What Is A Liberal?

Lately the term “Liberal” has been used all too often in derogatory ways. How many times during the recent US Presidential campaign have we heard the term “Mr. Kerry and his Liberal allies?” Many advertisements used the term “Liberal” in a way that was meant to mean people who are out of touch with reality. I even had one individual tell me that there is no way I can be a Christian if I have any Liberal viewpoints. So, what does “Liberal” really mean to us?

Well over two centuries ago, a large number of colonists in North America became tired of abuse by a government that severely limited their rights. Some of them came up with a really Liberal idea: forget the monarchy, let’s allow the people to select representatives who will work together to govern fairly. This fledgling government was forced to fight for the very Liberal idea of freedom for all. These liberal leaders included people like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and especially Thomas Jefferson – who wrote the Declaration of Independence, as well as much of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and as President made certain these ideals were actually implemented.

Less than a half century later, the conservatives who supported slavery rebelled against the Liberals who opposed it. During the ensuing war, President Abraham Lincoln made the very Liberal idea that all men are free the official policy of the US Government, and slavery became illegal.

In the days of our grandparents, this country suffered a severe economic upheaval because certain individuals and organizations were more interested in short-term gains than in the long-term well-being of their employees, customers, and investors. At one point, over a quarter of everyone who wanted to work could not find a job. It took a very brave President to stand up against the conservative business establishment, and actually implement the very Liberal idea that the US Government should help protect its citizens. He was even wise enough to admit when he was wrong, and when something didn’t work he wasn’t afraid to try something different. Does this make him wishy-washy? I know that many conservatives would like to undo much of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt did, but how many of us would want to give up the protections that we enjoy as a result of his Liberal leadership?

I’ve been reading stories about the life of a certain individual who had some extremely Liberal ideas while living in an ultra-conservative society. He actually had the nerve to stand up to the leaders of the time, and explain to them how they were wrong. His closest friends included a prostitute, a government agent whose peers were well known for stealing from the public, a number of lower-class laborers, and one or two individuals who were members of an extremist organization that supported assassinating corrupt government officials. He did Liberal things like providing food for large numbers of people in need. He not only told stories about a hated minority that made some of them look like heroes, he actually spent time visiting with them. He did many other things that offended the conservative establishment of the time, which finally had Him executed.

With examples like these – and many others – I’m proud to be called a Liberal. And to those who believe that you can’t be a Liberal and a Christian at the same time, I suggest they carefully re-read the first four books of the New Testament.

-Artie See

This commentary is the first in what I hope will become a series of contributions from Artie to Comments From Left Field. As usual, please leave your comments below.

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