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What Does it Mean to Be a Liberal?Follow

#1 Jul 31 2012 at 6:52 AM Rating: Good
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There will a be a radio discussion program asking this question today at 12:15 on mpbn.net. HERE

One Economist's view.

What does it mean to you to be liberal or to be a liberal?
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#2 Jul 31 2012 at 7:13 AM Rating: Good
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To be revealed as one through cluster analysis, having falling within range of a set of ever changing values. So largely meaningless.

The list looks like it's attempting to retroactively invent fundamental propositions based on current liberal stances.

Edited, Jul 31st 2012 8:15am by Allegory
#3 Jul 31 2012 at 7:38 AM Rating: Good
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Allegory wrote:


The list looks like it's attempting to retroactively invent fundamental propositions based on current liberal stances.

Well the list is from 2006.

I've thought about this question a bit this morning. I've only come up with some stuff it's not. I'm not sure that I'm a 'liberal' by any defined standard, though I surely come down on the liberal side of politics in most issues.

It's NOT simply the opposite of conservatism.
It's NOT socialism.

Here is Dictionary.com's definition:
Quote:
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2. ( often initial capital letter ) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
I think we throw a lot of democratic traits into the term liberalism.
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#4 Jul 31 2012 at 7:39 AM Rating: Good
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#5 Jul 31 2012 at 7:43 AM Rating: Good
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It's living outside of reality.

Reality bites.
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#6 Jul 31 2012 at 7:54 AM Rating: Excellent
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Uglysasquatch wrote:
It's living outside of reality.

gbaji's a raging liberal? Who knew?
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#7 Jul 31 2012 at 10:10 AM Rating: Good
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It kind of depends on how you go about the question itself.

There's "liberal" in the sense of the term itself, outside of political meanings, which one can either use the social meaning of, essentially someone who favors change, or the more literal, which takes from the root of the word, Liberation, someone who favors freedom. Both answers I've given are incredibly simplistic and shortened versions, mind you.

Alternatively, you can take it in the sense of it's political meanings, of which there are essentially three camps; Liberal Beliefs (leftist beliefs that oppose conservative beliefs, both being intentionally left vague due to how the beliefs change over time), Social Liberal Beliefs (Currently, things like (but not limited to) pro-rights stances like being for *** marriage, being pro-choice instead of anti-abortion, favoring social programs like welfare and medicaid (though not necessarily those two for every single individual, they're just examples)), and Economic Liberal Beliefs (Currently, favoring tax increases, as well as other ****, but aside from taxes, I've stopped caring about either side's economic beliefs; they're both equally situational, sometimes one is ****** and the other works, other times they switch, and a lot of the time they're both terrible).

but hey, I'm a socialist, what do I know.
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Reiterpallasch wrote:
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Am I the only one who clicked on this thread expecting actual baby photos [of Jinte]? o.O

Except if it were baby photos, it would be like looking at before and afters of Michael Jackson. Only instead of turning into a white guy, he changes into a chick!
#8 Jul 31 2012 at 10:59 AM Rating: Decent
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Classically, to be liberal is to be for the most part, conservative; that is, one who espouses a free market view that includes liberties from all but the most essential constraints. However, over time the term liberal was co-opted by the Left and came to stand for the diametric opposite of that definition. In its' place it now commonly means freedom to behave in a narrow fashion that is accepted by those outside the norm or mainstream of society. In more recent history, to be a liberal is to be a throwback to early 18th century ideals where property and wealth are viewed as corrupting and bourgeious in the Marxist/Leninist worldview. The Occupy Wall Street movement and the Left's embracing of it is a prime example of this philosophy.

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#9 Jul 31 2012 at 12:23 PM Rating: Good
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Totem wrote:
Classically, to be liberal is to be for the most part, conservative; that is, one who espouses a free market view that includes liberties from all but the most essential constraints. However, over time the term liberal was co-opted by the Left and came to stand for the diametric opposite of that definition. In its' place it now commonly means freedom to behave in a narrow fashion that is accepted by those outside the norm or mainstream of society. In more recent history, to be a liberal is to be a throwback to early 18th century ideals where property and wealth are viewed as corrupting and bourgeious in the Marxist/Leninist worldview. The Occupy Wall Street movement and the Left's embracing of it is a prime example of this philosophy.

