I am a liberal because…

This is how I feel.

I’m a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does. Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:

  1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.
  2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
  3. I believe education should be affordable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
  4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
  5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
  6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.
  7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; compulsory prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize my right to live according to my beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
  8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the same rights as you.
  9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).
  10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
  11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
  12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
  13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is the enforcement of present laws and enacting new, common sense gun regulations. Got another opinion? Put it on your page, not mine.
  14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?
  15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
  16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.

Author Unknown

White Handmaidens of Bigotry

There are many things I do not understand:

Women who wish to take another women’s rights away.  Blacks who support Trump.  Persons who want to decide who I marry and who I love.

But in all honesty, I am prejudice.  I always have been, at least, when old enough to comprehend life.  However, my female prejudice against wearing make-up and  skirts…pales in comparison to the following.

We know that 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump. We know that some white women are so blinded by their privilege, their racism, and a patriarchal system that insists their lives as wives and mothers are “precious” that they happily carry water for the white men in hoods and iron crosses. We know that some white women march right alongside them in neo-Nazi rallies, drop racial slurs on social media, and push racist legislation in Congress. And we know this has been going on for a long, long time—well before Trump’s Klansman father was born. However, viewing white women’s involvement in perpetuating white supremacy solely through their relationships with men not only denies their agency, but assuages their culpability. As the old saying goes, men talk, women do.

Historian Elizabeth Gillespie McRae’s new book, Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy, is a fascinating, meticulously researched, and damning look into the myriad ways white women have consciously worked to aid racial segregation in the Jim Crow South and sanctify their racially pure vision of white motherhood. The book focuses on four women—Florence Sillers Ogden, Mary Dawson Cain, Cornelia Dabney Tucker, and Nell Battle Lewis—across multiple generations of white-supremacist activism; it takes us from Deep South racism in the “progressive” 1920s to the mob of screaming white mothers who greeted Black schoolgirl Ruby Bridges in 1960 New Orleans through the Boston school busing controversy of the mid ’70s.

For decades, these four women and others performed “myriad duties that upheld white over Black: censoring textbooks, denying marriage certificates, deciding on the racial identity of their neighbors, celebrating school choice, canvassing communities for votes, and lobbying elected officials.” They taught their children that racial hierarchies were not only scientific and just, but actually God’s will; that Black people preferred segregation; Black boys were unintelligent and sexually overdeveloped; Black men were dangerous; and falling in love, marrying, or having children with Black men was the most horrific thing a white girl could do and would hasten the extinction of the white race. (The alt-right “white genocide” meme is nothing new). They formed political action committees, penned newspaper columns, passed out pamphlets, rallied for white-supremacist politicians, and leaned on their maternal image to manipulate the discourse.

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After 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling destroyed the fictional idea that white people were the most responsible shepherds of racial justice and Black Americans were happy under segregation, these women pivoted to a family-focused political ideology that painted the Supreme Court decision as federal overreach that threatened mothers’ authority over their own children. This tactic attracted more moderate and liberal types to their cause, and effectively feminized mass resistance (a term used for the package of laws passed in 1956 that aimed to uphold Jim Crow and delay school integration). For white-supremacist women, the home and the school were their battlegrounds, and their most sacred duty as mothers was to keep them free of Black influence. According to McRae, without their efforts, “white supremacist politics could not have shaped local, regional, and national politics the way it did or lasted as long as it has.”

One of the more intriguing political tidbits from the book is the way white-supremacist politics criss-crossed party lines, with its proponents hopscotching between Democrat, Republican, Jeffersonian Democrat, New Right, and the catchall “conservative” tag. To simplify a complex development, following decades of pushing white supremacist policies, the Democratic Party’s growing acceptance of desegregation and racial equality inspired a mass exodus of white Southern women, and led them to seek representation elsewhere. McRae is careful, however, to illustrate that white-supremacist politics were not confined to the South; in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, and Boston, white supremacy manifested under the cover of dog whistles and obfuscation, where parents weren’t racist for not wanting their white kids to share classrooms with Black students, they were just “concerned about school choice.”

