In the 1930s, a congressman named Maury Maverick defined liberalism in three words: “Freedom plus groceries.” That’s how I define it, too. Liberalism is a both/and philosophy. There is no freedom without groceries. There are no groceries without freedom. What people call “capitalism” and “socialism” are actually one and inseparable. It’s a virtuous circle.
Consider healthcare. We all of us—libertarians, conservatives and liberals—want a growing economy. And we all agree that a growing economy requires entrepreneurial dynamism.
So ask yourself this: In a country in which health insurance isn’t guaranteed, how many millions of Americans with great ideas find it impossible to become entrepreneurs because they’re terrified to leave their job, because then they would lose their health insurance and ruin their lives if they get sick?
Now, in response to something like that, you’ll hear my fellow debaters repeat a curious fallacy, a crushing intellectual failure. They’ll act like only governments have the power to deprive citizens of freedom.
Consider, however, a corporation like Walmart, which had $447 billion in revenue this year, bigger than the gross domestic product of all but seventeen of the world’s nations. But according to libertarianism and conservatism, Walmart can only produce liberty. It can never curtail it. Even if they fire you for no reason at all—and by law there’s nothing you can do about it.
Conservatives and libertarians somehow believe that you are freer if an entity bigger than the economies of Austria, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates is simply left alone to act against you in whatever way it wishes. Only liberals know how to make you freer on the job, which is where most of us suffer the gravest indignities in our lives.
Liberals, in fact, make you freer everywhere. Look at liberty’s greatest historic advances: ending slavery. Giving women the vote. Outlawing legal segregation.
Each and every time, the people at the forefront of advancing those reforms—often putting their lives on the line—called themselves liberals.
Each and every time, people who called themselves conservatives announced that those reforms would unravel civilization.
Then—each and every time—once the reform was achieved and taken for granted, and civilization didn’t collapse, conservatives claimed to have always been for it, even holding themselves up as the best people to preserve it.
It happens with economic reforms too.
You know personally I despise labels, I have never felt that I was a good fit for ANY of them.
I always have to alter the existing ones in some way in order to make them fit.
The jock who refuses to play on a sports team.
The intellectual who lifts weights while reading Socrates.
The tough guy who tears up during Kleenex commercials.
The eternal round peg constantly being forced into a square hole. It gets tiresome constantly disappointing people who think they have me figured out.
However when it comes to being a liberal I feel pretty comfortable wearing that insignia. (You know, if we had one of those.) And I did so even when the conservatives were trying to turn the word "liberal" into a label of shame.
I am absolutely in support of freedom for all, equality among the sexes, and judging others by the quality of their character rather than the color of their skin. I want the playing field to be even, I believe in sharing the wealth, and I think the education of our children should take precedence over EVERYTHING!
However fiscally I am quite conservative, owning just the one credit card, which I use only occasionally and then always pay off immediately.
I do not partake in recreational drugs of ANY kind, not even pot, and drink one glass of wine about two or three time a week.
And I was quite traditional in how I raised my child as well, as evidenced by this graphic my daughter posted on Facebook earlier today.
So am I proud to be MY version of a liberal? Why yes I am!
Just as I am proud to have handed down my values to my daughter, who today is also a liberal.
Well HER version of one at least.