Hypothetically, I Shouldn’t Be A Liberal

One of the things that amuses me is when I see the typical demographic of Tea Party or “true conservative” Republican Party members.  Why does it amuse me?  Well, I fall into that demographic as well.  I’m in my 50’s, a rural white male.  My childhood was spent in rural areas,  and  today I live in one.  We were (and are)  hard working, independent, “take care of yourself and your family” people.  I had a strong religious background, in fact, many people assumed that when I grew up I’d be a minister.  I went to college, joined the military afterward, and after leaving, went to work in the private sector.  I even ran my own business for a few years.  So “obviously” I should be a conservative Republican, not a liberal Democrat!

So why am I a liberal Democrat?   It’s because I can see what government does, as well as having experienced it.  I have family oral histories as well as having studied history, as to what various government programs – or their lack – meant. It doesn’t mean I think government should be involved in everything, shouldn’t be closely monitored, or that it’s perfect, but I’m not dumb enough to believe that we don’t need it or most of the things it does that the current iteration of “conservative” would have you believe.

Like what?  Public education for one thing.   A couple of years ago a commenter here assumed that I’d gone to private schools.  No, I went to public schools.  There was a time – and around here, it still is – when education was not only valued, public schools were strongly supported.  I learned the “3 R’s” and more, and it was all paid for by taxes.   Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I can look back and say that I received a good education in those schools.   What about college?  Well, I went on a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and what I made working.  Those scholarships and grants?  Government provided.  The loans?  Government guaranteed.  Yes, I could afford to go to college because the state and federal governments thought if someone wanted to go to college, they should be able to do so even if their parents couldn’t pay for it.  In fact, the colleges I went to were state colleges, built and paid for by the state government, which meant “subsidized tuition.”    After that, my graduate education was paid for by … the government.  Yes, I took advantage of the government’s willingness to pay tuition for active duty military.   I can look around at many of my age group in this area, and see the same thing.  We’re solid members of society, educated, taxpayers … because of “social spending” on education.  That’s why I cringe when I see the various cuts and attacks made on public education by conservatives.  There’s a difference between “fiscal responsibility” and what they’re doing.

The second reason is infrastructure.  As I’ve mentioned, I live in the largest state park in the country, in fact, larger than most national parks.  All around me is infrastructure paid for by government.  I drive on public roads to get to work.  If I want to go fishing, hiking, or camping, it’s all feasible because of state infrastructure.  Boat launches, trails, campgrounds are all here, and they were the result of public spending.  It’s now a linchpin of the local economy.  Most of the “founding families” up here can tell you stories of how they got through the Depression:  Building those facilities.  Yes, my family as well.  I’ve lived – and run a business – in a “low tax, small government” area, and you know what?  It wasn’t all that great for me as a businessman.  Things that I used to take for granted in my “overtaxed state” suddenly weren’t around.  Just as an example, roads weren’t plowed very often, let alone paved.  It’s not very conducive to business when you either can’t make it to a work site, are seriously delayed getting there, or can’t get supplies delivered because of that.  My business – and most businesses – depended on there being a public infrastructure around them.  Construction, renovation, and maintenance funding is one of the areas that conservatives have been slashing, with the result that many “red states” are now having to turn formerly paved roads into gravel roads.  There are a number of bridges, dams, water, and sewer systems which are in serious need of repair.  All of which impacts business, and funding for which is … not appearing. But hey, low taxes!

The third reason is regulations.  Yes, I know, it’s popular among conservatives to moan about the “burden” of regulations.  Sure, anyone can point to some inane one or one that had unintended consequences.  But as I’ve stated here in the past, regulations turn out to be necessary.  One of the advantages of being older is that I remember what it was like before those “horrible environmental rules” came into being.   I haven’t heard of a river catching on fire for quite some time, although it used to be a regular occurrence in “the good old days.”  I’ve also had enough education that covered the history of laws relating to various things.  Gosh, in the good old days, you could buy any drug, and it might not kill you!  It wouldn’t cure anything, but at least it wasn’t regulated.  Buying food?  Well, if you were careful, the meat might not be spoiled, the cans might not contain botulism, and well, heck, a little food poisoning wasn’t too bad.  Those were all things that were routine in the past, along with badly polluted air and toxic waste dumps next to homes.  At the time, they were considered “a bad thing,” and we demanded our government do something about it, which meant … regulations.  We’ve managed to clean things up a lot, we generally know drugs work, we consider it “big news” if there’s any food poisoning outbreaks, and in general things are a lot better.

The final reason is the safety nets.  Yes, plural.  Today we take them for granted, although there’s always people who either think they’re unnecessary, or “too expensive.”  Usually the same people who rely on yet another safety net.  One example was during the shutdown, when ranchers in South Dakota were hit with a blizzard which killed their cattle:

The state’s ranchers could apply for disaster relief under the Livestock Indemnity Program that would pay them a portion of the animal’s market value.

Yes, a “safety net” for them, just like the one that farmers have with subsidized crop insurance.  Back in “the good old days” they pine for, what would have happened is that they’d have been … out of business.  The same for farmers who lost their crops.  Not just out of ranching or farming, but “pack up and get out.”   The reason that those programs exist today is because “liberals,” who were often those same farmers and ranchers’ ancestors, thought it was a “bad thing,” and worked to get those programs into place.  It used to be common that when you got old, you were often in dire poverty.  Social Security helped make that better, and Medicare helped as well.   Childhood nutrition programs?  Not just because they made people “feel good,” but because it turns out if you want healthy adults for things like … a draft … or need a healthy population for a modern economy,  you need to make sure that children have an adequate diet right from the start.   Across the spectrum of programs, I know people who are on them, who benefit from them, and need them.  Not because they’re “unwilling to work,” or “lazy,” but because they  can’t work,  jobs are unavailable, or the jobs they have don’t pay.

