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Finding out what I am
It was hot in Escondido, nearing 100 degrees. Six of the nine tennis courts were empty as even the most fit of players didn’t choose
to challenge the sweltering sun as it approached noon. I had played three sets and was done for the day.
I headed for the
local supermarket to purchase a six pack of diet sodas, which would last me through this steamy day.
I parked and walked
towards the automatic doors of the market. That’s when I heard, “Hey, Ron, over here, c’mere.” Two of my neighborhood friends were
sitting at the Starbuck’s located next to the market. “C’mon over here, we wanna ask you something.”
The two guys were sprawled around the small metal table, drinking strong coffee, nothing fancy for these guys.
sitting here talking about the difference between liberals and conservatives. My friend here says there isn’t much difference between
liberals and conservatives when you strip off all the bravado. I say there’s a big difference between the two groups. What do you
“Boy, that’s a tough one – it gets very complex. The textbook definitions are that liberals believe that government
has an obligation and a duty to form the society. Laws that manage people’s lives are proposed so that we all may be guided by the
“common good.” Conservatives believe that the individual has the obligation to form society. People and the market place should decide
the “common good.” Government, local or national, should have limited power to pass laws that effect how society is managed. How’s
that, boys, clarify things?”
“That’s a bit of oversimplification, my friend. The way I look at it, liberals believe society
(government) has an obligation to manage the results of industry and labor by taking a share of their income (profits and wages) and
distribute the proceeds to the less fortunate and needy. Conservatives believe that these earnings should mostly be kept by those
who earn them and tax profits and wages only for the common defense and well being of the citizens.”
My more rotund (call
it fat) friend quickly injected, “It’s that last part that causes a lot of problems. When is support for the needy enough? You know
how it is. Liberals believe that the wealthier should contribute more for the good of the less fortunate. Conservatives believe that
the more wealthy should not subsidize the poorer citizens disproportionately.”
My not-so-fat friend had to add, “Isn’t it
that conservatives believe that the economy will be strong if those who earn more by risk-taking or hard work keep most of their wealth
and reinvest their money while liberals believe that high earners should have their profits taxed more so to create a “more even playing
field,” giving more citizens a better chance to succeed.”
My fat friend, who most of us call, “Big,” took a big sip of his
black coffee and said, “I think that to be liberal is to be able to see the viewpoints of everyone across the board – to feel for
the underdogs in our society. Sometimes the liberals lose their rationality and want to help everyone – often not considering the
cost that this assistance might impose on everyone else’s pocketbook. Liberals like to think that everyone should think as they think,
and to feel righteous as they go along exploring every new idea that comes along – especially in the arts. Conservatives want to conserve
and if at all possible, add to what they have. They don’t particularly pay attention to the needs of others, no matter how deserving
because they believe that each person gets what they deserve (no matter how ill-equipped that person is mentally or physically). Many
conservatives think that any viewpoint not like theirs is undeserving of consideration. They like to think that new ideas tend to
be outrageous and likely harmful. They often feel strongly that anyone who does not think and do as they do has something basically
wrong with them.”
‘Wow,” I barked. “That’s quite a mouthful, but do you really believe that the differences between liberals
and conservatives are as great as they were ten years ago?”
Fred, my less-fat friend, added, “Hillary Clinton, recently
said that liberals favor a “shared responsibility” society while conservatives favor an “on your own” society.
had excused himself to purchase a bran muffin, returned to our table, took a large bite out of the muffin and mumbled, “So, whose
fault is this Iraq war – conservatives or liberals?”
“I had to chip in here. “I don’t think the blame belongs to liberals
or conservatives. It has nothing to do with either. A lot of things go on in politics that shouldn’t be labeled liberal or conservative.
Take the Iraq war for example. It was just a case of a few politicians making a decision to invade Iraq. I don’t think it had anything
to do with liberal or conservative. But, one thing I’ve noticed lately is that anyone who differs with this administration’s policies
is quickly labeled a “soft on terrorism” liberal.
“Big” swallowed the last of his bran muffin and said, “I think that almost
all politicians are good Americans who want the same thing – peace, a growing economy, less crime and a country that has the ability
and desire to help others at the same time we defend ourselves against those who would harm us. Of course there are those politicians
on both sides of the aisle who use their position and power to better themselves. Hopefully, those that break the law will be caught
and made examples.”
The cups were empty, The metal chairs creating discomfort. The topic covered.
“So, ‘Big,’ what are you, you think, a liberal or a conservative?”
“Aw, I probably lean towards the liberal side. How about
“If I had to choose I’d say I’m slightly conservative. And you, Ron?”
“I’ll be damned if I know. When
it comes to taking care of our citizens I lean more towards the liberal side, but on many fiscal things I think like a conservative.
Maybe you should call me a “Liberative,” or a “Conservable.” Maybe you could just call me an American and forget the labels.