Totem

I think you confuse the liberals view of property and wealth. I consider property and wealth to be gained by hard work quite positively. On the other hand, I expect the government to insure that each of use has the ability to proper while also insuring that no one is prospering at the expense of others.

Regulation is viewed by many as a liberal thing that government does with a goal to subdue capitalism. In fact its purpose is quite contrary to that. It's to insure that all of us have an equal chance at capitalism. If OSHA didn't regulate businesses how many more workers would become disabled and be unable to contribute to society and capitalize on their own human asset? If EPA didn't regulate emissions how many factories would a community allow before the air was sooty and public health was compromised? Remember freedom is for all. You're allowed to freely build and construct and manufacture and mine as long as I'm free to continue to drink clean water and breath clean air. Should my freedom to breath clean air be trumped by your freedom to manufacture? Of course not. We can both enjoy our freedoms if you'll agree to capture and clean your emissions, I'll agree to live long, prosper and purchase your product.

I've little comment on Occupy Wall Street - it was a grass roots movement of the moment. It had no clear message beyond the one we all debate about daily - our system of governing seems to be out of whack. OWS placed the blame for that on the shoulders of big business. Tea Party really has the same message but they firmly place the blame on big government, regulation and the taxes required operate the big government.
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#10 Jul 31 2012 at 12:41 PM Rating: Excellent
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Quote:
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.


Something like this.

A liberal being more likely to support trying a promising novel, untested, or more radical solution to a problem. Whereas a conservative would be more likely to support either a hands-off approach, or a less radical solution where the pros and cons are better understood.
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#11 Jul 31 2012 at 12:59 PM Rating: Good
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For me, a liberal is someone who is always looking toward the future for inspiration. Where can we go? How can we make our world better? Liberals also tend to be someone optimistic about the human condition and humanity in general, and make less distinctions between "us" and "them" because they recognize that there is only one human race, like it or not, and we're all stuck on this planet together so we might as well get used to each other and learn to get along.

A conservative is someone always looking to the past for inspiration. How great we once were! How can we return to that lost greatness? How can we hold onto our traditions and our values? Conservatives are pessimists - humanity is at its core rotten, and we must band together with "our" tribe (the good guys) to keep out the scary Other Men who will take away our culture and our freedom. "I want my country back!" is the oft repeated lament of many Tea Partiers.

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#12 Jul 31 2012 at 2:40 PM Rating: Decent
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I was watching Intelligence Squared last night, and one of the ones I watched was a debate (read: an actual structured debate, not a bunch of pundits bickering) over whether the two party system has made America ungovernable and I really liked the way P.J. O'Rourke (on the opposing side, so in favor of the two party system) summed up the dems and the reps.

"The Democrats are the ones who say 'Government will make you richer, it'll make you taller, thinner, and it'll even get the crabgrass off your lawn.' The Republicans are the ones who say 'Government is useless!" and then when they get elected, they prove it. Basically, we have the silly party, and the stupid party. I belong to the stupid party, and I vote republican because they have less 'ideas'." Note: He makes it clear in the video that he's referencing the dems as the "silly" party and the reps as the "stupid" party, and that he is a republican.

It was a pretty interesting debate, over all, though I can't say I was necessarily shocked by the outcome.
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Reiterpallasch wrote:
Glitterhands wrote:
Am I the only one who clicked on this thread expecting actual baby photos [of Jinte]? o.O

Except if it were baby photos, it would be like looking at before and afters of Michael Jackson. Only instead of turning into a white guy, he changes into a chick!
#13 Jul 31 2012 at 2:58 PM Rating: Good
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Just after reading the first half of that article it appears that the author has confused "liberal" (modern political term associated with a specific ideological approach to rights, liberties, etc) with "liberalism" (a very broad ideology that introduces the concepts and weight of rights and liberties in the first place). It's somewhat absurd because within the modern US political landscape both conservatives and liberals fall within the umbrella of "liberalism". To be useful, he should perhaps define the differences between conservative and liberal political labels, rather than just argue that liberal==liberalism and presumably allow the reader to assume that conservatives are against all those things.

