Carol Kuczora: What’s a ‘liberal?’
Ever notice when a word is frequently pronounced with a sneer, it turns into a pejorative? I’m still proud to be a liberal, though I never use the word anymore, precisely because it became semantically contaminated.
I prefer “ethical.” Think about what so-called liberals care about: compassion, fairness, sustainability, avoidance of anyone’s undeserved pain or loss. And what makes something ethical? Isn’t that the same?
There’s another problem word: “conservative.” It used to imply resistant to change. Now, radicals determined to change everything call themselves “conservative.” In place of democracy, they support government by Big Money and removal of national policies calculated to increase fairness and opportunity and to reduce undeserved pain and loss. These include the graduated income tax, free education and libraries, and regulatory agencies to assure everyone’s health and safety.
People who sport that “conservatism” have a different cognitive style from scientists and others who value evidence and logic. They’re obedient to authority, and resist evidence that contradicts preconceived notions.
To instill more compassion, farsightedness, and responsibility in such people, we could phrase challenges as questions: Who’s entitled to health care? Education? Jobs? A voice in democracy? Everyone, of course.
If they figure that out, wouldn’t it make them “liberal?”
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