Those are why I’m a “liberal Democrat.”  I’m pragmatic though.  I’m absolutely willing to discuss any and all of them as long as the results are better.   I don’t have much patience with people who tell me they should be done away with, and point to an exception to the general rule as a reason.  Tell me how you’d fix the exception instead.   Oh, and if you want to discuss doing away with some “entitlements?”  I have a pretty good list of the ones I’m willing to do away with.  I’m also sure that they’re the ones that would cause conservatives to scream the loudest.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Hypothetically, I Shouldn’t Be A Liberal

  1. Nice to know I’m not alone out there.

    • There’s quite a few of us out here. :-)

    • nathkatun7

      Well, I am not a wasp, but I am at least older than Norbrook and know a little bit about the “good old times,” which were not as good as people try to make them out to be. Imagine what the last five yearswould have looked like, amidst the Great Recession (I personally call it the second Great Depression), if we didn’t have govt. programs like SS, Medicare, Food stamps, and Unemployment Insurance. Imagine also what state the economy would be in if the govt. hadn’t rescued the Auto industry and enacted the modest stimulus law. As someone who has read a little, and has been around for almost 70 years, I can’t recall a time when “Laissez Faire” capitalism, advocated by free market fundamentalists, has brought about economic and social Utopia.

  2. Cappadonna

    Great Insight, Sir

  3. Dennis Bossinger

    The scoundrel are after billions in tax payer money ; prisons, schools, fighting wars, infrastructure building and management under the guise of efficiency and frugality when in fact its just the opposite; projection of waste and inefficiency onto the public sector while they are doing it themselves.

  4. Nicely stated Norbrook and I share a lot of similar characteristics. Empathy seems to be instilled in some of us more than others and leads us to support a government that offers basic social safety net programs.

    No, we don’t want people to become dependent on it but that too is a myth about welfare. Few are really dependent on it and many try to get off of it as fast as they can. But that requires a job market created by the private sector with decent wages. This sadly seems to have gone the way of the Dodo.

    • We can even point to “jobs created by the government,” which conservatives don’t seem to believe happens. :roll: As I said in the post infrastructure. Many of the campgrounds and other recreational facilities here in the Adirondacks – and elsewhere around the country – were built as part of a massive “government welfare plan:” The Civilian Conservation Corps. That some 70 years later those same facilities are in use, says a lot about how good that was. They also – along with a lot of other things – need repair work. Which means: Jobs.

      • What ticks me off are the RW politicians who are employed by the government and say that government can’t create jobs. They never seem to realize that the federal and state governments created their jobs. I’ve never witnessed such stupidity from them and those who support this nonsense. These are the same people who were screaming a couple weeks ago when the first “snowstorm” hit here in GA and they were stuck in their cars on the highways in the Atlanta area for hours and hours. They don’t seem to understand that it isn’t logical for one to refuse to pay a one cent tax increase and complain when certain highway-related/emergency services are unavailable. The RW lemmings voted against the SPLOST in 2013 which would have provided money for highway construction and emergency-related services.

        The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported last week that the Federal Dept. of Homeland Security deemed GA’s emergency preparedness program to be grossly inadequate. Those who voted against the SPLOST proposal because they didn’t want to pay an extra penny in tax said that the reason they voted against it was because they “don’t trust the state lawmakers to spend the money on infrastructure.” This makes no sense to me. They voted for the republican lawmakers. If they feel they can’t trust them, why do they keep voting for them every d*amn time? These same folks say nothing about the RW lawmakers giving businesses billions of our tax dollars in the form of subsidies, but they balk at paying one extra penny in taxes for infrastructure. This just goes to show that many of the tea partiers here in GA aren’t known for possessing many critical thinking skills. I guess it’s why it’s so easy for the RW politicians to exploit their fears and biases for their own benefit and the benefit of the one and two percenters–they like to keep things plain and simple, and thinking too deeply causes them to become extremely frustrated.

  5. see above

    Wonderful, like you my profile doesn’t equal liberal I’ve taking to using “unrepentent hippy” since so many seem to be trying to atone for something by getting cranky and conservative. When I get the government regulations bit I use the regs wouldn’t exist if some bad actor hadn’t bent the curve so badly something had to be done. I point out the politicians don’t just sit around thinking what can we do to make things more difficult for people and/or business. I think you really hit on something with the history because I heard it from grandparents, parents, extended family and teachers all people who lived it. I think some of that oral history has been lost because of mobility. I am puzzled though by the number of farmers who vote R these days union guys too. Of course I can’t understand why anyone not in the 1% would vote R.

    • One of the things I do sometimes is to point to China, and their problems with air pollution. Then I point out to them that in the 1940’s, that was many cities in the US. We don’t see that anymore here, and it’s because of regulations. I’ve also said to some on both sides that I’m not welded to methods, I’m welded to results. In other words, I don’t care what you do to get your emissions down, as long as your emissions are down.

      • nathkatun7

        “One of the things I do sometimes is to point to China, and their problems with air pollution. Then I point out to them that in the 1940′s, that was many cities in the US”

        Well, Norbrook, you are being overly generous about the dates. Believe me, air pollution here in CA was just as severe, in the 1960s and 1970s, as it’s now in China. It’s truly miraculous how government regulations on auto emissions cleaned up the air in CA, and especially in major cities like Los Angeles. Guess what? All the predictions that requiring clean air standards for cars driven in CA, and for gasoline sold in CA, would result in the loss of jobs turned out to be totally bogus. If California had listened to free market right wing fundamentalists, California air would be much worse than the air in China. I suppose hospitals would be doing lucrative business treating people with severe respiratory problems.