But that's just my first brushstroke look at the article. Suppose I should finish it. Maybe it gets smarter later on.
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#14 Jul 31 2012 at 4:01 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
Just after reading the first half of that article it appears that the author has confused "liberal" (modern political term associated with a specific ideological approach to rights, liberties, etc) with "liberalism" (a very broad ideology that introduces the concepts and weight of rights and liberties in the first place). It's somewhat absurd because within the modern US political landscape both conservatives and liberals fall within the umbrella of "liberalism". To be useful, he should perhaps define the differences between conservative and liberal political labels, rather than just argue that liberal==liberalism and presumably allow the reader to assume that conservatives are against all those things.

But that's just my first brushstroke look at the article. Suppose I should finish it. Maybe it gets smarter later on.
I've not done more than skimmed the article. I just posted it as candy for the question to be answered. My master plan was to get some answers, then listen to the program...but it all fell apart.

So anyways, how about that corn on the cob?
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#15 Jul 31 2012 at 6:31 PM Rating: Good
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If the Asylum is to be believed, it's just a word pleebs toss out as often as possible trying to prove just how "in the know" they are as far as politics are concerned.
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#16 Jul 31 2012 at 7:04 PM Rating: Good
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If the Asylum is to be believed, it's just a word pleebs toss out as often as possible trying to prove just how "in the know" they are as far as politics are concerned.

I love the word "pleebs." Soooooo much fun to say. Smiley: laugh
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Reiterpallasch wrote:
Glitterhands wrote:
Am I the only one who clicked on this thread expecting actual baby photos [of Jinte]? o.O

Except if it were baby photos, it would be like looking at before and afters of Michael Jackson. Only instead of turning into a white guy, he changes into a chick!
#17 Jul 31 2012 at 7:27 PM Rating: Good
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To be a liberal is to trust that government will generally do the right thing.
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#18 Jul 31 2012 at 7:47 PM Rating: Good
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To be a liberal is to trust that government will generally do the right thing.

Well, not conservative governments, natch.
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#19 Jul 31 2012 at 9:20 PM Rating: Excellent
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Demea wrote:
To be a liberal is to trust that government will generally do the right thing.


Not in my book. I think we all have a responsibility to watch the government and to speak out when we see it going off the rails. I've watched with growing alarm as the executive branch's power has grown, for example, and as our privacy and certain Constitutional rights (search and seizure, free speech) have been infringed.

On the other hand, and this touches on your tossed-off definition, I do think we have to depend on governmental authority for some things: protecting the rights of workers and enforcing the responsibility of businesses to be good stewards of the environment, for example. The reason we need government involvement is simple: history bears out the rather pessimistic view that without it, businesses and individuals will not take those responsibilities upon themselves.
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#20 Aug 01 2012 at 2:10 AM Rating: Good
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My husband was talking about an article he read recently that basically defined liberals as those whose primary focus was the "world" at large, future generations, etc. and a conservative as those whose primary focus was the here and now, and mostly on themselves.

It may have been a scientific study, actually, using these definitions... I can't remember exactly. I just remember the definitions.


Edited, Aug 1st 2012 3:11am by Belkira
#21 Aug 01 2012 at 9:28 AM Rating: Good
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"...a promising novel, untested, or more radical solution..." --someproteinguy

Herein lies the rub to quote that old saw. As a conservative this is where I instinctively want to dig in my heels, balk, and resist. While the promising part sounds intriguiging and merits further investigation, the untested and more radical part is what makes my skin crawl. And apparently it made our Founding Fathers' skin crawl too. This nation's three pilars of government were purposefully designed to slow the pace of change down and create an inherent tension between those branches. It is what we all know of as the checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. Rapid change was anathema to the framers of our Constitution, which was why they made it difficult to manipulate the document and for some, frustratingly vague in specific areas or concerns.