The parallels between the past and our current state are stark, and often unsettling. Everything old is new again, just repackaged and refurbished to suit a new audience. We can find echoes of newspaper owner, columnist, and constitutional fanatic Mary Dawson Cain in the rise of both conservative pundits like Tomi Lahren and white supremacy mouthpieces Lauren Southern and Brittany Pettibone, all of whom espouse “traditional” viewpoints that range from casually racist to virulently white supremacist. Nell Battle Lewis—with her liberal education, outraged editorializing, and patronizing “color-blind” view of her Black acquaintances—is the spiritual foremother to today’s “woke” white feminists, who “don’t see color” and sport vagina hats with pride, but balk at any sort of intersectional analysis of feminism, privilege, or power.

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We see the ideological granddaughters of Cornelia Dabney Tucker—who organized the sending of countless handwritten letters decrying the Brown v. Board of Education ruling—in the white women who now send panicked tweets about Black Lives Matter. Elsewhere, Florence Sillers Ogden’s efforts to brand the labor movement as “un-American” and blame outbreaks of racist violence on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s willingness to freely socialize with people of color would fit right in on any race-baiting FOX News segment. Roosevelt was a target of ire for white segregationist women—her progressive politics and commitment to racial equality rendered her little more than a communist witch in their estimation; one can’t help but think of the way Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton—herself a polarizing, deeply flawed, yet (comparatively) progressive political powerhouse—was treated during her presidential run, and how much of the white female electorate turned on her in the end.

As I read their stories, I saw my mother’s face. The same cold, quiet cruelty that emanates from the photos in Mothers of Massive Resistance stared back at me 15 years ago, when she told me that my boyfriend Aaron* wasn’t allowed to come to our house for junior-prom pictures. He was a skater kid from a nice family who lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood my family could have never dreamed of affording or fitting into—but since he had locs and dark skin, she forbid me from seeing him again. I remember how she told me, in what she must have imagined to be a comforting tone, “He’s a nice kid, but it just ain’t right.”

The lessons I learned about whiteness, class, and the lengths that white folks will go to protect their ideas have been a foundational part of my political development, and are why I felt it was important to engage with this book and the uncomfortable history it reveals. The task of dismantling white supremacy rests on the shoulders of those who benefit most from it. It’s on us to confront racist, white supremacist white people who assume they can count on us to smile along or stay silent when they step out of line; it’s on us to ditch that poisonous “color-blind” worldview and understand the ways in which race, identity, and political/social power intersect; it’s on us to publicly, materially, enthusiastically, and genuinely support people of color, to confront and interrogate our own internalized racism and learned prejudices without expecting people of color to educate us.

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It’s on us to protest side by side with people of color against this racist, fascist, xenophobic regime. When the cops show up, it’s on us to recognize that no matter our specific identities, they will see us above all as white women, and this affords us a vast measure of safety and privilege. We must understand that it is up to us to put our bodies on the front lines to provide cover for those who are under greater threat. It’s on us to do that work, to shut up and listen, to make space for marginalized voices and recognize when we’re veering into performative, self-serving, or otherwise hollow allyship.

The entirety of that 53 percent of white women didn’t vote for Trump because of “economic anxiety;” some of them were voting to uphold an ancient, bloody order, and those sins cannot be forgiven. We need to educate ourselves, and perhaps even more importantly, to educate our children. Mothers of Massive Resistance shows how effective white women’s historical efforts to influence the school curriculum in favor of their own views have been; we’ve done it before, and now we must do it again to ensure that the next generations grow up learning about the uncomfortable, violent, imperialist history of this nation. There have always been moderate, liberal, and radical white women who push back against white supremacy, but as the current state of our nation makes clear, we’ve been far less successful than we could be, and that failure has resulted in decades of unfathomable suffering.

McRae’s book shines a harsh light on our status as collaborators and progenitors in the mainstream white-supremacist movement, and is essential reading for any white woman who seeks to understand our history—and our responsibility to those we’ve failed. White male faces dominate the discourse around the way violent white supremacy has spilled into the mainstream, but lest we forget, there were white women in Charlottesville, too—and while many of us marched alongside Heather Heyer, some of them were there to continue the work their foremothers began. We cannot dismantle what we refuse to confront. White women, we have work to do.

