April 2006

Yes, I'm a liberal, and proud of it

By Galen Larson

It’s getting somewhat trying of late to be labeled by people who are ignorant of the meaning of words. Take “liberal,” a word bandied about by some folks who it seems have never opened a dictionary. When one becomes aware of the meaning of liberal one should be proud to be addressed as such instead of considering it an insult.

The same is true of the word “conservative.” Some people toss it around like it is a term implying nobility or righteousness. Look in the dictionary, however, and it is relegated to a few short phrases, none of which touch on any religious faith. Nor does it pertain to any vision of the future. Instead, “conservative” means to more or less be in lock step with the existing authority — disposed to maintain existing institutions or views; opposed to change; within safe bounds; favoring the conservation of existing institutions and forms of government.

Liberal, on the other hand, has many meanings, all of which seem pretty positive. Befitting a man of free birth, not restricted. Bestowing in a large and noble way, generous. Not narrow or contracted in mind; broad-minded; not bound by orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion.

Which would you rather be?

For years conservatives have worked to make sure that everyone shudders at the term liberal. Now, though, conservatives are growing uneasy about their own monicker, as they seek to distance themselves from President Bush, whom they once embraced as one of their own. Now that his policies on every front are proving to be failures, conservatives are claiming that Bush isn’t truly one of them, never was, in fact.

A new book written by a selfdescribed Reaganite conservative and lifelong Republican goes even further. Entitled, “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy” by Bruce Bartlett, it is one of the most hilarious things I have ever read. The author claims (horror of horrors!) that Bush and his cohorts are not only not conservatives, they are liberals!

Please pick me up when I fall down laughing. What great lengths the conservatives will go to to put distance between themselves and their glorious leaders, Bush, Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld! It’s to the point where one almost has to feel a bit of liberal compassion for Boy George and his cronies.

All these supportive buddies who patted him on the back and bought him drinks and gave out many “atta boy, you can do no wrong” statements are now jumping ship. One has to be proud of friends like that!

I do feel a tinge of compassion for the Shrub, but maybe I’m not as good a liberal as I should be, because a true liberal has compassion for all mankind, and I don’t really have much for these conservatives who elected Bush and now shun him. (Who was it who said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they have done?” Was he conservative or liberal?)

If the behavior of the Bush administration or its former supporters is conservative, then that is the word that ought to be the true insult.

Now that you know the meanings of both words, I hope you’ll understand when I thank you for the compliment if you label me a liberal.

Galen Larson is a Montezuma County landowner.