I received a right-wing email recently, tellingly entitled, “The Fence”. Fences are of course, meant to divide people. And the email was sad in that the author had worked hard to divide us – yet while doing so, unwittingly revealed the basic difference in viewpoint between Liberal Progressives and Conservative Regressives.
In “the fence” email, the conservative author is focused on “ME-ME-ME” – and erroneously believes liberals have the same selfish world view. I believe this lack of understanding of basic motivation is the key difference between progressives and conservatives – one that has evolutionary implications.
Liberals/progressives have consistently worked to create a better, more inclusive society for ALL, throughout the history of the United States. It is thanks to liberals that we have social security and medicare for our elderly, child labor laws to protect our kids, national parks and forests to preserve some of our wilderness and wildlife, the G.I. bill and Veterans health care, workplace safety rules, car safety standards, airline safety standards, etc. *A more complete list of Liberal accomplishments appears at the end of this post.
President John F. Kennedy defined liberalism best:
...If if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of THE PEOPLE — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” ~ President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Now here is the conservative’s email, with a few choice comments in bold and italics. I hope my fellow liberals will forgive me for taking the liberty of sometimes speaking for liberals in general.
*Which side of the fence?*If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!
- If a Conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a Liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed. Wrong. Many liberals own guns. Surprised? Its not something you’ll often read in those NRA propaganda emails. They need to keep you scared so you’ll keep paying those membership dues! I am a liberal and I don’t know ANY liberals who believe we can or should ban all guns. However, most of us DO think that AUTOMATIC WEAPONS have no purpose other than killing human beings, and probably shouldn’t be handed out like candy. Therefore we believe in stringent background checks to help keep guns out of the hands of deranged people, criminals, and terrorists.
- If a Conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a Liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone. Oh, come on! As a liberal and a vegetarian, I have never suggested that meat be “banned for everyone”. Lots of liberals still eat meat, (although for environmental, ethical and health reasons increasing numbers of people are minimizing their consumption of animal products), and I would bet that a majority of vegetarians are liberals. However – LIKE OTHER PERSONAL DECISIONS HAVING TO DO WITH ONE’S OWN BODY – avoiding flesh foods is a PERSONAL CHOICE and NOT a public policy issue. I’ve never met anyone who thinks meat could or should be outlawed. Get back to me when you’re ready to stay out of womens’ reproductive decisions and gay people’s marriage decisions.
- If a Conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life. OK, I burst out laughing when I read this one! More likely, if a conservative is homosexual he is closeted because he has been taught to hate gays, and therefore exhibits symptoms of a psychological derangement called “projection.” It’s also likely that this nameless “conservative homosexual” publicly disparages & attacks gays due to this “projection”. He then gets himself elected on an anti-gay “family values” platform – until he is caught SOLICITING SEX FROM STRANGERS in a bathroom, doing crank and having sex with guys in hotels, or traveling with male prostitutes. THEN he retires and “quietly” lives his closeted life. (OR, he marries a conservative senator, calls himself a “dr.” and runs a “pray away the gay” clinic.)
If a Liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect. It’s not just liberal gay people that “demand” legislation to protect human rights; it’s a basic liberal belief that ALL people, including gay/lesbians/bi//transsexuals, have a right by both nature and our CONSTITUTION to be able to live free of threats, harassment, beatings, and murder. We believe NO ONE should be denied jobs or housing based upon sexual preference. I, for one, also want to live in a society where people are educated to be more compassionate and inclusive towards those different from themselves, be it difference in race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation.
- If a Conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. More likely, he joins the teabaggers and blames Obama. (Or, sometimes he listens to Limbaugh watches FOX “news” until he’s thoroughly brainwashed, afraid and angry, then runs out to shoot American citizens at places like the Tides Foundation.)
A Liberal wonders who is going to take care of him. Yawn. As a liberal, I own my own business and most of my liberal friends also are very CREATIVE; many are SELF EMPLOYED. Some of us work SEVERAL different jobs. We are resourceful, creative people who tend to be more flexible and ingenious than most conservatives. Sorry to generalize, but it’s the truth. We do not wonder ‘who is going to take care’ of us. However, we DO support unemployment insurance and food assistance for those who have become vulnerable due to Wall Street Bankers playing casino games with our life savings and retirement funds. We believe in helping our fellow citizens who have been laid off or suffered a devastating illness. We don’t shower the wealthy with ever more tax cuts and corporate welfare while denying our fellow citizens even basic food and shelter. We expect that in the richest country in the world, working people should not be living in cardboard boxes or tent cities while CEOs of multinational corporations are lavishly rewarded for outsourcing their jobs. Once again, our conservative friend assumes we are small-minded, selfish people LIKE HIMSELF. Instead, we are working to create a better society and world for ALL.
