I am a liberal. There, I said it. In some places that is a dirty word. I live in one of those places.
I live in the conservative bible-belt. My home state rarely votes Democratic – except for Obama in 2008 we typically support the Republican presidential candidate. My vote rarely counts. There are times when I wonder why I even bother to cast my vote. Resistance is futile? I know, I know. I should just move back North to my YANKEE blue state home. F-that. Maybe somehow, someway I can make just a little bit of a difference.
Right now I live in a *very* conservative county. My county is poor – except for the island beaches – and most of the people who own beach property are part-time/second home non-residents. The average county household income is about $44,000 a year (2009). That’s nearly $20,000 a year less than the Raleigh area that I moved from. I won’t tell you what percentage that was of my household’s all time high salary… you just don’t want to know. My county still has an unemployment rate over 10%. Somehow, all this is a recipe for conservative politics. I can not even comprehend why. Why do the poorest states and the poorest counties think that they will be paying for socialist policies? Au contraire. They will be benefiting from them.
Let me tell you why I am a liberal.
I care about the people who have pre-existing medical conditions and who can’t afford medical insurance. I think that no one deserves to be bankrupt by their medical bills. Yes Santorum, some people squander their health and clearly do not do the right things to maintain it. However, there are a lot of people (like me) who exercise every day, who eat healthy foods and who look like the picture of health who find out that they have developed a serious condition for unknown reasons. Maybe it is stress, maybe it was the environment, maybe it just happened… How can we deny healthcare to people who would benefit significantly from it? Let them die on the curb. I could not do that. Maybe socialized medicine would limit some choices, maybe it would slow things down a tad. Overall it would do society a greater good than allowing the one isolated individual who can afford their healthcare to benefit.
I care about animals – all of them. The gas chamber here kills more dogs and cats than I even want to think about. It is rumored to be more than any county in 3 states. That is so sad. Yes, it is a “liberal” agenda to charge more in dog license fees to register an unspayed or neutered dog. So what? How many of the puppies and kittens of those unfixed animals wind up in the pound and eventually in the gas chamber? I don’t want to know. Let’s make sure that our companion animals get the life that they deserve. We are all temporary residents on this planet created by who? God? The grand creator? Why should I have so many more rights to a decent life than my cat or your dog? A happy, loving home, a warm bed, a full belly. If we spay and neuter our pets the ones that remain have so much better of a chance to have that. People who treat their animals like property, like a coffee table or a ratty old couch that can just be discarded really disgust me.
I care about the environment. Drill baby drill. Really? Climate change is real. Turn your damn thermostat down, use less water and drive an efficient car and then let’s talk. My thermostat is at 66 during the day (upstairs… downstairs is only at 62) and 55 at night in the winter. In the summer I don’t venture below 78 degrees. We’ve put in dual flush low flow toilets. Now, on the subject of TMI – I don’t always flush. Seriously, does a 1/2 cup of pee need 1.6 gallons of flush? Shame on you – no it definitely DOES NOT. I once heard a quote that resonated with me “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” I can understand needing a truck for work, I can not understand driving a Hummer as a status vehicle. My long-haul vehicle gets 32-35 mpg. It’s about twice as good as our pickup which we use for hauling things out of necessity.
I care enough to recycle. Nothing makes me madder than folks who can’t bother to separate their recycling from their trash. Do you really think that we have an unlimited supply of aluminum for cans? Don’t you realize that it is cheaper to recycle a plastic bottle or a glass one for that matter than to create a new one from raw materials? Speaking of plastic – doesn’t it make you really upset to see sea animals trapped in plastic six pack holders or dead from ingesting pop tops or bottle caps? Yeah, it is just one fish or just one seabird or one otter, but how many do you think we get? I don’t want to be responsible for the next great extinction on this plant. Do you?
I care about people who love each other. Don’t you? They should be able to enjoy a life together with legal protections. Oh, you aren’t a man/woman couple? WHO CARES. If you care enough to hitch your little red wagon to someone else’s life you should be afforded the same benefits. Oh, that is totally disgusting – man on man or woman on woman! UH NO. That really doesn’t matter. I’m happy to stay out of your bedroom, provided you stay out of mine. If the conservative right thinks that they can police the sanctity of marriage they should be looking at making divorce illegal rather than preventing loving couples (of any gender) from sharing their lives. Besides, the gay population would totally get hammered by the marriage penalty…. I do not know a gay or lesbian couple where there is a stay-at-home spouse. If you can’t wrap your head around the sanctity of marriage thing – consider this – it would raise a LOT more taxes which will help pay for the programs I am advocating.
Ah yes, now the lightning rod. Abortion. I am oh so thankful that I have never have had to make that choice. But I am grateful that it is a choice. I have never wanted children. I know that isn’t the norm. Most women want children, yearn for children, dream for children. Not me. I would be a terrible parent. I am happy that I would have the option for an abortion, though it would be an awful choice to make – and I am not sure that I could even do that. I am glad that a raped co-ed can make that choice. I am happy that an incest victim can make that choice. I am overjoyed that someone who would die bearing a child can make that choice. I am relieved that someone who would be a really terrible parent can make that choice.
I care about immigrants. This country became truly great on the backs of immigrants. My parents were immigrants – legal – but immigrants none-the-less. Why do we educate the cream of the crop of foreigners in our post graduate programs and then send them home when their education visas expire? These people can create businesses and jobs. These people are truly motivated – and they will help our country continue to be a leader in technology and business. Why are we sending them “home” where they will create those businesses in countries that compete with the USA? We should give them green cards. Heck, we should give them citizenship.
I care about people who worship differently. I have friends who are Christian(evangelical and moderate), Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Agnostic, and Atheist. There’s probably a Buddhist in there too, but I can’t quite recall. I consider all of them to be good people. It’s not a matter of what your religion is, but of how you tread on this planet. Are you kind? Do you strive to connect with people who are different than you are and do you not try to change them? Every faith has been persecuted at some point in history. We need to take a step back and separate the person from the religion.
Ok, that’s all she wrote. Those are a lot of the reasons why I am a liberal. For better of worse I am an optimist. I think that we can make our society better by working together and accepting our differences. I don’t want you to change me, and I won’t try to change you.
Whatever you do – if you can – please keep an open mind. Maybe, just maybe that will make you a liberal just like me.