Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Snowguy716

Our perceptions of liberalism

27 posts in this topic

I wanted to write about this because people have labeled a lot of people as "liberals" that, in reality, are not liberal. I think, most of the time, they associate someone as liberal because some conservative has used the term as an insult against them, saying things like "ultra LIBERAL Nancy Pelosi" or "very LIBERAL Hillary Clinton."

I'm sorry, I'm a liberal. If you think Hillary Clinton is an ultra-liberal, then you don't know what a liberal is.

The dictionary definition of liberal is not "A fascist mindset that wishes to drastically reduce your freedom and steal your money to create programs for lazy poor people"

It is:

1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.

Believe it or not, the term arises from a time in Europe when the conservatives were noblemen and monarchs that supported the continuance of an agrarian economy based strict hereditary class lines and serfdom. The liberals were those pesky peasants and intellectuals that stirred up the society and liberalized the economy and personal freedoms. Sometimes the liberalization of society was gradual and relatively peaceful (England) and sometimes violent (France, Russia).

The U.S, from the beginning, had a very very liberal outlook on life. While the three tenants of imperial Russia were autonomy, orthodoxy, and nationality, ours were life, liberty, and property.

As with any new system, it took a while for people to adjust to the changes. With the industrial revolution things improved drastically for people, but it took a while. In the early 1800s, England experienced a booming economy and the building of canals and railroads. Products could be moved efficiently from factory to market much faster than ever before, but quality of life didn't improve for the people working in these factories. Often times entire families, including children as young as 5 had to work 16 to 18 hour days just to afford living in a room with other families with no sanitation or electricity.

Noting the deplorable conditions, the government began to set up regulations on these business including child labor laws and eventually establishing state schools for all children. Minimum wage laws were put in place to guarantee some kind of quality of life for people. In England, for example, the liberals set up a welfare system for the unemployed that included basic benefits of a place to sleep and meager food portions. The conservatives reformed this system into a system of poorhouses where you wore a uniform and worked doing menial labor (like moving rocks) competely viewable by the public for your daily food ration. The idea was to make the poor house the most deplorable place in society where even dying in the streets from starvation would be better.

A small middle class (gentry) arose in England during the 19th and early 20th century becoming quite rich while the poor (working class) stayed very poor with very small increases in quality of life through better educations and better sanitation systems, all provided by the government. It wasn't actually until after the 2nd World War that quality of life for the English drastically improved. During this time many industries were nationalized, minimum wages were increased, infrastructure was revamped, and a middle class surged from a small class (though it was still much bigger than before the industrial revolution) to the norm. Finally, everyone could have a decent place to live and healthcare coverage and a good education.

As the system aged and infrastructure grew old, people got complacent and strikes began to affect the economy. The oil crisis in the early '70s coupled with strong inflation seriously hurt the economy and the Brits threw out the liberals and elected conservatives.. I can understand this. Liberals don't always get it right, and no one party should be in power indefinitely.. you need fresh ideas and reform and even just some new faces every once in a while.

While the economy grew quite a bit under Thatcher, the poor in England did not do any better. The privatization of industries led to their downfall. Britrail is a good example of this. Compare Britrail with any other European railway.. it's probably more comparable to Amtrak in efficiency and service quality.

During the 1980s and 1990s, a real fear of liberalism stuck with memories hearkening back to the '70s.. and as a result, the liberal parties moved to the right.. and now we have Tony Blair.. a foreign policy hawk that loves to raise taxes and spend all sorts of money on things that don't benefit the population one bit. The poor aren't any better off in England, and I dare say hte rich aren't either. I mean.. the combination of the conservatives ruining the rail system and the liberals hiking the price of gas up to about $7.50/gallon has left Britain in quite a conundrum... either you pack the wife and kids in a mini-compact and only drive when absolutely necessary, or you walk...