- If a Conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down. I don’t know one liberal who wants stations “shut down”. However, we DO believe that the airwaves belong to THE PEOPLE, and we recognize that the now defunct “fairness doctrine” once insured that giant corporations could not completely CONTROL the discussion. Corporate crony Reagan did away with this, and also relaxed anti-monopoly rules, which allowed giant corporations to gradually take over all media in America. Currently just 6 conservative corporations control everything you see and hear – TV, cable, radio, movies. (Google can give you tons of info on these 6 corporations, or you can start by visiting FreePress.Net) Right-wing talk shows are the voice of Corporate America – NOT the people. Their listeners are being brainwashed. It would be WONDERFUL if stations were once again required to air multiple opinions on THE PEOPLE’S AIRWAVES, so that citizens could hear a variety of viewpoints and be better informed. If this were the case, far less people would be so misinformed and deceived as to vote against their own best interest .
- If a Conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church. Let us segue here for a moment. There may be a few non-fundamentalist conservatives, but let’s face it: a large percentage of right-wingers are anti-science, fundamentalist Christians – and many are Dominionists, (or Christian Taliban) who are essentially working to create a Theocracy in America, and replace our wonderful secular democracy with something out of the dark ages. This group believes in ruling using their version of old testament law, complete with death sentences for unbelievers, adulterers, gay people, etc. A decidedly un-democratic bunch. (Google “Domionionism” and “The Family” to learn more. )
A Liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. Wait…WTF? Segue:Does the author think that all “believers” are conservative? Unbeknownst to the writer of this email, there are many liberal spiritual people who are not necessarily “believers” in christianity, but who have a genuine awakened, living spirituality. And there are also countless liberal christian “believers” who truly adhere to the teaching of Jesus to “love thy neighbor as thyself” the “Golden Rule” and the Beatitudes. That’s why they’re liberals!
As a spiritual person who is not religious, I believe that in our secular, multi-belief society, it is wrong to only emphasize one type of deity and exclude others in our PUBLIC PLACES. Therefore, I would favor a very generalized acknowledgment of awakened consciousness over a rigid, exclusionary reference to a specific god. Specific gods/goddesses belong in their PRIVATE denominational services, (which are attended by CHOICE,) NOT our SHARED public places. Our society is made up of all kinds of beliefs. Oh, and by the way, the founding of America blossomed during the Age of Enlightenment, a time when the educated people – like our founders – were mostly DEISTS rather than Christians. Deism believes that the sacred is infused in ALL of life, whether it be called “god” or something else, like “the Universe”.
- If a Conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. Except if he has a PRE-EXISTING CONDITION, when no for-profit insurance company will accept him. Or except if he needs expensive treatment, when his insurance company may arbitrarily decide to DROP him. Or except if he can’t find a job, or is laid off and becomes sick and CANNOT AFFORD CORPORATE FOR-PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE. Americans go bankrupt and lose their homes EVERY DAY due to illness, and ¾ of these DO have health insurance. Giant multinational insurance corporations are NOT charities and DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. They are the true DEATH PANELS . Oh, and “choose a job”? That’s rich! In this economy? Is the writer of this email living under a rock, or just so wealthy that he’s unaware of how people are struggling to find any work at all?
A Liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his. Nope. A liberal believes that a society can be judged by how they treat their weakest members: the sick, the elderly, and the poor. And a liberal knows that, just like other advanced countries, costs for everyone go down when healthcare is universal. A Liberal is happy to chip in together with everyone else for the good of ALL. We want health care for EVERY CITIZEN, even for conservatives who would deny it to others. A liberal demands that a civilized society have a safety net so that no one loses their home due to illness or dies without treatment. (The USA currently has the highest healthcare costs in the world and is #37 in quality of care. France is #1.)
If a Conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A Liberal will delete it because he’s “offended”. A liberal will delete it because it’s propaganda. Or, some liberals will write a blog correcting it.
Sigh. With the insane cult that the GOP has become, it is unfortunate that they have such willing lapdogs to forward propaganda and assist them in their efforts to destroy our democracy.
But I believe that we liberals are on the right side of history, that humankind is slowly progressing to a better way of living. I also believe that we human beings are in the midst of an evolutionary leap… and therefore I find reason to believe that love will prevail over this temporary darkness.
