Try Though I May, I Can't Understand Liberalism. Can You Explain It To Me?

Author: Terrianne Webster, from her blog:

A friend recently asked me to explain my political ideology to her. She said that try though she may, she cannot understand liberalism or why anyone would support President Obama. I have the utmost respect for this particular friend; I believe her request was absolutely genuine. So I tried my best to explain my beliefs to her. Here is what I wrote:


Sorry it has taken me a few days to reply to this. I wanted to have a decent block of time to to attempt to answer your question. First, I don't consider myself the spokesperson for liberalism or for the Democratic Party or for Obama supporters, although I'm proud to be part of all three groups. I am not well enough informed on ALL the issues to be the voice of our ideology. Gerald is far more knowledgeable than I am because he is a self-professed "political junkie." However, you did not ask him; you asked me. So I'll try my best to tell you what I know and believe, because you asked. I should also say that as baffled as you are by liberalism, I am equally baffled by conservatism. I truly don't understand how regular people (normal middle class Americans) could possibly support the proposed policies of Governor Romney. So you and I have that in common. We are both mystified by the other's beliefs.

When I think about politics, I tend to separate issues into four main groups: domestic issues, foreign policy, economic issues, and social concerns. These overlap, of course, but my brain does better when I consider them individually. Regarding domestic policies, unlike conservatives, I believe government should have a role. While it would be great if all people had family members and churches to help them, that is not the case. It is our responsibility to help the needy and the underprivileged. In a country as prosperous as ours, it is an atrocity for anyone ever to go to bed hungry or without adequate shelter. We are the only developed nation in the world where people have to be frightened of their medical bills. That is not okay with me. Healthcare is a basic human right, just like food and shelter. Conservatives like to use the buzzword "entitlements," as though it is a terrible thing. It isn't. As Heavenly Father's children, we are indeed entitled to food, shelter, and healthcare.

This crosses over into social issues. Conservatives often have disdain for welfare abuse and, therefore, oppose welfare and all social programs. As long as there is aid for the needy, some WILL abuse the system. That's because people have their agency. And that's between them and God. It's not my issue. But to throw out welfare (and other social programs that aid the poor) because some people abuse it is beyond ridiculous. Pure love demands that we take care of our citizens. It is an embarrassment to our great nation when we let its citizens (and their children) starve. As for other social issues, there are many. I will address some of the most commonly disputed.

The right of women to make their own healthcare choices, including safe abortion, is always a huge issue. For sure, I'm no fan of abortion. It is the saddest thing. I can't think of a circumstance other than to save my own life (so I may continue to be a mother to my already-born children) that would cause me to choose to have an abortion. However, it is not my right to force my viewpoint upon all women. Instead, I would fund programs to educate women about effective contraception and make it available to all. I would make sex education more comprehensive in schools, rather than abstinence-only curricula, which is both naive and ineffective. I would continue to fund programs for single mothers, so they have a chance for a strong education, giving them the opportunity to provide a decent life for their children. I would fund solid, professional counseling for young pregnant women, so they might choose to continue their pregnancies and give life to their babies, without it defeating them and ruining their own lives. But in the end, I am still pro-choice. The right to safe, legal abortion in the first trimester must be protected.

Gun control and capital punishment are other topics of interest that tend to divide liberals from conservatives. I favor the strictest gun control laws possible under the U.S. Constitution. Allowing folks to go out and buy a hand gun that is designed with the single purpose to kill people, and to do so without proper documentation and without any wait time, is possibly the most irresponsible act I can imagine. Capital punishment, though not currently in the forefront of political discussion, is my personal "soap box" issue, so I won't leave it out. We are the only developed nation in the world that still kills its own citizens. How very sad. There is no place for this barbaric practice, which dehumanizes society and disregards and disrespects us like nothing else.

As for foreign policy, I believe that war must always be our very last resort. Neither war that was instigated during the Bush years (and that we are still trying to escape but paying for nonetheless) was justified. Republicans complain about the deficit. I have little sympathy when it's clear that by far the greatest majority of that debt was used to fund two ridiculous wars that we never belonged in. I'm not a pure pacifist. If someone comes through my door and tries to hurt my babies, I'm pretty sure I'll do anything to protect them. But fighting a war in Iraq over oil was both unjustified and immoral. We need to coexist peacefully with other countries, not present a "tough guy" attitude that repulses people. Arrogance never accomplishes anything.

Regarding economics, I don't claim to be an expert. However, I know for sure that everyone needs to pay his or her fair share of taxes to fund the programs I discussed above and also so we may have fire and police protection, quality education, good roads, etc. Governor Romney has been slow to produce his tax returns, but if I remember correctly, he finally released 2011, which showed he paid around 14% in income tax and Social Security. Gerald and I, who earn far less, paid a higher percentage. This is NOT okay with me. Not at all. Tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% only help the wealthiest 1%. The burden is repeatedly placed on the middle class. The only way to economic stability and prosperity is to build a strong middle class. And that's what the President is trying to do, though he finds himself blocked by the GOP Congress over and over. I don't agree with every policy of President Obama, but I'm proud of what he has accomplished. He was left with a giant mess after eight years of the Bush administration. My hope is that he will be reelected and that congress will be willing to work with him toward economic recovery. When he was elected in 2008, many Republicans in congress said it was their #1 goal to make him a one-term president. If that was their #1 goal, no wonder they refused to unite with him to solve problems. Once he is reelected, that can no longer be their #1 goal, obviously. So perhaps they will be able to put the needs of the county ahead of their hatred for the President and get down to work.

I really hope this was helpful to you. For what it's worth, I love you and care about you as a friend, and differing politics could never change that. So many of my best friends are conservatives. I think it's a demonstration of grace and maturity when people with different views can respect each other and appreciate each other for the intelligent, worthy individuals they are. Those who can't do that truly miss out.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Subscribe Share


get updates