I tell people I had a typical experience with Britrail when I was in England... I never had the chance to ride the train because they had randomly cancelled all the trains for the day to do some routine maintenence work on the track. The notices were written by hand and taped to a padlocked door at the train station. They suggested taking the bus, about 8 blocks away.

I chose England here because I think there are some very strong similarities in the U.S, although our process was drug out over a longer period of time and never went to the extremes that Britain went to. We never had socialized medicine or steel industries but we never had disgusting poor houses and we invested earlier in education for all citizens.

So.. to me, being a liberal is being a progressive. I think we should stress three things in government: Education, healthcare, and infrastructure. If we give everyone a really good education, give them basic healthcare that focuses on prevention, and created a state of the art infrastructure, we will have provided the vast majority of Americans with the tools that they need to succeed. Of course there are always those that will not or can not participate in society... but I think there would be less of those if we focused on educating people and making sure they stay healthy.

Some good quotes from two good liberals, Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone:

Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.

I learned more about the economy from one South Dakota dust storm than I did in all my years of college.

It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.

There are not enough jails, not enough police, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people.

This, then, is the test we must set for ourselves; not to march alone but to march in such a way that others will wish to join us.

We are in danger of making our cities places where business goes on but where life, in its real sense, is lost.

Paul Wellstone:

Above and beyond the question of how to grow the economy there is a legitimate concern about how to grow the quality of our lives.

Education and democracy have the same goal: the fullest possible development of human capabilities.

I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.

I saw as a teacher how, if you take that spark of learning that those children have, and you ignite it, you can take a child from any background to a lifetime of creativity and accomplishment.

Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.

Our aims in political activism are not, and should not be, to create a perfect utopia.

The kind of national goal we ought to be thinking about is way beyond national product - it is how do we as a nation help our children be the best kinds of people they could possibly be?

The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power.

We must remember that for many, many women, work does not represent liberation, modernization, or market success. Most women are not upper income professionals and certainly not executives of large corporations and banks; most women work in the expanding low-wage service sector of our economy.

We need a new kind of citizenship, so that we can see citizens as themselves earning the rank of patriot because of their involvement in their community affairs... .We as a society need to be encouraging people to focus not just on individual wants but on serving the larger community.

What the poor, the weak, and the inarticulate desperately require is power, organization, and a sense of identity and purpose, not rarefied advice of political scientists.

And I think this about sums it up:

What we seek is more simply to improve the quality of human life while at the same time respecting the natural environment which sustains it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


And I think this about sums it up:

What we seek is more simply to improve the quality of human life while at the same time respecting the natural environment which sustains it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^Key word is "moderate".

Im a "moderate" liberal myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Modern liberalism is all about the collective, and emotion. The individual is just a means to the end, a pawn to serve a huge state.

Classical liberalism is about the individual, reason, economic freedom and personal freedom. A classical liberal has no interest in material equality, but equality under law is paramount. This country was founded by liberals, but they were not of the modern variety. I'd consider myself a classical liberal.

It's amazing how severe the distortion has become.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are confining the term liberalism to a certain period of time. At the time, economic and personal freedom were steps forward from the previous autonomous/aristrocratic Monarchies that dominated in Europe.

A conservative's view of freedom seems to be no or little government intervention in economic or personal affairs often even when it does more harm than good.

A liberal's view of freedom is giving every person an equal opportunity to make him/herself into what they want to be.

Denying an 18 year old high school graduate admission to a college where she has the academic rigor to attend because of her family income is an infringement upon her rights. No matter how you look at the situation, someone is going to have an infringement on their freedom... but you must weigh them. Denying the girl a high quality education to keep that money in your pocketbook is a larger infringement than the girl taking a small portion of already successful peoples' income so that she can succeed and do the same for the next intelligent 18 year old girl.

And how would you call an education or healthcare a material thing? Is being healthy a material thing?

And, Moonshield, I want you to answer this question from an entirely Libertarian view: (Even though I recognize you may not be that extreme)

If a person, for whatever reason, cannot work, has no family ties anywhere, and can not find aid from a church/private charity organization, what should that person do?