*Here is a more complete list of some Liberal accomplishments that benefit EVERYONE. I’ve borrowed it from this URL http://thepragmaticprogressive.org/wp/2011/07/14/150-achievements-of-liberalism-that-conservatives-seek-to-destroy/
1. The 40-hour work week
4. Women’s Voting Rights
5. The Civil Rights Act of 1964
6. The right of people of all colors to use schools and facilities.
7. Public schools.
8. Child-labor laws.
9. The right to unionize
10. Health care benefits
11. National Parks
12. National Forests
13. Interstate Highway System
14. GI Bill
15. Labor Laws/Worker’s Rights
16. Marshall Plan
18. Direct election of Senators by the people.
19. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Workplace safety laws
20. Social Security
22. Peace corps
23. The Internet
24. National Weather Service
25. Product Labeling/Truth in Advertising Laws
26. Rural Electrification/Tennessee Valley Authority
27. Morrill Land Grant Act
28. Public Universities
29. Bank Deposit Insurance
30. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
31. Consumer Product Safety Commission
32. Public Broadcasting/Educational Television
33. Americans With Disabilities Act
34. Family and Medical Leave Act
35. Environmental Protection Agency
36. Clean Air Act
37. Clean Water Act
39. Public Libraries
40. Transcontinental Railroad and the rail system in general
41. Civilian Conservation Corps
42. Panama Canal
43. Hoover Dam
44. The Federal Reserve
46. The United States Military
49. Local and state police departments
50. Fire Departments
51. Veterans Medical Care
52. Food Stamps
53. Federal Housing Administration
54. Extending Voting Rights to 18 year olds
55. Freedom of Speech
56. Freedom of Religion/Separation of Church and State
57. Right to Due Process
58. Freedom of The Press
59. Right to Organize and Protest
60. Pell Grants and other financial aid to students
61. Federal Aviation Administration/Airline safety regulations
62. The 13th Amendment
63. The 14th Amendment
64. The 15th Amendment
65. Unemployment benefits
66. Women’s Health Services
67. Smithsonian Institute
68. Head Start
70. Mine Safety And Health Administration (This has been weakened by conservatives, resulting in recent mining disasters.)
71. Food Labeling
73. Peace Corps
74. United Nations
75. World Health Organization
76. Nuclear Treaties
77. Lincoln Tunnel
78. Sulfur emissions cap and trade to eliminate acid rain
79. Earned Income Tax Credit
80. The banning of lead in consumer products
81. National Institute of Health
82. Garbage pickup/clean streets
83. Banning of CFCs.
84. Erie Canal
86. School Food Program for Children in Poverty
87. Bail Out of the American Auto Industry
88. Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
89. Wildlife Protection
90. End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
91. Established the basis for Universal Human Rights by writing the Declaration of Independence
92. Miranda Rights
93. Banning of torture
94. The right to a proper defense in court
95. An independent judiciary
96. The right to vote
97. Fair, open, and honest elections
98. The right to bear arms (Do you really think extreme right wingers would allow anybody besides themselves to have firearms if in power?)
99. Health care for children and pregnant women
100. A stable and strong government established by a Constitution
101. The founding of The United States of America
102. The defeat of the Nazis and victory in World War II
104. The Brady Handgun Act
105. The Glass-Steagall Act (It has since been repealed and we’ve all been paying the price for it.)
106. Oil industry regulations (The Gulf paid the price after conservatives tore many of these regulations down under GWB.)
107. The Affordable Care Act which makes insurance companies more honest and fair.
108. Woman’s Right to Choose
109. Title IX
110. Affirmative Action
111. A National Currency
112. National Science Foundation
113. Weights and measures standards
114. Vehicle Safety Standards
116. The income tax and power to tax in general, which have been used to pay for much of this list.
117. 911 Emergency system
118. Tsunami, hurricane, tornado, and earthquake warning systems
119. Public Transportation
120. The Freedom of Information Act
121. Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery
122. Antitrust legislation which prevents corporate monopolies (These laws have been savaged by conservatives, which is why corporations are getting huger and competition is disappearing leading to less jobs and high prices.)
123. Water Treatment Centers and sewage systems
124. The Meat Inspection Act
125. The Pure Food And Drug Act
126. The Bretton Woods system
127. International Monetary Fund
128. SEC, which regulates Wall Street. (Conservatives have weakened this regulatory body, resulting in the current recession.)
129. National Endowment for the Arts
130. Campaign finance laws (Conservatives have gutted these laws, leading to corporate takeovers of elections.)
131. Federal Crop Insurance
132. United States Housing Authority
133. Soil Conservation
134. School Lunch Act
135. Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act
136. Vaccination Assistance Act
137. Over the course of nearly 50 years, liberals contributed greatly to the eventual end of the Cold War.
138. The creation of counterinsurgency forces such as the Navy Seals and Green Berets.
139. Voting Rights Act, which ended poll taxes, literacy tests, and other voter qualification tests.
140. Civil Rights Act of 1968
141. Job Corps
142. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
143. Teacher Corps
144. National Endowment for the Humanities
145. Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966
146. National Trails System Act of 1968
147. U.S. Postal Service
148. Title X
149. Kept the Union together through Civil War and rebuilt the South afterwards.
150. Modern Civilization
UPDATE: Daily Kos has a more succinct reply to “The Fence” here.