Friday, May 25, 2012
Last week, I gave all of you (Yes, YOU!) a taste of my opinion about the political parties
in the US. Today, you get the flip side of it. I am going to go into what a "Liberal" political party should probably be doing. And comparing that to what our current brand of "Liberal" is actually doing.
Now, let's start off with the same copypasta as we did last time:
[lib-er-uhl, lib-ruhl] Show IPA
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2. ( often initial capital letter ) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible,
especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal
belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and
7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8. open-minded or tolerant, especially free of or not bound by traditional or conventional
ideas, values, etc.
9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.
14. a person of liberal principles or views, especially in politics or religion.
15. ( often initial capital letter ) a member of a liberal party in politics, especially of
the Liberal party in Great Britain.
Wow. That is a long "definition" for the word. We could make "Liberal" into a lot of things. For the purpose of this blog post, please ignore numbers 2, 3, 6, 12, 13, 14, and 15. From this dictionary.com definition, it seems that "liberal", generally, means to be open and tolerant. Though, personally, I prefer the first one. "Favorable to progress or reform". I like that.
Let's start by rambling on about how liberal our "Liberal" party may be. This party has long espoused the idea that people should have the rights that everyone else does. It doesn't matter if you are white, black, yellow, orange, male, female, transsexual or asexual. There are rights that our Constitution guarantees and those rights should be extended to ALL citizens. Now, that sounds like a really good thing. But what else do they stand for? Do they hope to get all of us to follow a religion? No. Do we all need to give up our lives and let the government dictate what we can do for a living? No. So, what do they stand for?
That last question is something that has crossed my mind and settled in as some unanswerable quandary. I can't think of any specific thing the entire party stands on. Other than, "Our country isn't perfect. Let's try to fix it." I don't just mean this for their campaigning. Every two years they seem to have a bunch of individuals who carry the Party Tag(tm), but very few issues that all of them seem to agree on. This is in stark contrast to the "Conservative" party. And this, in my not-so-humble opinion, makes it harder to hold them to task for not following their word. While I like people who are flexible, the purpose of a party is to bring people of a similar outlook together, and to help pool
resources to get them into office. About the only thing they all agree on is that they are not "Conservative". And that just doesn't ring true when you look at what they are known for doing.
In the last few years, we have had very few policy changes that have hit the national news. Well, to my knowledge. These issues are simple: Health care reform. The Bush tax breaks came up for renewal. SOPA/PIPA. Wait, have others hit the national discussion? Because they seem to have slipped below my radar. So, let's take a look at what the "Liberal" party has done in these three cases.
Health care reform. Something that all of the candidates in 2008 touched on in one form or another. It was a major issue that our current president brought up, and who made it a priority after he was voted into office. We can look at this from both sides, liberal and conservative. Please note, I am not capitalizing those words. It is a project that required a bit of ambition. And writing new laws rather than just modifying existing ones to make it work. It seems to be a very liberal project. And one designed to have a lasting and progressive effect on our country. However, a standard "Conservative" value is to protect existing policies. Such as Medicare. Which is, wait.. is it health care from the government? And it is 10x more efficient than privatized health insurance? Hmm. From an economic perspective, this might seem to be a conservative idea. One that is designed to keep people healthy and working, while cutting down the costs associated with it. However, it is a very loose interpretation to call it conservative, so I won't be so liberal as to call it that. +1 liberal to the Liberal Party for trying to get this project up and running. Yes, I said try. They failed miserably at setting up anything other than mandating that everyone buys into the current privatized health insurance scheme.
Now, this issue almost managed to shut down our government. The next major issue that crossed my radar was the Bush tax cuts coming up for renewal. In this, the Liberal Party put forth the radical idea that those who could still afford to have their taxes raised should no longer benefit from these tax cuts that have made it so difficult for our country to meet its budgeting needs. Now, let us remember the definition of conservative from last week. To keep the same or return to a previous state. This would seem to be a very conservative idea. To keep those who are barely making due at the current rates, and rolling back the rates of those who can afford to lose a little more of their pay check every month. No real changes to existing tax code. No huge shifts in how things are being handled. And, heck, with all the loopholes.. very few "rich" people would end up paying more anyway. But they had to fight tooth and nail to try to get this done. And caved rather than letting the government shut down completely. Kudos to them for doing the conservative thing and preserving the status quo rather than shaking things up. Wait, the conservative thing? Weren't they the "Liberal" party?
While I don't believe that complete shut down or dismantling of our government is a good idea, these "Liberal" politicians need to learn how to push for change. And how to shape the national discourse so that truly progressive ideas may be considered again. This country is a bit messed up! But the only folks willing to change it seem to be in it for the wrong reasons. Now, where were we? Oh, right.
SOPA/PIPA. The third topic that has crossed my radar in the last four years. This beautiful piece of legislation was almost passed, with plenty of support from both sides of the aisle. I'm not sure I can be proud of that, given how liberal it was with expanding the rights of companies. No, I didn't say copyright holders. I said companies. But copyright is something I'll get into another week. I can understand this being liberal in favor of companies. But how does this help support and expand the personal liberties of everyone who lives in this country? Does it support their general concept of helping improve the average person's life? I don't think so. It had the potential to stifle the spirit of anyone that tried to compete with the major companies. Companies who, generally, have enough lawyers on staff that taking them to court isn't worth it. While the implementation of this law seems to have a very liberal bent, I would have to classify it as a conservative endeavor. Something that tries to support and strengthen what IS at the expense of what might be.
Our Liberal Party may be willing to say that they stand for everyone. And, for the most part, they follow through on it. Offering up legislation that would expand the rights of those who are having issues. Or trying to find ways of evening the tax burden across all of our wonderful citizens. However, they fail miserably at the standing part. Time and again they give up any advantages they might have had to try to get concessions from their Conservative Party fellows. And they are being taken advantage for it. I sincerely hope they can find a few members who are willing to stand up and say, publicly, that they are looking for actual debates with their opposites on the political spectrum. But I do not have faith that such a thing will happen in my life time.
Tune in next week for something slightly less political.