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On Being a Liberal

Susan B. Anthony/Harriet Beecher Stowe, originally uploaded by feserc.

I must say that at times I grow tired of politics. I also grow tired of some of the petty, one-dimensional (partisan) discussions I see on Facebook and in other places. On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of political rhetoric and the way it has shaped our nation, and other nations. The more I study rhetoric the more I love the voices who stood for the disenfranchised. In my opinion those voices were and are liberal.

The word liberal, simply defined, is as follows: “Open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.” There’s nothing dirty or shameful in that, and there never will be.

It was Susan B. Anthony who cast aside traditional values to demand suffrage for women. She voted and it landed her in jail. She demanded to stay there so her case could go to the Supreme Court of the United States, but her lawyer bailed her out, much to her chagrin. Surely one of the great spirits to walk the earth.

Martin Luther King told of a dream in which we will all “…one day live in a nation where [we] will not be judged by the color of [our] skin, but by the content of [our] character,” at a time when segregation of minorities was accepted, particularly in the south of America. His expansive notion was a liberal notion.

FDR was a privileged American who chose liberal thought over easy affluence: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little,” said he. He too, was a liberal.

These are some of my heroes, and also the reason I’m proud to be a liberal–not a democrat. If we broaden our minds, the world will broaden also. In the end, this is not a political, or even intellectual paradigm.

It’s a matter of the heart.

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