Keep in mind, that a case like this would be much more common if we were to abolish all government welfare systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone who accomplishes something...no matter how small...receives at least some help along the way. Some receive so much help they develope a severely misplaced sense of entitlement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If a person, for whatever reason, cannot work, has no family ties anywhere, and can not find aid from a church/private charity organization, what should that person do?

Keep in mind, that a case like this would be much more common if we were to abolish all government welfare systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


My voting record is that of a liberal. In a civilized nation, we have to take care of our own---even if they're lazy bums who figure out ways to manipulate the system. The best we can do is try our best to create the best environment for our people while at the same time not removing too much competition so that people become lazy and complacent. It's a fine line. America is America because of our competition---it makes us better, sharper. We have to keep that while at the same time providing for all of our citizens. No one said it was easy, but we'll get it right. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Modern liberalism is all about the collective, and emotion. The individual is just a means to the end, a pawn to serve a huge state.

Classical liberalism is about the individual, reason, economic freedom and personal freedom. A classical liberal has no interest in material equality, but equality under law is paramount. This country was founded by liberals, but they were not of the modern variety. I'd consider myself a classical liberal.

It's amazing how severe the distortion has become.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great posts folks:)

A few people who I think are NOT liberals:

Bill Clinton

Hillary Clinton

John Kerry

Al Gore

Joe Biden

Barack Obama

Are there any TRUE liberals in American politics? I'm hard pressed to think of one. The Clintons and Kerry are against gay marriage. Bill Clinton fell all over himself to sign DOMA. Gore and Obama are not liberals. At one time in the 1980s Biden said he wasn't sure public floggings would be a bad idea for drug dealers! And these people are called LIBERALS?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great posts folks:)

A few people who I think are NOT liberals:

Bill Clinton

Hillary Clinton

John Kerry

Al Gore

Joe Biden

Barack Obama

Are there any TRUE liberals in American politics? I'm hard pressed to think of one. The Clintons and Kerry are against gay marriage. Bill Clinton fell all over himself to sign DOMA. Gore and Obama are not liberals. At one time in the 1980s Biden said he wasn't sure public floggings would be a bad idea for drug dealers! And these people are called LIBERALS?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul Wellstone was a liberal.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a socialist, but runs as an indepedent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are there any TRUE liberals in American politics? I'm hard pressed to think of one. The Clintons and Kerry are against gay marriage. Bill Clinton fell all over himself to sign DOMA. Gore and Obama are not liberals. At one time in the 1980s Biden said he wasn't sure public floggings would be a bad idea for drug dealers! And these people are called LIBERALS?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Here are some things that would make me think a candidate was a liberal:

he /she supports adequate funding for education across the board and is willing to spend the money to achieve it.

he/she supports a woman's right to choose.

he/she supports decriminalizing or legalizing such things as prostitution, drugs, porno etc.

he/she supports strong environmental policies and green thought.

he/she supports equal marriage for any two consentual people who wish to get married.

he/she supports the use of diplomacy over knee-jerk military actions.

he/she supports respecting international norms, and edicts.

he/she is dedicated to expanding everyone's civil rights and human rights.

he/she supports health care for all Americans, and is willing to spend the money to achieve it.

he/she understands the concepts of fairness and justice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my view, a liberal is someone that:

Respects an inviduals right to make personal choices that affect their lives as long as it doesn't inhibit another person's ability to do the same. (Which is why believing that gay marriage is wrong/sinful is completely okay but taking action to inhibit a person from entering into a homosexual relationship is wrong)

Liberals respect life. They can advocate against the practice of abortion but do not believe it is their right to prevent a woman from making that choice. No criminal should be sentenced to death unless he or she requests that punishment as an addition/in place of their current punishment.

Liberals believe not in real economic equality for all, but equal economic opportunities for all. Inclusive in this are equal educational and healthcare opportunities, along with equal means to get your products/yourself to the market via high quality infrastructure. Government should regulate the economy to ensure that each individual has equal opportunities. Monopolies are inherently immoral and against the very tenants of liberalism.

