Last week I read two letters that were authored by Ron Reynolds and Greg Oerter. As always, I read their letters with an open mind. The market place of ideas is a beautiful thing. However, I was disappointed to see these two authors write yet another letter emphasizing a hatred for “liberals.” These diatribes might be more persuasive if the accusations reflected any of the tenants of liberalism, but they do not.
I will admit, liberalism has become a vague term over the last few decades. The campaign to transform the term into a puddle of negativity has been sadly successful. The Rush Limbaughs, Anne Coulters, and even MSNBC have done an incredible job distorting what it means to be liberal. I agree with Milton Friedman, “liberal” does not mean what it once did.
Like Milton Friedman, I still value the tenants of liberalism and I will continue to refer to myself as a liberal. In particular, there are two tenants of liberalism which I value above all others: 1. liberty; and 2. open mindedness.
Liberty, is the base of term of “liberal”. Liberty, generally, refers to limitations put on government or immunities from government. The First Amendment “Freedom of Press” clause is a good example of a liberty. The Bill of Rights is a liberal document. Liberalism emphasizes liberty. Liberalism rejects authoritarian government because authoritarianism interferes with liberty. Communism, is not liberalism because communism is authoritarian.
In a previous letter, I asked liberals to remember to be “open minded”. Open mindedness is at the core of liberalism. Study after study has demonstrated that people who consider themselves liberal are more flexible and open minded with their personal beliefs. As opposed to conservatives who adopt a belief and build a wall around that belief, refusing to accept a new belief (regardless of evidence disproving the belief). A liberal approaches issues with an understanding that a better way may exist. Therefore, liberals keep an open mind for when better solutions appear and are willing to accept the new belief.
These are two tenants of liberalism that I personally highly value. It is not a ideology about issues. It is an ideology on how to approach solving issues. It is an approach that says that every persons input is valuable in finding the solution and that the best solution is the one that requires the least amount of government interference with our lives- our lives as individuals and our lives as a collective.
In closing, I wish to relay a message to Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Oerter. Stop trying to attack liberalism. If you are so proud of being “conservatives” spend some time justifying the tenants of conservatism that you follow. Close minded negativity is no way to find a solution. That is the type of behavior that children get scolded for.