11 April 2006

Am I a liberal?

The election season is starting to heat up. Scandals rock DC on what seems like a daily basis. The public is split, at least according to the polls, on many major issues. We are heading toward a political (and probably historical) crossroad. Now is the time for people to stand up for what they believe, and to help move the country in the right direction.

But where do I stand? Sometimes I have a hard time figuring that out.

I think of myself as a moderate, but whenever I take one of those online political spectrum tests, it tells me that I am a liberal. One of them even called me a socialist. I just don't get it. Why aren't my views middle of the road?

I believe that it is better to let a guilty man walk free than to incarcerate someone who is innocent, and that our legal system should err in that direction whenever possible. I believe that privacy is essential if a country is to truly be free, and that the convenience of law enforcement should come in second when weighed against privacy rights. I also believe that people who commit crimes should be held responsible for their actions, and that prison sentences should be considered to be a punishment for those actions, not just as an opportunity to rehabilitate the offender.

I believe that parents, not the government, are the best judge of what children should be exposed to on television and the internet, and that parents have both the right and the responsibility to oversee what their children watch and where they surf.

I believe that both religion and the government are better off when they are rigidly separated from each other.

I believe that the right to bear arms implies a responsibility to use them appropriately and safely, and that the government should be able to link the responsibility with the right.

I believe that all Americans should have an equal opportunity to succeed. I believe that the best route toward this ideal involves education, and that it is in everyone's best interests to have the government fully fund education for everyone here.

I do not believe that my ancestors would have wanted to lock the doors of Ellis Island behind them.

I believe that having a strong military is in the best interests of our country. I do not believe that our leaders have always used the military appropriately.

I believe that decisions about the economy and the environment should be made, as much as possible, from the perspective of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I do not believe that they should be made based on the next election cycle, much less the next news cycle.

I do not believe that there are many politicians in Washington who are capable of thinking past the next news cycle. I think that is a bad thing.

I do not believe that spreading American ideals around the world is a bad idea. I do believe that it should be done by example. It certainly should not be done at the point of a gun.

I believe that corporations will act in the best interests of their shareholders whenever possible. I do not believe that the best interests of the shareholders will always correspond to the best interests of the environment, the economy, or the country. The government should, when necessary, stand up against the corporations to protect the rights of citizens.

I believe that if the health of our economy depends on a having certain unemployment rate, then we do have a responsibility to help the unemployed. We also need to recognize that unemployment isn't completely random, and that some people will be more likely to be laid off than others. We need to do what we can to give them a better chance to stay employed.

I do not believe that any of the things I've said are unreasonable or illogical, and I don't know why they make me "liberal." Personally, I think "common sense" is a much more accurate description.

But if "liberal" really is the best word to describe those beliefs, than I am proud to be a liberal.
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