I recently signed myself on to Facebook in order to feel as though I have some human contact beyond my wife. (I don't need to actually hang out with people and spend time with them! I talk to them online!) One of the sections for the profile section asks for your political leanings. I hate questions like that, so I put that I'm a member of the Whig Party.
I hate political labels. I see a lot of people either put down a political party or the words "liberal" or "conservative." Well, I'm not gung-ho enough about any political party to want to identify myself. Also, I feel as though the words liberal and conservative have pretty much lost all their meaning. After all, people who are supposedly "conservative" have managed to turn the word "liberal" into an insult, where all they have to do is throw that word out and their opponent is automatically demonized without the issue at hand actually being examined.
So, what am I then? Let's look at some basic issues. I'm pro-choice. I'm against the death penalty. I support same-sex marriage. I'm extremely opposed to teaching Intelligent Design in a science classroom. I'm against the War in Iraq. I believe that human activity has an impact on climate change.
Damn...kinda makes me sound like a liberal, doesn't it? Still, I don't want to use that word. Even though I covered a lot of issues there, I don't really feel as though these things really explain who I am or how I feel. For example, when people who support the death penalty say to me, "If you murder somebody, then you've given up your right to live." my reaction is that I completely agree with them. However, I don't trust the government to carry out capital punishment.
Regarding abortion, I wrote a whole blog entry on that. The funny thing is, a conservative blogger friend of mine wrote one some time before I wrote mine, and while he identified himself as being against abortion, we really weren't that far away from one another as to how we saw the issue.
How about the Intelligent Design issue? How is it "liberal" to oppose this? I believe that science classes need to focus on theories that meet the scientific method. ID clearly does not. Also, proponents of the ID movement have been proven to be liars (or grossly ignorant - take your pick) when it comes to what they say about evolution. For me, I think that it's a rather conservative sense of right and wrong that makes me oppose this sort of nonsense. It would be liberal to allow every crackpot idea into a science classroom, if we're actually using the actual definition of these words.
Then there's same-sex marriage. This is probably seen by many people who identify themselves as conservative as the numero uno litmus test as to whether you're a liberal or not. I see my support of allowing same-sex marriage as intrinsically connected with my desire to not be an asshole. (And is there any other word for these people who now want to amend the constitution of California? All this effort to stop something that doesn't hurt you in any way, shape, or form? Asshole!!!!!!)
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that I feel the way I do about these issues because I have weighed the evidence and made my decision. I'm also willing to have my mind changed on any one of these issues, but so far I keep hearing the same lame arguments over and over again. It's not that when a new issue comes along, I wait until I find out what the "liberal" side of the issue is and then make up my mind accordingly. I also don't wait to hear what some ill-informed pundit has to say. I might consider and weigh the opinions of people whom I respect, but there isn't anybody out there whom I feel that I agree with on everything.
So, am I a liberal? Maybe I am. In all honesty though, that word has no meaning to me.