Contrary to what some on this board may think, conservatism isn't about maintaining the Old Ways, but rather to incorporate those time tested and proven methods into a thoughtful, measured, and responsible rate of change. Obviously some change is always necessary to respond to a world that is not static. But change for the sake of change is more likely than not, useless, and frequently dangerous-- particularly when it is untested and radical.

I often compare conservatism and liberalism to the battle between teenagers and their parents. Parents, having gone through the very problems that their children are experiencing understand that there is value in specific time honored behaviors and rules. Teenagers, by their nature are impatient, want movement-- any kind of movement --and view their elders as stodgity, old fashioned, and not responsive to the "new" problems of today. Neither one can see the advantages the other has to offer and like our government today, frequently neither one is willing to listen either.

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#22 Aug 01 2012 at 1:13 PM Rating: Decent
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Elinda wrote:
I think you confuse the liberals view of property and wealth. I consider property and wealth to be gained by hard work quite positively. On the other hand, I expect the government to insure that each of use has the ability to proper while also insuring that no one is prospering at the expense of others.


The problem is in defining the difference between those two. How does one decide if that millionaire gained his wealth by "hard work". More importantly who gets to decide this? ****. What is "hard work"?

I suppose this also touches on an interesting difference between liberal and conservative economic views. Conservatives tend to believe that the free market (with some minimal regulation of course) is the best way to ensure that if someone has wealth it was gained via positive actions rather than negative. It's not "hard work" that is rewarded, but providing others with goods and services which are valued collectively by those others higher than the cost to produce. If I spend 5 million dollars on equipment, raw materials, labor costs, etc, and the result of putting those things together is some volume of products that people are willing to freely choose to buy for a total of 6 million, than the 1 million profit I just made is my reward for being the guy who took the risk guessing that what I would do would be worth something to others and did it right. If what I build isn't of sufficient value to others, then my business will fail and I'll lose my investment. It's self correcting.

I think that Liberals try to over fix something that isn't really broken, and in the process actually make things broken. Is there need for regulation to prevent abuses in a free market? Absolutely. But there's a difference between saying "you can't dump raw sewage into a river" and "you must pay higher taxes so we can provide free health care to people who aren't even working for you". I think that many liberals justify what they (or their party really) do with arguments that big business makes too much money, or makes it unfairly, or pollutes too much, or whatever. But IMO those really are just excuses. And pretty thin ones at that. Take the current push by Obama and the Dems to raise taxes on income over $250k/year. That affects all people or businesses which make that much. Clearly, that flies in the face of the claim that it's just about making sure only people who've earned the wealth and property they have get to keep it. Regulations on business practices are sufficient to accomplish that. Raising taxes on everyone who makes over X dollars is absolutely just about punishing success.


I just think that if we have a choice between allowing people's free choices to decide how much money people make and having the government do so, I'll take the people any time. We just don't need a government deciding that some people "make too much money" and no amount of flawed justifications make it a good idea.
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#23 Aug 01 2012 at 1:29 PM Rating: Excellent
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Demea wrote:
To be a liberal is to trust that government will generally do the right thing.
gbaji wrote:
I just think that if we have a choice between allowing people's free choices to decide how much money people make and having the government do so, I'll take the people any time.

I think there's some truth to Twiz's statement simply in that liberals seem to treat the government as a body of people who act as, well, people whereas conservatives like Gbaji constantly resort to presenting it as some boogeyman construction run by, I don't know, goblin-monsters or something. But they constantly try to draw a line between "people" and "government" and do everything they can to dehumanize it. Which is why ideas like "The government will be in your healthcare!" or "The government will decide what kind of gas you can buy!" don't scare me nearly as much as they do conservatives. People make those decisions anyway, be they insurance companies or oil companies or whoever and given a choice, I'd rather take the person who doesn't have a profit motive weighing against my best interests. But when you're convinced that the government is "Us" versus some malevolent and shadowy "Them", it's harder to have that perspective.

