Before my Politics and Media exam yesterday* I ran into this American Study Abroad student whom I accidently snogged last month (it turned out that he’d postal-voted for Shrub, thus making it an Accident**). When he learned my exam was for a unit run by our Illustrious Collage of Arts Foudation Dean who also happens to be a Big Leftie, my American friend kindly offered me some, uh, sage advice to help me pass.
“Be liberal,” he said. “Simon will love it.”
If I were hispanic, I would’ve done that don-tchu-no-giv-me-noh-ahtitood neck rotation thing*** and said “You don’t have to tell me to be liberal, honey, it runs in my veins.” But I’m not, so I just laughed nervously at a further generalisation he made about my lecturer, politely wished him well for his exam and excused myself. Back. Away. From the Republican. Slowly. His ignorance could be contaigious and might be set off by sudden movements.
Anyway, the way this guy mentioned being ‘liberal’ got me thinking. It was like he thought being ‘liberal’ was contrary to the way human beings would/should normally operate and must only be feigned when writing an exam set by some weirdo commie bastard who may or may not have worked at a terrorist training camp in Cuba.
It was like being liberal was dirty.
What the hell is with some people’s problem with liberalism, huh? Why is it bad to think that everyone deserves a chance to access decent education, healthcare, reasonable living and working conditions and a fair? Why is it wrong to support civilised diplomacy rather than reckless aggression, fairer income re-distribution, services which benefit larger parts of the community and not just those who can afford it, equal pay for equal work, the right of women to choose what happens to their bodies, the right of people to choose their faith coupled with an obligation to not impose their beliefs on others, the right of grown adults to decide whom they want to marry, and the sustainable use of natural resources?
Please, just let me know where I’ve got it wrong, because it’s killing me.
Now, if I am totally and utterly convinced by flawless and brilliant reasoning (something other than If It’s Not Right It’s Wrong, please) that I’m in the wrong camp and I capitulate and repent for the error of my nasty liberal ways, what should I do? How should I act? What am I supposed to believe in? (Heaven would forbid me, as a new Tory, to think for myself.) The Democratic Underground author I’ve linked to above points out that
many conservatives I have met usually espouse one or more programs and policies that are mainly self serving – including the reduction or elimination of taxes, protection of the status quo and states rights irrespective of societal inequities, “my” religious convictions – not yours, prosperity at any cost, business interests – not the public’s, the right to own assault weapons, a powerful military rather than universal public health and education, or finally America first – the U.N. never! In a more vernacular sense, “I’ve got mine, Jack, to hell with you.”
Don’t Americans love themselves from being the land of liberty? Well then get with the facts, dammit, and celebrate liberalism. Because it means sticking up for everyone, not just yourself. Because it means giving a fuck.
** Note to self: interrogate all potential snoggees about their political viewpoints beforehand, regardless of cuteness.
*** That would be rotation on the y-axis, cf the chick in The Exorcist. I can’t think of a better way to describe it right now.
PS — More on the Shrub election: The Election is Over. The Fight is not.