Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
I do not understand why "Liberal" has become a dirty word in the mouths of politicians who desire to win the hearts of voters. I do not understand why liberals let them make "liberalism" a negative concept. Liberalism which shares its root with the word "liberty" is a term that is at the core of American values. Our nation is founded on the principles of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and "liberty and justice for all."
Liberal leaders and politicians have worked for and gained for our citizens Insured Bank Deposits, Social Security, Minimum Wage, Unemployment Insurance, the Voting Rights Act, Equal Employment Opportunity, the Civil Rights Act, the Peace Corps, Medicare and Medicaid, the GI Bill, the Freedom of Information Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a long list of environmental protections. At the center of liberal philosophy is the desire to make society more fair and just and to improve the security and quality of life for all people.
Most Americans are generous, tolerant and optimistic people. The liberal philosophy is the natural expression of the spirit upon which our country began and progressed. It is an insult to our political traditions to now use "liberal" to mean someone who is against the interests of mainstream American values. It is also wrong, and demonstrates a denial of our history. The vast majority of people who have dedicated their life's work to helping others are "liberals." This includes those who work for the rights and well-being of children, the poor and the elderly, civil service employees, teachers, care givers, and the many who toil daily to keep our country working.
At the root of the word "conservative" is the idea of conserving. Why, then, are most conservationists "liberal?" At the same time current conservative politicians have eagerly reversed or simply let languish many of the policies that would protect and preserve our environmental quality. Conservatives want to conserve money. Why, then, have the current conservative politicians turned a budget surplus inherited from a liberal administration into a ballooning deficit? Conservatives want to preserve family values. Why, then, do current conservative politicians oppose reforming medical insurance so that it may become affordable for families? When more Americans live in poverty and fewer can afford the basics such as medical insurance, the value of conserving strong families so they can have life, liberty and happiness is undermined.
President Franklin Roosevelt, a great liberal leader, stated, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." This philosophy is in tune with the spirit that made our country great and helped us pull through periods of crisis. From the time of the early settlers our country was built by cooperation and helping others in our communities. When people's basic needs were met they could be more effective participants in our society. Economic security is the basis of optimism and clearly the catalyst for creating and making the most of opportunity. We have always chosen to invest in children, yet children are the majority of the poor in America.
do not understand why "liberals" do not boast of the virtues
produced by liberalism throughout history. It is true that liberals
do not tend to be selfish or aggressive, but a bit of righteous indignation
would be in order to wipe away the misconceptions of those who use smear
and fear to make "liberal" a dirty word.
© 2004 Richard Sidy