Monday, September 26, 2005

Look It Up

Conservative: adj. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

Liberal: adj. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.


Most of us would like to believe that both adjectives describe us, depending upon the situation. They are not mutually exclusive. We should strive to preserve that which works, and to try new things to remedy that which does not.

One of my favorite quotes which not so coincidentally occupies some space at the top of my blog is by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She said, “Seek truth for authority, not authority for truth.” I think this quote can help us to understand what attracts people to the “left” or the “right.” People on the “right” tend to trust authority. They like simple rules that are easy to follow. Gray areas make them uncomfortable. They like “strong leadership” and the discipline of religion. People on the “left” tend to mistrust authority. They want to ensure that what they are being told is the truth, that it can stand up to scrutiny. It’s no coincidence that religious fundamentalists, (in our country primarily “old testament Christians”) are attracted to the right side of the spectrum, and that “new testament Christians,” (but not the ones who believe in the cockamamie interpretation of Revelations!) agnostics, and atheists tend to be on the left side of the spectrum.

Seems obvious to me which is the superior philosophy. One uses critical thinking and reason to solve problems, and the other places its faith in authority figures and ancient unscientific, unsubstantiated doctrine. One professes that the truth and the unbridled search for truth need to be independent of agenda, while the other demonstrates that their agenda transcends truth when the truth contradicts their agenda. One holds that that truth is absolute and morality is relative, and the other holds that morality is absolute and that the truth is relative. Please note that I didn’t say the politicians live by these standards, because I think that the politicians on the left have historically been just as corrupt as those on the right. (I say historically because these renegade neo-cons that have hijacked the US government are in a class by themselves when it comes to political corruption. What would they not do?) It is the philosophy that I think is superior. When I vote, I vote for the doctrine, not the candidate.

Need I list the things that have been said about “liberals?” People have said so many ridiculous, outrageous, stupid, and false things about those on the left that many of us have said defensively, “I am NOT a liberal!” Well, I may not admit to being a liberal, but it isn’t because I’m ashamed. It is because I can’t live up to “Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.”

I also find it ironic that liberals are often decried as stupid and / or evil. Anyone else notice that most scientists, artists, scholars, writers, intellectuals and humanitarians are liberals? Indeed, would Buddah or Jesus or Ghandi be considered liberal or conservative if they lived in today's America and preached the same messages that they did in their day? I know it is anecdotal, but most self-described conservatives that I meet are either not very bright or exceedingly selfish, or religious to the point of the irrational. The problem is, stupid people don’t know that they are stupid, exceedingly selfish people don’t admit that they are selfish, often not even to themselves, and religious people are told that it is sinful to question what they are told. Or as John Stuart Mill once said, “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”

Here is what I want to know: If your politics lean to the right, do you trust Ted Kennedy or Michael Moore to tell me who you are and what it is that you believe? Well, then, why do you give any credence to what Rush Limbaugh or Tom DeLay say about what I believe?

If you want to know what I believe, why the hell don’t you ask me?


***
Etc.

This week's Top 10.

In case you are feeling a bit equivocal today, read this.

3 Comments:

Blogger XTCfan said...

Jesus! Did anyone else follow the video link on the Top 10 to the Smoking Gun archive? Dubya is definitely Drunkya in that clip. Look at the way he chews on his drink at the very end. That's alcohol or my name isn't George Jacob Jinglemeyer Schmitt. Only in America, indeed.

Nice post, Al.

5:14 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

>Jesus! Did anyone else follow the video link on the Top 10 to the Smoking Gun archive? Dubya is definitely Drunkya in that clip. Look at the way he chews on his drink at the very end. That's alcohol or my name isn't George Jacob Jinglemeyer Schmitt. Only in America, indeed.<

Imagine if they had dug something up like that about Clinton around the time of the Monica debacle?

5:47 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

You know, I hate labels, and so I don't like being called anything. I find it somewhat offensive, actually. Of course "idiot" and "lamebrain" and stuff like that are true, so they're not so offensive. But, by golly V., since you put it up straight from the dictionary, I guess I'm gonna have to start admitting I'm a...ugh..."liberal". Poor me. Good post, man.

7:25 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home