I Know What You Are, But What Am I?

I’ve wanted for some time to ponder the growing tendency of many Republicans to use the term “Democrat Party” instead of the more familiar “Democratic Party”. A tactic even our President has adopted. And the current Republican strategy to demonize the term “liberal” and equate it to limp-wristed, nebbish, effete, ex-hippies. And to further suggest that any semblance to socialism is to be equally dismissed as a slippery slope to communism. Even further, France and now all of Europe are not seen as precedents of America, but as a region of weak, withering, peoples, only existing by being propped up by our global might and reach. Somehow the oafish bullies and the BMOC types of high school become the Republicans of adult life.

I suggest you pull out your Webster and refresh your understanding of the labels “liberal” and “conservative”. I’d further suggest you afford yourself of the studies that indicate how those with conservative leanings are apt to be individuals who are attracted to authoritarian control.

One wonders at the longer term implications of even having a self-selecting volunteer military. Our earlier wars that were soldiered by a draft would certainly have cut more equally across the population.

In the context of the time, democracy was a very liberal concept. In the context of the time Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and many more of our founders would have been seen as liberal. Certainly the Loyalists and the Tories occupied the conservative niche at the time.

If a liberal characteristic is the ability to see things in the context of the time and place they occurred, then I value that characteristic. If being liberal means I am less drawn to authoritarian father figures, and am more independent, questioning, open minded, and take responsibility for my own path in life, then I value that characteristic.

Yes, there is a broad swatch of the population that can be mesmerized by an authoritarian figure who suggests he/she, and thus you, belong to the superior race, religion, creed, etc. And I suppose that is why there will always be unquestioning followers of a Hitler, a Pope, a Castro, a Pat Roberson, an Osama bin Laden, etc.

It is authoritarian led conservatives who end up being the cadres of recruits for authoritarian headed conservative movements. Thank God for those not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms -- they are the “liberals”.

But regardless of our growing blue/red divide, our pissing contests between Republicans and Democrats, our gridlocked legislatures, the problems on the horizon are undeterred. And our American arrogance can be so soon humbled when we are overtaken by problems that have been foreseen for years and by now are close to being inevitable.

The childish name-calling and innuendo by our leaders permeates to our communities, to our schoolyards. And unless we as a nation start pulling together rather than pulling apart, we, to use a military term, will be OTBE (overtaken by events).


Alter of Freedom said…
Bill those filling the ranks of the Democratic Party of Virginia as amplified by such bloggers as Raising Kaine and Not Larry Sabato no longer consider themselves "liberals" but have replaced that term with "progressive" in the tradition of the Progressive movement born out of Wisconsin in the early part of last century.
RVA Foodie said…
Bill, really good analysis. Glad I found your blog and rediscovered the ubiquitous childhood retort that you used for a title. I go by "progressive" as well and I'm thankful that we have two of that ilk as frontrunners in the Democrat(ic) party primaries. I tried to break down the election thus far on my blog. Your comments are more than welcome.
Paul Hammond said…
I see very little independent thinking among those who classify themselves as liberals, progressives, conservatives or Christian fundamentalists. All seem lacking of a sense of humor and take themselves way too seriously. It reminds me of creative thinking by committee, which usually isn't. Most new ideas come from courageous individual thinkers.
'Rick Gray said…
Bill, Delighted to stumble across your blog. You're exploring the sort of issues I attempt to deal with in my weekly column in the Village News (Chester) -- likewise from the left of center. Amazed we haven't crossed paths, but that's a problem the internet can be helpful in rectifying.

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