Yes, I am a liberal. But like the vast majority of liberals, I do not
conform to the extreme stereotype plastered onto us by the political opposition.
For example, I don't think a drug test constitutes an invasion of privacy if your job affects the safety of others, and I don't worry overmuch about whether prisoners have gym equipment and big-screen TVs.
Like nearly all other liberals, I respect the spiritual beliefs of others, so long as they don't try to force their religious principles on me through the political process. This includes the prejudices of those religions that think God has told them to discriminate against certain kinds of people. We liberals have a bumper sticker for them: "Hate is not a family value."
Despite traditional rightwing rhetoric, I do not want "big government," and I don't know any liberal who does. We proved this during the Clinton administration, when we actually balanced the budget and created a surplus.
What most liberals actually want is a government that recognizes our responsibility, as a rich and fortunate nation, to treat our own citizens humanely. Again, contrary to popular rhetoric, this does not
mean "using our tax money to support people who are too lazy to work." It means supporting those who cannot find work, who are physically unable to work, or who suffer such mental incapacity as to be unfit for work. (The mentally ill, by the way, should be treated
-- not allowed to become homeless, criminal, and/or dangerous.)
Treating Americans humanely also means ensuring that anyone who works full-time in America, however humble the job, will be paid enough to live a reasonably safe and decent life that includes reliable daycare for their children. We liberals don't think that's too much to ask... and we also think it would go a long, long way in reducing crime.
Another thing: I don't know any liberals who actually want to fling open the borders and invite the whole world in to receive welfare and food stamps and Medicaid. But neither do we want to treat our fellow man inhumanely just because he is not an American citizen. There is a happy medium, and we need to establish it.
Although conservatives like to pretend that being liberal means chaining yourself to a tree in defense of some rare species of nematode, the truth is that the great majority of liberals support the wisely-managed use of renewable natural resources, and a phased move away from those that are not renewable. The past several years make it obvious that this is the only intelligent course of action -- even Republicans are starting to accept it.
So yes, I am a liberal -- but that label doesn't mean what most "conservatives" seem to think it does. That's one of the problems with a two-party system... it tends to polarize, and all the truths that reside in the shades of grey get distorted.
Thank you, Nausicaa, for giving me a post that I absolutely had to respond to this morning. Last night, I was so upset about another exchange I'd had that I was going to just stop posting altogether and become a lurker... but this has shown me that if I'm going to be here on TCS at all, I'm going to have to participate.