ain’t pretty at the moment. In a few of my former attempts to foray into the political scene and share my thoughts on Facebook I have been attacked and criticized by people I considered friends. Yes, I allowed their hurtful comments to come between us and I unfriended them. I now realize that was wrong, I sought forgiveness from them, and I re-friended them.
Another friend of mine shared the following post the other day and although I consider myself a conservative, I was surprised to realize that I agree with most of the points. Let’s go through them, shall we? Note: my friend did not write this, she only shared it. My comments will be the regular font; the original, unedited posting is in italics.
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.
I think reactions to a political stance may depend in what part of the country you find yourself in – I avoid saying I’m a conservative in certain circles. Either way, I do the same thing – steer the conversation away from incendiary topics to keep the peace.
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.
Ok, I don’t think liberals are disgusting or displeasing. They are people. People can be disgusting and displeasing (I once had a guy bite his toenails and spit them at me from across the room. That same guy also hawked a loogie on my head. He was disgusting – although, yes, I liked him, so I didn’t find even those actions displeasing. I was a teenager, what did I know?). But that does not mean that all people who subscribe to certain opinions or ideas are disgusting or displeasing. There are a LOT of assumptions and over-generalizations in this paragraph to emphasize what I think is her objective: assumptions and over-generalizations are dangerous.
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.
Also: not every conservative is the same. There’s a spectrum, not a hard and fast line.
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.
Yes, to a point – and this raises a question in my mind: what is the purpose of government? Why do people band together in geographical locations and form a ruling organization? Is it just to take care of people? And what are the standards for being civilized? Who gets to set those standards?
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.
I completely agree that healthcare should be far cheaper than it is and that our healthcare system has flaws. But, healthcare being a right? I think that’s true in America, Britain, and most other first world countries. In third world countries? You bet your booties healthcare is a privilege, not a right. I see that as a relative right: if you live in the right country, it’s a right. Should everyone in the world have access to affordable healthcare? That’s a wonderful goal that I fully support. Do I think it will happen? Actually, I think it could, but not because of a government regulation. More on that later. As far as insurance, you all know I got a snazzy new job, which included benefits. I was all like “oooh, benefits! Like health insurance!!! But when I looked at it more closely, I was shocked to discover that what I currently have (health assurance) is actually equal to, and in some aspects, better than the traditional health insurance offered by my employer when I pay roughly the same amount I would have to pay for the traditional insurance ($150/month – which is just for me, because I’m technically my own household). Right now I pay $45/month, for the most basic high-deductible plan, but I’m planning on upping my plan to at least $85/month now that I can afford it. Maybe someday I’ll go up to the $150 level but probably only when I get married, because at that level, ALL maternity costs are covered. And with my health assurance provider, the most I’d ever have to pay for my family (no matter how many children I have) is $450/month. Less, if we weren’t all at the top level. It’s not for everyone, I know. But I was still surprised to realize that what I have, which I always thought was a bit inferior to traditional insurance, is really just as good if not better.
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.
Yes. I agree that everyone should have access to an affordable education. I think we may differ on the level of education. Do I think everyone should go to college? Nope. Did I go to college? Yes. Do I regret it? Yes and no. I didn’t come out of college with tons of debt – just $15,000 of it. Somehow, and looking back at the numbers I really don’t know how, I was able to pay off all my college loans within nine years of graduating. But I’m not using my degree. I feel like I could have gotten a more useful education for far less at a tech school. I do agree that college tuition is bloated and ridiculously high. What universities and most people don’t seem to realize is that there are other alternatives to college. I love and agree with the work Mike Rowe is doing to promote tech schools and trade industries. College is good, but it’s not the only or best option for everyone. Maybe the more that fact is realized, the less colleges will get away with charging exorbitant amounts for an education that may or may not prove profitable.
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.
I looked up the definition of communism, just to be sure of what communism is. Have you done that lately? Looked up the terms you use to make sure you actually know what they are so you can use them the way you want to use them? Because what she’s talking about doesn’t quite line up with the dictionary definition of communism. I agree with just about everything she says here. The one exception being “the wealthy actually paying their share” – how do you know they aren’t? What is “their share” anyway? Who gets to determine that? I’m not wealthy by American standards – you know that, so I’m not defending a way of life I want to maintain or anything like that. Shoot, I’d probably have qualified for welfare for the past ten years if I had to go that route. This touches on the main difference I feel there is between myself and a liberal as she describes herself as being, but more on that later.
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.
I think it is very commendable of her to be willing to pay more taxes. I’m definitely not. I want to keep as much of my money to do with as I see fit, thank you very much. Do taxes just go to lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries? Then I don’t want to pay any taxes at all. But, I suspect the taxes we pay do go to other things – not saying that they don’t also do what she says they do, but I think it’s an over-generalization, the danger of which we’ve already addressed. So, major difference here, but I’m not saying she’s bad because she’s willing to pay more taxes and I’m not.
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.
