Saturday, August 11, 2007

JMO - Being a liberal

I am a liberal. A 1960's liberal. It's my view of the world, and I am not ashamed to say it. And I am not a democrat or a republican. I make my political decisions based on the issues, and in general I have an old-fashioned liberal view of things, but only when it's appropriate. I have this liberal view on many issues, but will moderate it in the face of reality and pragmatism, and take the view that anything done should be fair and/or equal for the benefit of every citizen.

And where am I a liberal and where not?

On some issues, such as human rights, equal rights, wilderness, environmental protection, education, healthcare, employment and employee rights, national security, international diplomacy, and the role of government in and for the interest of the people and nation, I am an unabashed liberal. It is the role of government to provide for all these things, and it's the role of the citizens to ensure the government has the resources to do this.

And the money is where I'm a fiscal conservative. You can't tax people to death, but the people need to understand that public services cost money. It is the role of citizen to pay appropriate taxes for their income. That said, I don't have a problem with the progressive income tax. And I'm whole heartedly for corporate taxes for any corporation doing business in this country, whether or not they are a registered here. This avoids the situation of corporations being based in foreign countries to avoid taxes. If you earn corporate income here, you pay the government.

And then there are issues where I'm a libertarian. I believe in individual responsibility. This isn't in discord with my other values, it's just that each of us have the responsibility to be good citizens when and where know that we are responsible for our action and we accept the consequenes of those actions, especially if others are hurt or their freedoms inhibited. We have to recognize and honor our role and that role in and with the many.

For instance? Abortion. I have a simple view of some issues, and this is one. It's about the matter of equal opportunity to all choices, and in the case of a woman's reproductive rights, the decision if a woman wants to carry a pregnancy to term or have an abortion is between her and her physician. No one else has rights to interfer with her rights to information and choices, and her right to decide and act. Not even the father.

I am angry to see people, especially men, who argue for government out of people lives and for individual responsibility about taxes, property rights, firearms, and so on, but then decide their personal values on abortion supercede the rights of women to control their bodies and reproductive rights. This is hypocritical and wrong.

And? Wilderness. I believe we have the obligation to preserve some primative lands that hasn't been significantly, and preferably not, effected by man. That's obvious and commonly viewed by many. But I go one step farther and believe we should keep people out of some areas to ensure they are true wilderness. Which means it's not possible in the lower US except in a few isolated places, but it can be done in Alaska. Yes, let's lock some areas away where there are no permits for access. True wilderness before man.

Back to the point. Does this make me weak on national defense or security? No, because you see, being a liberal also means protecting the nation from threats. But different than the shoot first advocates, I think we only shoot when it's clear who is the enemy and who actually attacked us. Then I'm support the fighting any war against them and on terrorism? We need to be selective and focus on protecting this country than being the world's cop on terrorists.

I believe we should have focused on Afghanistan, but only after we had exhausted all options of international diplomacy - but this doesn't exclude any covert activities - and thought through all the choices where we won't get mired into a long occupancy, civil war, or unpopular government of a foreign nation. We have to ensure whatever countries we fight, we do it for good reason and with the appropriate force, and importantly, we the acceptance of the international community. After all we're just one country in this world, and only 5% of its population.

And so in the end, I'm simply a patriot, but one who believes in human and civil rights and liberties, and it's the government role to provide and secure these rights and liberties. It's our obligation to pay for it as good citizens. And that's my definition of being a liberal.

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