The Eclectic Quill


It’s my estimation that perhaps the United Kingdom is the most conservative of the European nations. Certianly they have been the most favorable to us politically over the last few years. Imagine for a moment if you will someone running with Barack Obama’s platform over there. They would be looking to increase, by more than 1000 percent the money spent on defense, privatizing health care, considerably freeing up the restrictions on gun control and proposing an enormous cut in taxes. In short, he would immediately be the furthest to right of any European politician.

Meanwhile, back in the USA a poll was conducted recently which showed that only 10 percent of Americans identify themselves as both socially and politically liberal. Meanwhile another poll has Obama winning over the "moderates". (I would post links but this is a permanent addition and the links are not likely to be). Another poll indicates that nearly three quarters of Americans right now identify with the Democratic position. So why is it that in the face of all of this the word "liberal" has become a pejorative? Why is it the Republicans are trying to label the man who is probably the second most conservative person running for a national office in a first world nation with a realistic chance of winning as ‘liberal"?

I believe there are three reasons for this. One is the demoniziation of the word itself, and the particularly spiteful way George H. W. Bush had of saying it. At least that’s the first I recall "liberal" being reduced somehow into four little letters.  Since then the Republican campaign strategy is pretty simple. Label the guy you’re running against a liberal. Forget it if you actually agree with the guy. He’s a liberal! Liberal=bad and he’s a liberal. It worked and so they keep doing it. Four years ago John Kerry was the most liberal Senator. Now it’s somehow Barack. Make the other guy seem extreme. Then you aren’t.

However it would never work the same way with "conservative." Conservative doesn’t have t he bad connotation that we give  it. I’ve  given this a  lot of consideration and I believe it can be best explained by a scene from the sitcom Friends. You might recall the episode where Joey wins the sil boat in the auction. He has no idea how to sail though, so Rachel, whose father had taught her "the ropes" offered to give him some lessons. Well as the lessons proceeded Joey wasn’t so much interested in learning as he was letting Rachel do the work while he drank beer. When she presses him about this he says he’s going to quit. Finally Rachel, screams, "You can’t quit! Greens don’t quit!"

Joey, replies earnestly, "Well I’m not a Green, I’m a Triviani and Trivianis quit."

Rachel, suddenly realizing that she’s using her father’s words sits down crushed and remorses, "Oh my God! I’ve become my father! I’ve been trying so hard not to become my mother! I did not see this coming."

So what’s this got to do with politics. Well here’s my thought. For thirty years we were trying to not become communist and we resisted that with every inch of national pride we had. In fact we tried so hard not to be communist we pushed ourselves right up against fascism without even noticing. Now I’m not saying that we are fascist, but I’m saying we’re in a lot more danger of being fascist than we are of being communist. However that fear of communism? It still works, and it works every time someone throws around the "L" word.

Which brings us to the third reason, which is a sort of national ignorance when it comes to the rest of the world and the state of other nations. To talk to some people you get the impression that if you get sick in Europe you have to wait four months to get seen. You get the impression that the medical care is worse than ours, or that their quality and standard of care is lower. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that America ranks in the 30s among nations. The more "liberal" nations do a lot of things better than we do. As a nation we work longer hours and receive less holidays than any industrialized nation, including Japan. We have wrong perceptions of the rest of the world and as a result we don’t realize that we, not everyone else are the extreme. That’s why we look at someone with a pretty conservative stance and label him "liberal" without much of an afterthought.

In posting my political entires my goal is to go past the rhetoric, past the media hype, past the spin, and analyze things from a more objective viewpoint. Of course everyone says they are objective. But by objective what I mean is being factual.

Commenting is encouraged on my political blogs, even if there are some you disagree with. I just request that disagreements be met with substantive debate and civil discourse.

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