Label yourself a liberal if…

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2005

I have been thinking about name calling this week.

Over the past week I have been called a liberal a couple of times. It wasn’t meant as an insult, like it so often is, but I quickly protested. Libertarian, maybe; open-minded, of course; but liberal, no way. I hate paying taxes and despise bureaucracy too much to be a liberal.

The designation &uot;liberal&uot; gets banded about a lot, especially by politicians who claim to be conservative. Some politicians utter the word &uot;liberal&uot; with such disgust in their voice that someone might think they were talking about the devil himself.

Many of these same &uot;conservative&uot; politicians turn around and vote for legislation with massive pork barrel spending, but they love calling others liberal, especially during elections.

If you don’t agree with everything our current President does or says you are liberal.

If you think drilling for oil in a pristine wilderness is a bad idea you are a tree-hugging liberal.

If you believe some mistakes may have been made in the present conflict in Iraq, not only are you a bleeding-heart liberal, but you obviously hate America.

If you ever use the words corporate and welfare together, not only are you a Pinko-commie liberal, but you hate capitalism and have posters of Lenin, Mao and Che Guevara on your wall.

If you ever voted for a Democrat, even if it was for prom queen, you are liberal. Then again, liberals don’t vote for kings and queens.

If you don’t think Dick Cheney is the hippest guy on the planet, you are a liberal.

If you think symbolism and a metaphor or two may have been used in the Bible, you are a liberal and an atheist, not to mention you have a one-way ticket to a very hot place upon your physical demise.

Personally, I don’t like categories or being labeled. I like the idea of political parties even less, but I digress.

The name-calling comes from everywhere. The left, the right, and the moderates; everyone has a personal favorite.

Some of my favorites for the right include right wing radical, close-minded, fascist, and right wing nazi, but the last one may be a bit redundant. Some of my favorites for the left are the aforementioned Pinko-commie liberal (a little outdated now, but still funny), bleeding heart, and ultra left wing. All the moderates get is wishy-washy or squishy.

After being accused of being a liberal, I decided to refresh my vocabulary and look up the word liberal in the dictionary and a few other political &uot;favorites&uot;.

I started with conservative.

The first definition was an adjective. Tending to oppose change; favoring traditional views and values. Conservative can also be a noun. A person who favors traditional views and values. Sounds about right.

Libertarian. Noun, one who believes in freedom of action and thought; one who believes in free will. Pretty cool.

A word that has been in the news this week, ideologue. Noun, an advocate of a given ideology, especially one of its official components. Sure, why not.

And finally liberal – The first definition was also an adjective. Having, expressing, or following political views or policies that favor civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of governmental power to promote social progress. Having, expressing, or following views or policies that favor the freedom of individuals to act or express themselves in a manner of their own choosing. Tolerant of the idea or behavior of others; broadminded.

Noun, a person with liberal ideas or opinions.

Wow! There was no mention of tree hugging, no mention of overall foolishness and stupidity and not even a whisper about taxes and wild government spending.

The bit about using governmental power to promote social progress may raise a few eyebrows, but no one can pretend they are always against this concept.

According to these definitions, I might be a liberal. I like civil liberties and the occasional democratic reform. I hope I am broadminded and tolerant. I am also a big fan of individuals having the freedom to express themselves.

Maybe being called a liberal isn’t so bad after all.