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Published:March 11th, 2006 04:03 EST
What is a Liberal?

What is a Liberal?

By Woo Lyou

A few days ago, someone tried to insult me by calling me a liberal ".  He must have thought being a liberal was a bad thing.

This got me thinking: what is a liberal ", anyway?  In addition, why is it bad?

I am from Washington State, where people protest often.  This past winter break, I was at the University of Washington district to catch up with some high school friends.  I spotted protesters from afar.

They held pickets that said, Women Have the Right to choose, " and , Get out of Our Wombs ".  I thought it was courageous of the protestors to stand up for their beliefs.  I looked at them for a little while, but soon continued on my way.  Suddenly, I was bludgeoned by a wave of confusion.  I thought liberals also opposed the death penalty.  In addition, whale poaching.  In addition, cutting down trees.

It is interesting that people who want to save the lives of criminals, marine animals, and plants want to end the lives of innocent babies.  It seems, therefore, that the problem with the liberals is their inconsistency.

Things are not so bright on the other side of the spectrum, either.  Conservatives, who attend church every Sunday to thank Jesus for his sacrifice and pacifism, often do not hesitate to go to war, because it is in their best national interest ".  Jesus preached to turn the other cheek, did he not?  Further, the same people who believe in traditional family values also deny that same family " to homos*xuals.  Apparently, the right is not so consistent, either.

However, they are not really being inconsistent.  Of course, being pro-choice is reconcilable with opposition to whale poaching, because the rationales behind the two positions are unrelated.  The former deals with the question of whether women have the right to decide the life of their unborn children, whereas whale poaching does not deal with a right, but with the question of values " which is more valuable, the economic benefits of killing whales or the ecosystem?  Similarly, it is not inconsistent for a Christian to be pro-war " after all, Jesus did teach to punish evil.  Thus, every stance on every issue has a reasonable logic behind it.  Some positions may be less beneficial or less feasible than others may, but no position is groundless.

Each political issue, therefore, is only indirectly and loosely related to another.  Therefore, it is not illogical for an individual to hold two seemingly conflicting viewpoints.  For instance, a conservative may oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for religious reasons, and a liberal may support it because he is focusing on getting a job after the Bush recession.  Such individuals are neither liberal nor conservative.  They are simply being rational.

In fact, holding seemingly conflicting views is less of a potential problem than holding overly consistent views.  One who embraces the latter approach usually has no mind of one`s own.

Multiple factors determine an individual`s political views (e.g. race, gender, religion, life experiences, personal knowledge, etc.).  No two people can have an identical combination of these factors.  Therefore, no two people can have identical interests or identical beliefs.  The result is a unique combination of political beliefs for each individual in a given society.

Thus, someone who always agrees with one ideology while always disagreeing with the other is unlikely to have examined the issues carefully.  This type of blind faith in one side and distrust of the other can result in a society that resembles Germany during the 1940s. Therefore, it is necessary for individuals to carefully consider each issue separately.

I have found that both the left and the right have faults and merits.  I am not a true liberal, because I acknowledge that neither side is perfect.  Even if I were a true liberal, I would only be a bad one if I were blindly adhering to the liberal ideology without careful review.

Next time, anyone intending to insult me should yell, You have not thought about the issues! "  That would offend me far more than being called a liberal. 

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