Sunday, March 27, 2011

Aha! I know what Liberal means!

I’ve been wondering about the logic used by my very conservative friends when they assert one of their “facts” about the liberal media, or anything else they label as liberal.  For what it’s worth, my very conservative friends come in two boxes and a small sack.  Box one contains friends from the parish from which I retired.  I know them well.  Box two contains friends from the locker room at the Y.  I know them less well but they are more colorfully vocal about their beliefs.  The small sack includes a handful of local elected types with whom I work on several community projects.  I know them even less well, but their operating assumption is that ‘progressive’ is a bad word that nobody wants as a label, and ‘liberal’ is so pejorative as to require confession and repentance.  
In any case, I have finally figured out that, for them, liberal simply means all that is not overtly right wing conservative or whatever Limbaugh and gang are ranting about at the moment.  There is no rational political litmus test, nor means test, nor even a DMV eye exam.  If it’s not right wing it must be liberal.  If Limbaugh and associates are savaging something, it must be liberal.  Consistency is not required.  Analysis is not required.  
The peculiar mantra of coming back to the center means sliding over to the edge of the right wing.  They remind me of some of my more radical friends in the 1960s and ‘70s who were on the far left at the time.  Come to think of it, those old radicals are now about the same age as many of these hard line conservatives.  Maybe there is some truth in the adage that today’s radical is tomorrow’s stuffed shirt.  

3 comments:

Dianna Woolley said...

I like this post and seconds after I read it I came upon this quote from Mark Twain -

"I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts."

Perhaps some of your pals are like this?....

Anonymous said...

"Consistency is not required" is a good summary of both how the word "Liberal" and the word "Conservative" is used, both by those who use the words for themselves and for those who use them to describe their opponents! Until one knows the speaker/writer it is difficult to give any meaning to those words. Sometimes I use both words in a quite non-political context, to describe a person's temperament,for example, as "conseratives hate any change in daily routine" or "he is very liberal in judging his friends with tolerance of their faults". In theology, these words usually mean simply "resistent to new ideas" or either "very generous in giving to the poor"(like Bill Gates) or "very skeptical of all traditional beliefs". Dr B

padremambo said...

I think, these days, "liberal" and "conservative" are taxonomies of views about issues that reflect a tribe's inclinations.

What's unfortunate is that the balkanization of our political sphere means that fewer people are willing to compromise or listen.

What I miss are the days when the common good, pragmatism and compromise were considered virtues. Once they were considered conservative virtues.