Liberal and Independent Viewpoints

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Liberal and Independent Viewpoints

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What it means to be a Liberal

Nathaniel Lapointe, Junior

If you look at the political labels people use, you’ll notice something interesting. More often than not, “liberal” is used as an insult. You hear conservatives denounce liberals, you see people complain about how stupid and disastrous liberalism is, and you often see people labeled as liberals, but you rarely see someone identify themselves as a liberal. Why is that?

It takes just a few seconds of searching to find accounts whose only content is memes about “liberal logic,” that make liberals out to be crazy people who care more about illegal immigrants, plastic straws, and demonizing America than reality. This straw man is sometimes a person’s only exposure to left-of-center beliefs, and if it is, then that’s what they think all liberals are actually like. Once, I heard someone voice a conservative political opinion, and when someone tried to explain why she disagreed, he just mockingly said “ooooh! A liberal!” and then disregarded what she had to say. That’s part of the attractiveness of the straw man; it allows you to think “well, that guy is making a good point, but he’s just a dumb liberal. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” If you have an easy mechanism to ignore what someone says if it doesn’t fit into your worldview, you’re going to hold to your worldview no matter what.

This is a shame because being closed-minded is always bad, but also because I firmly believe that liberalism is a force for good. To me, to be liberal is to try to live up to the ideas set by our founders. To be liberal means fighting for a more perfect Union like we promised to in the Preamble. To be liberal means fighting for liberty and justice for all, and it’s working. Liberalism is the reason that our modern world has so many freedoms and why our quality of life is the highest in history. Liberalism is why we’ll have the right to vote in a few years; why we have the right to follow whatever religion we want (including no religion), why I have the right to write this to express my opinion, and why anyone has the right to say that they disagree.

The founding of America was a liberal revolution, because our founders granted all male citizens the right to vote, guaranteed crucial freedoms in our supreme laws, and because our nation was founded on the idea that all men are created equal. It was a liberal president who freed the slaves, supported by those who believed that liberty ought to be a right for all men, not just those of one race. It was liberal activists who won women the right to vote, arguing that women have the same mental capacity as men and deserve equal rights. It was a liberal president and a liberal Congress who passed the Civil Rights Act, the most important piece of legislation ending segregation and ensuring that millions of people could and can enjoy the rights they are supposed to enjoy as Americans. It was the same liberal president behind the Voting Rights Act, which protects our right as citizens to vote on our leaders. It was the liberal justices of the Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage, and the list goes on and on.

Each and every one of these advances for freedom and steps towards a better America happened because liberals had the courage to stand up to the status quo. Each and every one of these steps towards liberty and justice for all happened because the conservatives; those who support the status quo, lost.

250 years ago, we declared that we were fighting a war for the Life, Liberty, and right of all citizens to pursue happiness. I am a liberal because I want to keep fighting for those ideals. I am a liberal because without liberalism, the world would be a very dark place, and most importantly, I’m a liberal because there is still work to do.

Why I Choose to be Independent

Letter to the Editor

When it comes to politics, I am not registered to any political party. I do not identify solely as a Republican, a Democrat, a Liberal, or a Conservative. I identify as ALL of these.

Like everyone, I have personal values that I hold very deep in my heart. I strongly believe in social justice and equality for everyone. I also strongly believe that the government in many cases is not as effective as private businesses in managing my money (i.e. taxes). In many cases, these two beliefs would not fall into any of the parties or ideologies referenced earlier.

I believe being unaffiliated allows me to more strongly express all of my beliefs independently rather than follow an outline of one particular group or system. This often comes with challenges morally and socially. Socially, people that do not identify with a group of any sort (politically, sports team, musical group, etc.) are often considered outsiders. It is difficult not to be part of a team. Politically, this spills into the voting world as well. Political candidates in recent history have been firmly rooted in the Democratic or Republican parties. As an unaffiliated voter, we do not have the right to vote in the primary elections of either party. This can be frustrating and ostracizing at times, but it is a small price to pay for the autonomy to vote or support the best candidates, policies, and opinions that matter the most to me, my family, my community, and my country.

Lastly, I cherish the fact that my beliefs about social and financial issues may be proven wrong at any moment. Simply, this forces me to speak with and listen to all opinions as I move through life forming my own path and opinions. In some ways, I equate being unaffiliated with simply a willingness to learn. Entering every situation with independent thought allows belief formation to occur more naturally than entering a situation with the backing of or within the context of a pre-existing ideology.

I am not suggesting that strongly held personal values should be forgotten every time a belief system is considered. In fact, I would argue that strong beliefs likely become stronger when considering them thoughtfully and respectfully with someone who holds an equally strong contrary belief.

I am an independent thinker and an unaffiliated voter because I don’t know everything. Nobody does. If someone suggests otherwise, they are lying. This position allows me to learn, grow and form a belief system that is important to me, not Fox News, CNN or politicians.