Hmm, yes. I’m a strong believer in a healthy work-life balance. Honestly, just working 40 hours a week at a job is a wee bit out of my comfort zone, if I’m honest. It’s been a little rough. I couldn’t imagine working three full-time jobs. One is enough for me, and I know, I’m fortunate that it is enough for me.
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.
Amen! Preach it sister! To that end:
8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe we should have the *same* rights as you.
Please see #7. Please don’t force your beliefs on me. You believe it’s right for a man to marry a man, I believe it’s wrong. But just because we believe different things about the topic doesn’t mean that you or I get to be the one who actually decides what is right and wrong. I could be wrong. You could be wrong. Both of us don’t like being told that we’re wrong. I think we can all agree on that. And again, this word: “rights” (which I believe are relative). While I have friends whom I love who are LGBTQ+, I think some (definitely not all) have gotten slightly overzealous in fighting for their rights. They’ve perhaps forgotten that just as they don’t like having beliefs they don’t agree with pushed on them, other people don’t like having beliefs they don’t agree with pushed on them. Basically: nobody likes pushing. Everybody (Christians too) need to stop it.
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).
Question: if illegal immigrants don’t do this, then why do we have illegal immigrant problems and issues? But I agree with her: there are more humane ways to handle it than the way the government does. See: this post. But again, what is the purpose of government? Is it to be compassionate and caring? Or to protect our country?
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.
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. Let’s work to make refugees’ homelands places where they don’t have to flee from, where they can live in safety and perhaps even acquire some basic “rights.” (I’m not mocking the term, btw, just reminding you that rights are not universal, or even universally agreed on, that they are relative, not objective.) And yes, I agree that when horrific circumstances (regardless of the perpetrator/s) force people to leave their beloved homes they should not be treated poorly or turned away for something they had no control over, while at the same time being justifiably cautious about who we’re allowing into the country in this day and age. It’s a fine, tricky line.
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.
I definitely agree that government should not regulate everything. Wouldn’t it be nice if people regulated themselves and their businesses so that government wouldn’t have to do it for them? I know, wishful thinking. So yes, regulations are unfortunately necessary.
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.
I looked up fascism. You should too. Be informed and all that. I can see where she’s coming from on this point, but the fact that she can even make this point publicly proves that we’re not entirely fascist yet. Could it happen? Yes, it could. Do I want that to happen? No, I don’t. Do I think it will happen? Not as long as we have people on both sides of the aisle. That, I believe, is the power of democracy. Our opposing sides balance each other out. Right now, they’re tending to do that by throwing dirt (and worse) at each other – they’re not being nice about it. There are much more palatable ways to even out our differences, but I don’t know if you’ve noticed, the world isn’t really getting nicer.
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.
Hmm. This makes me think, and wonder. My pocket of the world doesn’t seem to be that bad, but am I ignoring things? Do I not realize what happens in my community? I agree that we need to start listening more. And, can we ever overcome all the differences there are between genders, ethnicities, incomes, etc.? Should we? Or should our differences be learned about, understood, and celebrated? Is that what is meant by this? Instead of having differences feared and belittled, should we be trying more to understand where another person is coming from without passing judgment? Questions for thought raised here, thank you.
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.
I REALLY like “how does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?” I had to go to a seminar on harassment when I worked at the library – training us how not to harass people and what to do if we were harassed. I, and all of my coworkers, came out of the seminar feeling slightly the same way: “wow, we are so harassed.” See, what we learned from the training is that harassment is, to some extent, relative. There are some behaviors that are definitely harassment, but some things that, unless you brush them off, could leave you filing harassment claims all day long. Did I like the older gentlemen coming in, leering at me and calling me “doll,” “honey,” “sweetheart”? Not one bit. Did I ever go complain to my boss about it? Nope. Now, if someone had touched me inappropriately or injured me in some physical way, oh yeah, I would have reported that. I think that some people abuse the power of sensitivity – everything you say hurts them – and yes, they do need to develop a thicker skin and let some things slide. But mostly, if someone says that something bothers them, what will it hurt you to not do it?
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’m not against sustainable energy by any means, but I do differ slightly with her on this point. Why not use the coal and oil while it’s here? What else are we going to do with it? Is it going to last forever? No, so we do need to develop sustainable energy sources. I completely support that. But I also don’t think using the resources we have is evil and should be stopped.
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.
Well, if her definition of a liberal is that we should take care of each other, then I’m a liberal too.
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.
But, given everything she said, I can’t really call myself a liberal.
I think the main point we disagree with is the how. How should all of these laudable goals be achieved? I mean, I agree with most of the outcomes she talks about. I want people to be able to have a healthy work-life balance at a meaningful job that provides them enough to afford healthcare and education at reasonable rates. I want people to be able to stay in their homes, whether that’s domestically or internationally. I believe our natural resources are limited, so we should explore sustainable energy options. I don’t want beliefs pushed on me, so I can understand how other people don’t want beliefs pushed on them.
