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If you have any respect for my feelings, avoid the use of the "L" word. I'd appreciate it.

Don’t Call Me Liberal

I’m the first to admit that my views are tainted by my heritage. My parents were dyed-in-the-wool socialists. My father was National Secretary of the CCF., the forerunner of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Canada’s social democratic political party.

Yes, that would be socialists, not communists however, so lets not confuse the issue, because there’s a huge difference. In fact, my father and his contemporaries made it their policy in the late ’50s to ensure there were no communists in their party. This was just after the public revelations of the excess of Stalinism, and communism was nose-diving in popularity amongst intellectual socialists. Their witch-hunts probably made McCarthy’s look tame by comparison.

Like they say, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. So for me, the idea of government intervention was never the anathema that it is for some others. It’s not just because I’m a socialist pinko Canadian that I hold these views, because I believe things that most Canadians don’t, like nationalizing insurance companies to regulate an industry that’s out of control. For people who don’t like the idea of government-run health insurance, I’m sure that will go over like a ton of bricks.

I don’t mind when people call me a socialist, that’s what I am. What gets under my skin though is when people call me a liberal. No, I don’t mean as in the political party, which is with a capital L anyway, I mean as in the wishy-washy, let’s not offend anyone, form of political thinking.

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I’ve grown older and wiser
And that’s why I’m turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal
. — Phil Ochs, “Love Me, Love Me, I’m A Liberal”

How can you spot a liberal, what are their distinguishing features? Well they all “have best friends” who are a minority, but you never see them at their house for dinner. They also support neighbourhood intergration and bussing but not for their kids or their neighbourhood. They think Bill Cosby is the height of radical humour but Chris Rock is dangerous and subversive.

A liberal will see nothing wrong with being a member in an “exclusive”club (meaning one that excludes people based on colour, religion etc) because wouldn’t they be more comfortable among their own kind? A liberal’s idea of being an environmentalist is once a year having a company barbecue to clean up a park, but can’t understand what all the fuss is about driving themselves to work downtown in their pickup truck.

Liberals think that homelessness is a shame, but will support ordinances to have the police routinely sweep the streets to remove those nasty panhandlers. Marajuana is dangerous, but there is nothing wrong with having three martinis when you come home from work, just to relax after a hard day.

Liberals watch PBS and read the Washington Post or the New York Times and make snarky comments about those who don’t, because “how else are you going to know what’s going on in the world”. Liberals don’t know much about art, but know what they like, usually what goes with their furniture or Martha Stwert original paint job.

A liberal will sit behind the fence of their gated community and tsk tsk about the increased crime rate in the inner cities. “Something must be done about it”. “Why doesn’t anybody do anything about it”?, then shake their heads and reach for the martini pitcher.

Liberals can best be identified by their inability to do anything concrete in the way of social change. Unlike either radical conservatives, or those on the other end of the spectrum, who go out and fight for what they believe in, liberals just don’t have the convictions that provide motivation to do anything.

They are ideal citizens who don’t rock the boat. They would never dream of demonstrating one way or another for a cause, they may send a donation but that’s about it.

I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I’ll send all the money you ask for
But don’t ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal
— Phil Ochs, “Love me, Love me, I’m a Liberal”

Don’t get me wrong. I like Pete Seeger, but then I believe in what he’s singing about, and don’t think of them as just nice songs. If you can salve your conscience by singing a few songs and sending a donation than I feel sorry for you.

I know that I’m probably old fasioned and conservative in my views on matters like these, but the whole idea of lumping all of us lefties under the heading of liberals just doesn’t sit right with me. Please, in the future, when picking derogatory terms to call me, if you have any respect for my feelings, avoid the use of the “L” word. I’d appreciate it.

Ed/Pub:LisaM

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.

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