*Aaron is a pseudonym to protect the person’s identity.

KIM KELLY/Noisey

A Day in the Life

DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE and JANE REPUBLICAN AMERICANS.
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it too. Jane prepares her morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Jane’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat-packing industry.
In the morning shower, Jane reaches for her shampoo. Her bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for her right to know what she was putting on her body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Jane begins her work day. She has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Jane’s employer pays these standards because Jane’s employer doesn’t want her employees to call the union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It’s noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Jane has to pay her Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and her below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Jane and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over her lifetime.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.
Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have!”

the since when, Feminist

Since when did liberal mean…solicitous, radical or riotous?  Since when did feminist mean…severe and dowdy?

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“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

-JFK, Profiles in Courage

Radical ’89

 

As she sat  banging away at the keyboard.  Sitting in front of the forever writing device…always allowed her to think of the ‘days’.  The flashes of time that were many; dangerous and stringy with a writer’s thoughts.  College days!  Four years of higher minds and the banging out of ‘Baby Dyke’  autobiography.

RandomwordbyRuth wasn’t even a zit on liberal’s ass…in those times.
Course, the autobiography would not be entitled, Baby Dyke!  It was to be given the simple listing as…the Cancer part I and the Cancer part II.  But when you are fresh out of a cluttered closet…the two are one in the same.
Twenty some odd years ago, the times they were a changing.  The college had decided that being single sexed…was not a profitable idea.  The student body of 1/4 feminist in training…felt that having a college president who’s morals were filled with corporate ideas…had been a selection poorly made.
Current day, the times were still a changing.  The keyboard had gone from a Royal Fleetwood ’72 to a, still in training, Chromebook  ’14.
The world had grown, immensely, and that had been, a most significant…revolution!
Our ancient times, college grad., was tallying polls, volunteers and/or anything else that moved and voted.
“How different?  How unique to see these persons…these albeit strangers…come together from homes, that were villages apart, and stand for a common cause.”
Children of preteen years, holding hands with both Mom and Dad…while heading out the doors of the staging location.  Inter-racial couples, two women who had married not days before, elderly men and blue collar workers!  All uniquely qualified to stand for a REVOLUTION!
Bernie Sanders had not only been the honoree to this vestige of canvassers.  He had also brought about something that many had never witnessed.
However, Mr. Sanders, stood for something, that a few, had sensed before.
She, the ancient college grad., started her own coo, back at that typewriter. Many years before.  Banging out the lyrics to, I Am Woman!  Preparing to take matters to the next level, if need be, the moment her school choose to go co-ed.
None of that went over well with her parents.  Particularly when a picture of her in torn up jeans…smoking a cigarette, vowing to sit out classes, showed up on the front page of the one and only state wide newspaper.
Today, yesterday and all the pages in between, didn’t really matter in the grander scheme of things.  Change was change was making a difference meant getting off the fence and standing up for things you believed in.
 There had years of volunteering to help combat the A.I.D.S., misconception.  Years spent helping recovering addicts.  Glimpses into times and tribulations of the abuse of animals.  All relative forms of service to the community.
Sitting back, now, I listen to 3 or 4 avid constituents of unconventional political party discussing… radical change.
Friendly arguments, civil humorous spats over the state of the state and the perishing world; the atmosphere is none different than twenty years ago.
 Most likely, other than decor and clothing style…no much has changed from those progressives sitting around a wood-stove.  Liberals that traveled for days to a little shack way north of the Mason Dixon line.  A tiny little cabin that would house the ideals of a hopeful few.  A hopeful organic cluster of people wanting to do away with slavery.
Course, being several years beyond my term at college, the ancient graduate that I am.
I just watch the prophets and the forward thinkers and wonder…
“If we all sat back.  There would be nothing in front of us that would be worth getting radical about.  Nothing should remain the same but change!”