Liberals believe that the disadvantaged should have a decent quality of life. People that would not otherwise survive without the help of others should not be required to resort to begging or seeking help from religious/charitable organizations that often provide assistance with conditions.

Liberals stress the individual as part of a community. The individual and community are an equal entity. You cannot have a successful individual without a supportive community and you cannot have a successful community without supportive individuals. There is often a misperception among self-described liberals that the community is more important (communism).

These communities come together to form a nation, hence our fifty states. The federal government is the most powerful entity as the combination of every individual in the country but should not legislate where states/communities could better or more efficiently provide services. Our road system is a good example of this. Highways that cross state borders should be funded and maintained by the federal government, inter-county roads by the state, inter-township roads by the county, etc down the line to where driveways to houses are maintained by the owner of the houses.

Of course there are some flaws to this, but I believe a true liberal is not a communitarian or a statist... but a system that champions individual freedom with a shared responsibility of looking out for your fellow man through the means of elected officials and laws.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here are some things that would make me think a candidate was a liberal:

he /she supports adequate funding for education across the board and is willing to spend the money to achieve it.

he/she supports a woman's right to choose.

he/she supports decriminalizing or legalizing such things as prostitution, drugs, porno etc.

he/she supports strong environmental policies and green thought.

he/she supports equal marriage for any two consentual people who wish to get married.

he/she supports the use of diplomacy over knee-jerk military actions.

he/she supports respecting international norms, and edicts.

he/she is dedicated to expanding everyone's civil rights and human rights.

he/she supports health care for all Americans, and is willing to spend the money to achieve it.

he/she understands the concepts of fairness and justice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And some things that would make me think a candidate was "liberal"......

he/she supports a system of progressive taxation on assets and income in an attempt to redistribute wealth under the illusion of fairness and justice

he/she supports greater government control in too many aspects of life, including the provision for cradle-to-grave entitlement

he/she seeks individual choice and self-expression over personal responsibility

he/she supports nonsensical and irrational gun control laws (knee-jerk), and seek to deny that MOST fundamental right to so many - the right of self-protection - the right that has protected every other right being discussed here - something our classically liberal founding fathers considered of the utmost importance and fundamental.

Want an interesting read on "conservative" vs. "liberal"? See this:

http://www.arthurbrooks.net/excerpt.html

In all reality, I think this is far tooooo generalized, and that goes down both sides. I don't know that liberals or conservatives truly even understand the others' thinking or ideology - a true liberal/conservative in the modern sense is an extreme on either side, and I personally don't think the stereotypes are helpful at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Traditionally, a classical liberal meant that someone was "open to change." What is now commonly perceived as "liberal" was originally called "progressivism." Progressivism is the desire to change policy to make the community/region/country/world a better place to live. That includes the idea of taking care of those who are less fortunate. The original meaning of conservatism was to conserve what the people who had whatever they wanted held as their values before things were made better for all of the people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Without a source for those statistics, this can't be interpreted. Statistics can be manipulated to say anything, and we know the author is coming from a conservative point of view. Perhaps conservatives donate more because they are more likely to be contributing members of a church. Perhaps charity is greater in red states to make up for the relative lack of government social programs. Perhaps it is the liberals in those red states (most of which are fairly evenly split) who contribute to such charities. Without more information, we have no way of knowing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Traditionally, a classical liberal meant that someone was "open to change." What is now commonly perceived as "liberal" was originally called "progressivism." Progressivism is the desire to change policy to make the community/region/country/world a better place to live. That includes the idea of taking care of those who are less fortunate. The original meaning of conservatism was to conserve what the people who had whatever they wanted held as their values before things were made better for all of the people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You are confining the term liberalism to a certain period of time. At the time, economic and personal freedom were steps forward from the previous autonomous/aristrocratic Monarchies that dominated in Europe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.