Sunday, January 15, 2017

What does 'liberal agenda' really mean?

previously published in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, 15 January 2017

I am (apparently) a member of the “liberal elite.” I didn’t aspire to it. Beverly Gage, writing in the January 3, 2017, New York Times Magazine states its “one of the nastiest epithets in American Politics.” The term has been around a long time, and is proof of “repeat a lie long enough and it becomes ‘truth’.”
Who are the liberal elite? There is a geographic aspect to it: they live in the coastal states but apparently not the Gulf Coast because then we would include those who reside in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The image of liberal elites doesn’t fit driving around in a Cadillac with a longhorn hood ornament. Those south-eastern Atlantic states, North Carolina with its highly regulated bathrooms, Florida’s “stand your ground laws” and Georgia’s most lenient gun laws in the nation are hardly bastions of the “liberal elite.”
The liberal elite also live in cities, San Francisco, LA, New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., with outposts in Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin. So far, I don’t fit.
Beyond geography, according to Conservapedia, “The Liberal Elite is a term used to describe those high-ranking members of society — politicians, college educators and celebrities — who regularly promote the liberal agenda to unsuspecting teenagers and young people.”  Three occupations are especially contaminated with the liberal elite, college educators being one of them. I am guilty of that profession, professing the discipline of sociology to students. Lastly, Conservapedia adds this: “The Liberal Elite believe they are superior to others. Not in a physical sense but mentally, they have their high ground and nobody dare challenge. If you challenge the Liberal Elite thinking and beliefs, you risk being ridiculed.” I am surprised that the “conservative inferiors” (literally the antonym of liberal elite) would be so concerned about ridiculing. Do they need a “safe space?” I like being challenged. Most college professors I know want their students to challenge them instead of trying to guess what we want to hear.
Conservapedia offers a long list of the characteristics and traits of the liberal elite. It’s too long here to reproduce but among the most damning for me are the following: “professor values,” “birth control,” and “public schools.”
Lastly, Wikipedia offers that the liberal elite (only left-leaning individuals) “used their education to open doors to power and influence” and formed a managerial elite. This must be in contrast to those who inherit their wealth and influence and need to hire folks with the skills to manage their wealth and companies.
Here is my “liberal agenda:” I believe humans are capable of learning; that means sometimes moving beyond conventional wisdom such as supply-side economics and that government can solve all the problems. I resist bigotry of lumping those who I disagree with into some abstract group with a negative label like “liberal elite” or “fly-over country.” In fact, I call people and groups by the name that they wish to be called as a matter of respect, so pro-life people are pro-life and pro-choice people are pro-choice (not abortionists or a hate group). I seek to understand, even though sometimes it’s difficult, “the other side.” I try to argue over the factual aspects of the debates, although, I admit, that seems harder and harder to do, snark and clever accusations seem more the form of debate today.
I admit to sarcasm in response to sarcastic or nasty remarks, but like swearing, it’s overused and has lost its effect. I am skeptical of power, both governmental and corporate. I do not watch much television or many mainstream movies (anymore). I prefer to read the news instead of listening to it. I cherish free speech the way individuals do which is why I prefer the public square over the mall. I also believe in and practice civility. Most of my life I have been associated with a church, I am not nor ever was particularly religious. I am a gun owner but am uncomfortable with the macho fetish gun culture that now grips America. I believe there is racial and gender bias on both sides, but it matters far, far more for one side.
I do not support capital punishment, even for Dylan Roof. I support Social Security but favor indexing increases to a different measure of cost of living more reflective of retirees. I don’t believe corporations are people and they do not have speech.
If you agree with much of the above you might be an “elite,” too.
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