Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Do we adopt a label because of what we believe, or do we choose to believe what we do because we want to wear a certain label?

"Joseph," I hear you asking, "Where on earth did THAT come from and what's it got to do with anything?"

It's actually a question that any person of integrity has to ask him or herself in order to think of him/herself a a person of honor.

Some people seem to go about this "liberal/conservative" thing all wrong.

Here's what I mean.

One person grows up seeing influential people around him/her, decides that he/she want to be like them, discovers that those people are "liberals" and therefore call him/herself "liberal."

Others have certain beliefs and ideas, discover that they are "liberal" ideas and adopt them, thus becoming "liberals."

Still others see that there are two choices, "liberal" and "conservative," have no real idea what either of the terms mean, but hear more good things about "liberals" so they decide they want to be one. They therefore adopt the ideas that will identify themselves as "liberals."

One can take each of those instances and apply them to "conservative" and come up with the same ending.

"So?" you ask.

So there are a lot of liberals in the world who aren't really liberals but have adopted liberal characteristics so they can fit the label.

There a lot of conservatives, on the other hand, who aren't really conservatives but have adopted conservative characteristics so they can fit that label.

When I was in college (a sophomore, as a matter of fact...about intellectually where President BO is today), I thought putting labels on people was undesirable. I thought that because I thought it was undesirable to label people that I was somehow more humane than my friends who DID put labels on people. I also thought, therefore, that I was more intellectual than my college mates.

Boy was I wrong!

It turns out that we NEED labels in order to know how to relate to each other.

A boss is labeled "boss" because that's the way we identify the status of the person in charge of us as we work at our jobs. If we don't have a boss, or don't know which of those around us IS the boss, we lose the context in which to do our work.

The labels "liberal" and "conservative" are supposed to be descriptive of a set of principles to which we hold, or do not hold in our lives.

The confusion comes when people screw up the principles until they are either unrecognizable, inconsistent with their actual beliefs and ideas or the just pretend to be something they are not.

For instance, RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) pretend to be Republicans, but exhibit many of the characteristics of Democrats, thus diminishing the meaning of the word "Republican."

The same can be said for DINOs (Democrats In Name Only).

Personally, I think there is no room in the Republican Party for RINOs, and I am sure there are Democrats who have no room in their hearts (or their Party) for DINOs.

If each person would just be intellectually and philosophically honest he/she would be who he/she is without regard to label and let the labels be assigned to them in relation to their beliefs and ideas.

There are too many Republicans who live in districts in which they could not get elected as a Democrat, therefore run as a Republican and act like a Democrat when they get in office.

Vice Versa, I'm sure.

If this trend continues much longer, the lines between "Democrats" and "Republicans" will become so blurred that there won't be a dime's difference between them and it won't matter which one gets elected.

Right now, though, it DOES matter.

In fact, we are reaping the devastation brought on by people who were elected to office as one thing who turned out to be another.

Both George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama fall into this category.

I am appalled at some of the decisions made by the Bush administration, especially in the last eight or nine months of his presidency. I am equally appalled at much of what has been proposed by the Obama administration in the first year of HIS presidency.

I hold to certain beliefs, ideas and, yes, ideals that properly identify me as a conservative.

I held most of those ideals long before I even knew what a conservative was.

As I grew older, I began to fine tune what I believed until I got to where I am today.

I believe in the Constitution as the "rule book" for the federal government, and I believe that it provides that the federal government be restricted to certain activities carefully and properly defined in its pages.

I believe in a respect for human life, before birth, after birth, during life and at the end of life.

I believe that deep in the heart of every human being is a yearning to act as a free man/woman, and to be able to make reasonable and informed choices about his/her life.

I believe that a person is responsible for his/her own actions, decisions and for the consequences of those actions.

I believe that every person should have an equal opportunity to be what he/she wants to be within his/her abilities and willingness to work.

I do not believe that you have any responsibility for my life unless I am physically and/or mentally incapable of living it on my own.

I believe that any person should be able to rise as high (or remain as low) as he/she wishes, without penalty, so long as he/she works to get there and does not cause harm to others while on the trip up.

I believe that the federal government should stay out of peoples lives, stay out of corporations' business and stay out of states' affairs.

There are a lot more beliefs to which I subscribe, but you get the idea.

The result of my beliefs is that I am labeled "conservative," vilified by some, ridiculed by others, threatened by a few and hated by those who profess tolerance and love for all.

In my life, and I hope in yours as well, my beliefs came before my label.

That's as it should be.

As to which label you should wear to be a "good" American...well, that's a topic for another post.


Tom said...

That's an interesting post. Everyone is guilty of casting too-wide a net with certain labels, but as you pointed out, they are a necessity in some cases in order to form a frame of reference for a thing.

I think the problem comes when people ascribe characteristics to a label which does not fairly represent it. This is why some Liberals prefer to use the term "progressive". The "Liberal" term took a beating for quite a while via mischaracterizations of the policy aims.

I try not to get too caught up in how I term myself because while I subscrive to the braoder viewpoints of "Liberalism", I also have my own subset of beliefs on what that term means. It's a bit different different than what other Liberals think, and that's fine. We argue the policy, and that's good enough.

This might surprise you, but as a raging Liberal, I pretty much agree 100% with your "I believe..." points. The difference is in the policy objectives that get you to the goal of your "I believe..." statements.

Joe said...

Tom: You are quite right about casting too broad a net.

I would disagree with the use of the word "progressive" as it has come to be a term that does not describe what the majority of it adherents believe, which is not progress, per se, but a disguised version of extreme, left-wingism bordering on socialism and/or fascism.

The classical term "liberal" would have applied to John F. Kennedy, with whom I disagreed on many points, but with whom I agreed on quite a few.

Today, both "liberal" and "progressive" have come to be identified with people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Charlie Rangel, Chris Dodd, Maxine Waters, Ted Kennedy, and, yes, Barack Obama, none of whose policies I can believe a single American can really agree with. I am obviously wrong about that...seemingly quite a few do.

But I think there is a huge number of people who have no idea whether they are "liberal" or "conservative," they just know they want the government to pay for everything they possibly can get them to like: their food; their home; their transportation; their entertainment and their health.

I don't believe the government should pay for any of those things EXCEPT when a person is physically or mentally unable to earn them him/herself. Even then, I believe family and church should help with those things before the government gets involved.

Government's job is not to provide things for people, but to provide the opportunity for people to persue the things they want via the vehicles of freedom and responsibility.