I’ve been a liberal since I discovered the City Lights Books store and the beatnik writers whose works they published in the 1950s. I am a Viet Nam veteran who thinks now, and thought at the time, that the war was wrong, that we were on the wrong side, but, having been committed we should have fought it better with full support, gotten it done and then let the politicians sort it out. I supported the civil rights movement in the 60s and now. I think that every citizen should have equal opportunities, free and decent basic education and access to affordable health care. I think the government should concern itself with upholding the Constitution, stay out of my personal life and take less of my money. I value free speech, freedom of the press, the real spirit and intent of all the Constitutional amendments including the second one and I inherently don’t trust government to have the best interests of the citizens at heart, but I do believe that it requires close supervision by the people and transparency of operation.
Now, however, things have changed. Too many liberals have adopted a self-righteousness that I find to be disgusting and counter to actual liberal values. Many have shifted far to the left and become regressively imperialistic and dogmatic and bought into identity politics to an extreme degree. This is wrong and unhealthy. When differences of opinion and healthy debate, even necessary political compromises are decried, insulted and vilified, the game has changed. It’s become “us” or “them” and “them” are likened to monstrous criminals against whom unprincipled, unethical and even illegal acts are condoned. This is wrong whether one is a liberal or conservative.
Being able to listen to, engage and evaluate differences in ideas and information, politics and social philosophies is the mark of a balanced individual, whether conservative or liberal.
Until something changes and sanity reappears, I am done. I will seek out, listen to and engage anyone’s ideas then evaluate those ideas for myself based on reason and evidence. In today’s political and educational environments, that doesn’t make me a liberal or a conservative. I’m declaring myself an independent.
It has been a long time since the 1950 and it has taken a long time to say goodbye to my self identity as a liberal, but the time has come.