Edit: To amend Twiz, I generally have faith in my government, with its checks and balances, means of removing people from power, etc. Obviously people have the capacity to be corrupt but that's because they are corrupt people, not some magical dehumanizing function of government.

Edited, Aug 1st 2012 2:38pm by Jophiel
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#24 Aug 01 2012 at 4:56 PM Rating: Good
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Jophiel wrote:
Demea wrote:
To be a liberal is to trust that government will generally do the right thing.
gbaji wrote:
I just think that if we have a choice between allowing people's free choices to decide how much money people make and having the government do so, I'll take the people any time.

I think there's some truth to Twiz's statement simply in that liberals seem to treat the government as a body of people who act as, well, people whereas conservatives like Gbaji constantly resort to presenting it as some boogeyman construction run by, I don't know, goblin-monsters or something. But they constantly try to draw a line between "people" and "government" and do everything they can to dehumanize it. Which is why ideas like "The government will be in your healthcare!" or "The government will decide what kind of gas you can buy!" don't scare me nearly as much as they do conservatives. People make those decisions anyway, be they insurance companies or oil companies or whoever and given a choice, I'd rather take the person who doesn't have a profit motive weighing against my best interests. But when you're convinced that the government is "Us" versus some malevolent and shadowy "Them", it's harder to have that perspective.

Edit: To amend Twiz, I generally have faith in my government, with its checks and balances, means of removing people from power, etc. Obviously people have the capacity to be corrupt but that's because they are corrupt people, not some magical dehumanizing function of government.

Edited, Aug 1st 2012 2:38pm by Jophiel

to be fair, I think many people, regardless of their politics, would consider the boogeyman and/or goblin-monsters to be more reliable and consistent than people.
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Reiterpallasch wrote:
Glitterhands wrote:
Am I the only one who clicked on this thread expecting actual baby photos [of Jinte]? o.O

Except if it were baby photos, it would be like looking at before and afters of Michael Jackson. Only instead of turning into a white guy, he changes into a chick!
#25 Aug 01 2012 at 5:03 PM Rating: Excellent
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Sure, they're reliably scary so being scared of them is easy and doesn't take any thought! Smiley: grin
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#26 Aug 01 2012 at 5:14 PM Rating: Good
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Jophiel wrote:
I think there's some truth to Twiz's statement simply in that liberals seem to treat the government as a body of people who act as, well, people whereas conservatives like Gbaji constantly resort to presenting it as some boogeyman construction run by, I don't know, goblin-monsters or something. But they constantly try to draw a line between "people" and "government" and do everything they can to dehumanize it. Which is why ideas like "The government will be in your healthcare!" or "The government will decide what kind of gas you can buy!" don't scare me nearly as much as they do conservatives. People make those decisions anyway, be they insurance companies or oil companies or whoever and given a choice, I'd rather take the person who doesn't have a profit motive weighing against my best interests. But when you're convinced that the government is "Us" versus some malevolent and shadowy "Them", it's harder to have that perspective.

My general feeling is that conservatives distrust government (more than liberals, at least) because of the combination of three things: elected officials have incentives rooted in political self-interest (i.e. getting re-elected) that don't always align with the best interests of the electorate; the federal government has vastly more power, influence and money than they should compared to the power held by the individual states, and; in a philosophical sense, governments only exist to restrict individual freedoms.

Or that's my take, at least. Which is kind of the antithesis to the original question asked (about "liberals").

Edit: also, please don't confuse conservatives generally with "conservatives like Gbaji." It's really like comparing apples to pedantic, delusional blowhards.

Edited, Aug 1st 2012 6:16pm by Demea
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