We agree on so many things, except the how. I don’t think government should do much, if any, of the things she talked about on the list. I guess, what it boils down to for me, is that government is not God.
“Woah, Anessa, you just talked a lot about not pushing beliefs on people. And now you bring up God?”
Well, you don’t have to read the rest of this. I’m not telling you you have to believe what I do. I’m just telling you what I believe.
All the social issues she talked about: healthcare, poverty, racism, even greed, is addressed in the Bible. But the Bible wasn’t written to governments, it was written to people. More government, more regulation, is not the answer; people doing what the Bible tells them to do is the answer. Poverty? Well, I’ve been living well below the poverty threshold for the last ten years. Did I suffer? No, because my family took care of me. They obeyed the Biblical command to take care of each other. Do all families? Nope. Biblically, caring for each other should go beyond family:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galations 6:9-10)
But, do most Christians really obey these commands? Unfortunately, no. And I’m no better than anyone else. So, in the absence of doing what the Bible says to do, we have looked to other sources, namely the government, to solve our problems. And that’s not really the government’s job.
Our government, in it’s own words, is here to:
…form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,… (Preamble to the Constitution)
Form a more perfect Union: note that it doesn’t say a “perfect Union” or “the most perfect Union.” Just a more perfect Union. Judging by the people flocking to our borders, I’d say we’ve done a pretty good job at a more perfect Union.
Establish Justice: Yes. We have a judicial system where anyone who has been wronged (or even believes they’ve been wronged) can seek legal recourse and justice. I think everyone knows that life isn’t fair, so the judicial system can’t make everyone happy all the time, but they do try to dispense justice, for the most part – not every judge is incorruptible. But we have a fairly functional judicial system, so, check that box off.
Insure domestic Tranquility: Hmm, peace at home. Well, in my opinion, government could probably be doing a better job at that. I think too many people on both sides of opinions are being too purposefully inflammatory. Yet, we don’t want to censor free speech. It’s another fine, tricky line. You get to say what you want to say, but maybe put some more thought into whether what you’re going to say will help insure domestic tranquility or not. I don’t think this one is all up to government. But, when tensions flare up and riots happen, who comes to quell it? So, they do do their job. But it would be nice if the tensions didn’t flare up to riot levels in the first place, which everyone can help achieve.
Provide for the common defence (or defense, in modern spelling): this is making sure that you don’t feel threatened by another country when you go to bed at night. Do you? No? Do we all share in the common feeling that we’re pretty safe from international threats in this country? Then, yep, government is doing it’s job in this aspect too. Maybe more than it’s job in some cases – we don’t need to get involved in every war everywhere; some wars are just not our business. Sometimes we may have gone to war only on a perceived threat to our country, but generally, I think our country does a good job of protecting us from foreign threats, which is something individuals cannot do on their own.
Promote the general Welfare: I think this point is where the majority of the disagreements come into play, especially concerning social issues. First, please don’t mistake the word “welfare” here to mean that everyone should receive assistance from the government. Here it means “how are you doing, generally?” Second, notice that it doesn’t say “provide for the general welfare” it says “promote the general welfare.” Synonyms for promote include: encourage, advocate, bolster, boost, stimulate, support, etc. Not “do it for you.” Can you get a small business loan to start your business? Yes. If you’re facing hard times can you apply for assistance? Yes. If farmers are hit with a natural disaster can they apply for relief? Yes. Do I want and expect government to do everything for me? No. I think it’s better for me to provide for my own general welfare, and I’ll gladly accept encouragement and support for me to do so, but I don’t want to start expecting someone else to do it for me.
And secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity: This. This is a blessing of liberty. I can say what I want to say. I can have access to a medium where I can share my words with thousands of people. I can go to bed tonight in a warm, comfortable house. I can go to whatever doctor I want to tomorrow because I’m still feeling fairly miserable physically. I can disagree with what my government does with my tax money because of the blessings of liberty. Most of the things we expect as “rights” are really not rights – they’re blessings. Blessings that we have come to take for granted, and by taking them for granted have come to the opinion that when they’re withheld, our rights are being violated. So, the simple fact that these blessings have developed into being viewed as “rights” means that government has excelled in this area. Too good, probably. Blessings: secured.
Will government ever be perfect? Absolutely not – and I think everyone can agree on that. Should we look to the government to solve all our problems? No, that’s not what it’s there for. People (and I’m including me in that designation) are supposed to take care of people, Christians especially. We are supposed to help each other. It’s not the government who has failed to live up to what it said it would do, it’s people who fail people, because people are not perfect, not even Christians. We live in a twisted, fallen world, where misery abounds and sorrows will never cease. Not trying to tell you what to believe here, but I am so thankful my hope is not in the government, but in a Savior who is perfect, and who will never fail me. Someday, I’m going to go live in a perfect world where there are no troubles. For now, I’m going to do my best to make this world as more perfect as I can, one person at a time.