Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: The definition of liberalism

Both my loyal readers know that I’ve spent most of my time as an elected official in the middle (conservative and liberal) of the political road.  However, once you scrape all the fertilizer away I’m one of those bleeding heart liberals that the conservatives have been excoriating for the past few years.

So let’s start with the Wikipedia definition of Liberalism – the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and freedom of religion. Liberals believe in freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief and expression and are favorable to progress and reform in political or religious affairs.

According to the same source, Conservatives, on the other hand, are disposed to preserve existing conditions or institutions or restoring traditional ones and limiting change and innovation. Conservatives are noted for their conformance and their reluctance to change.

We’re fortunate in this country that the rubs between being conservative and liberal have a tendency to balance each other. This sense serves us well as long as we common folk listen to both sides of any given issue and don’t allow ourselves to get smothered by one-sided political rhetoric. Such is not the case today as indeed we liberals have been villainized by Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Evangelicals, Fox News and a raft of other lopsided talk show hosts that dominate today’s media with their manically conservative side of every issue.  (It’s interesting to note here that surveys have shown those who watch Fox News know less about the news than those who don’t watch the news at all). These conservatives garnered their dominance in the media by outlandishly blaming liberals for anything that’s ever gone wrong in history. They’ve rewritten history and twisted the facts to the point that they’ve convinced their followers that even God is only on their conservative side while labeling liberals as Godless… what an insult! God only cares about conservatives and their God is the only true God thus follow them or go to hell?

Re-read the definitions… we liberals try to respect each individual’s personal belief and their right to expression… this seems to be much closer to the Golden Rule than the conservative approach of “It is what it is” and don’t you dare try to change it. Conservatives fought to preserve such wonderful traditions as the inquisitions, slavery, forced child labor. They opposed Medicare, Worker’s Comp, Medicaid, Social Security as socialistic ideas, and their free market principles have always held that profit should trump people. While our conservative southern neighbors fought for segregation we northern liberals were praying for integration (just ask Ben Dove, my minister). While conservative “hawks” were conscripting my friends to feed their military industrial partnership in Vietnam, we liberal “doves” were protesting and rioting… because we understood that the communist threat really wasn’t as big of a threat to the Vietnamese as it was to American business interests. All the Viet Cong wanted was their own freedom while the conservatives told us to love America or leave it… I could go on.

Contrary to what the conservatives are trying to pummel into our social order, their way is not the only way… and those who disagree are not evil or Godless. Maybe our conservative friends need to actually read the whole story of their Christian Master who told us to love one another not pummel each other. As I recall, it was the conservative Sadducees and Pharisee priests had Jesus hung on a cross because he tipped over the tables in their temple.

It seems to me that most of the world’s religions are telling us mortals that the pathway to God involves trying to leave this place better off than we found it by treating others as we want to be treated… there are thus all sorts of ways to get to God… not just the conservative way.

Here’s hoping that when you do get to God he was happy that he sent you here in the first place… and so much for hiding my bleeding heart…