I believe in helping the poor, the weak, the unlucky, the unrepresented. I think immigration is good for America. I believe in equal rights, and I believe we all have a responsibility to others, whether it’s paying our fair share of taxes, treating others with kindness and respect, being careful about our impact on the environment. I guess that makes me a liberal.

     So why is it that I find liberals so annoying? Liberal politicians are sanctimonious. Liberal newscasters try to make us feel guilty. Liberal academics look down their noses at us.

     Meanwhile, many liberals — many of the liberals I know anyway — preach integration and equal access but live in wealthy, segregated suburbs with exclusionary zoning codes. They rail against a border wall, but live behind walls of their own in gated communities. They preach environmentalism, but drive SUVs and jet around the world visiting ecotourism hot spots before these spots are ruined by the very people who are going there.

     That’s why sometimes I think I’m actually not a liberal, but a conservative. After all, I believe in law and order. I’m certainly not in favor of defunding police. But wait . . . if you’re a law-and-order conservative, doesn’t it make sense to put a lid on all the guns circulating around the country? I don’t want the criminals, the mentally ill, and all the impulsive and angry Americans to be so well-armed that they pose a threat to us every time we visit Chicago or Baltimore or set foot on a school campus.

     I also believe in environmentalism and conservation. Conservation. It’s right there in the word . . .  conservative! 

     I believe in personal responsibility. People should take care of themselves as best they can, and not be looking for free handouts from the government or anyone else. But that means higher estate taxes, because that’s just a free handout from someone else, and higher taxes on investments and unearned income, because — there again, it’s right there in the word unearned. You didn’t earn it so why should you be able to keep it all? It should be shared to support the social structures that allow us all to thrive in America — schools, roads, parks, childcare, a decent social safety net.

     It also means that people should be responsible for their own health and have medical insurance — rather than palming off their medical bills on hardworking Americans who have insurance through their employment. Therefore we should have a system that everyone can access — through the government if necessary — and also be required to join in and pay up . . . or pay up if they can, but if not at least people are not flooding emergency rooms and costing taxpayers billions of extra dollars. In other words, Medicare for all, or some such equivalent. So is Medicare for all conservative, or liberal? I’m not sure I know.

     I also believe in freedom. Freedom of speech, for sure (“cancel culture” is more than annoying, it’s dangerous), but more particularly, the freedom to live out our lives the way we want, as long as we’re not hurting anyone else. I live in Pennsylvania which is famous for the Amish. They have an unusual lifestyle. But they have the freedom in America to thrive and prosper in the way they see fit. So can, and should, Mormons, Muslims, Blacks, Hispanics, Hasidic Jews, men, women, gays, lesbians, the non-binary . . . and aging white dudes like myself.

     May we all be treated with respect, without harassment or discrimination, and be able to go to any restaurant we want, sit wherever we want, live wherever we want, and know that our children and grandchildren will be able to go to a decent school, breathe clean air, drink potable water, and not be burdened by the mountains of debt, or the ancient prejudices, left behind by their parents.

Tom Lashnits Writer, Blogger
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