The Tree has not been political in a while. It had a run of a year or so where it was dedicated solely to politics. Several posts a day, covering the news of the day or just some pet project of mine. It was good...but it was exhausting...so it stopped. I had decided to make this a very non-political personal blog because A) I didn't feel like being "controversial" and B) if you know me, you know I like writing about myself. But, I suppose since politics is important to me, it should play a small role in my personal blog.
So, I will write three political posts over the next week starting with this one. I will begin by saying I'm sure someone, somewhere, possibly (probably) even someone I know and like we'll think I'm an idiot, will be insulted or offended, or disagree completely. That's fine. Just know that for people I know and like, I don't personally judge a person based on their politics even if I think they are wrong. If you feel I've villainized you or your beliefs, I apologize, but I still like you so don't hold it against me. If I don't know or like you, then I don't care if I hurt your feelings, so that's cool too.
This first post will be on defining liberalism. I'm not talking about classic political science liberalism for all you poli-sci majors...I'm talking about modern era big D Democratic party side liberalism and what it still is or at least should be.
I too often see mischaracterizations of liberals and modern liberal politics. It happens on both sides of the aisle, but mostly (and understandably) on the right. Basically, anything that is liberal in this Fox-news, post Woodstock, stuck in Vietnam War, tea-party having, paradigm shifted political world...is considered "far-left" even by those who consider themselves "moderate".
You want to know who I consider to be mainstream liberal? Nancy Pelosi. That is a mainstream, died-in-the-wool, not too far left, not too close to the middle...liberal. Also, she has the largest balls in the Democratic party.
I can see my "moderate" and right-wring brethren sighing now but just listen for crying out loud. I'll make the case and show you.
An example of a far left, progressive liberal is Dennis Kucinich. An example of a moderate Democrat is Harry Reid. An example of a mainstream liberal is Nancy Pelosi. The reason why is simple...the policies they would support.
I'm going have a hypothetical "debate" in my head where these three are on the stage and I ask them to raise their hands for the policies they support. The purpose is to show you the left wing political spectrum.
If I asked anyone who supports registration of guns, keeping social security public, and supporting a progressive tax system (all fairly moderate positions, pretty much pre-requisites for the left side of the aisle) you would more than likely get all three to raise their hands.
If I asked whoever supports the idea of single-payer health care (medicare for all), returning to Clinton era tax rates, (3 percent difference I believe), and supporting gay marriage/women's right to choose (all mainstream liberal political policies that you find in just about every single other first world, purely capitalist, industrialized, western nation) to raise their hands, you would get Kucinich and Pelosi on all. However, you likely lose Reid on single payer, and possibly lose him on gay marriage and some women's rights. I believe he'd support the Clinton taxes.
If I asked whoever supports cutting the military budget by 50%, treating all capital gains as regular income, returning to tax rates of the 40's through the 70's (top marginal tax rate ranging from about 70% to 90%, it's now about 35%), or breaking up large banks who are "too big to fail" (all very progressive policies that are to the left of mainstream) to raise their hands, you would get a gleeful Kucinich on each one, you would not get Reid on a single one, and you might be able to get Pelosi on the capital gains, but likely no others.
See what happened there? As the policies slide on the scale to the left you quickly lose Reid, slowly lose Pelosi and never lose Kucinich. This is the actual political scale of liberalism...not what the media and those who consider themselves moderate or republican would likely lead you to believe. Pelosi, and mainstream liberalism IS NOT far left. They hold basic liberal beliefs, that most other capitalist nations practice, that are in no way fringe politics. They hold some beliefs towards the middle, some beliefs towards progressivism...but are mostly somewhere in between. That's me! You might call "liberals" the "moderates" of left wing politics, lying somewhere in between progressives and moderate Democrats.
Ever since there losses on civil rights and the embarrassment of the Vietnam War the right wing of American politics has done an absolutely astounding and admirable job shifting the political scale to the right. Now, as you'll see in a later post, things that were once Republican policies (the public option was originally Nixon's idea) are now considered liberal and things that were once so far right as to be considered fringe politics (Patriot act anyone?), are now the beliefs held by virtually every nationally elected/campaigning Republican leader.
My point isn't to villainize those beliefs or for that matter Republicans. If you hold them in good faith, more power to you. What I take umbrage with is how I am labeled or regarded in this spectrum. If someone asks me what I am politically I begrudgingly call myself a liberal because I'd say 80% of what I believe falls in line with where Pelosi is, so it's just easier. I do support some progressive policies (capital gains, breaking up banks), some "moderate" policies (Clinton era tax rates) and yes, even some Republican policies (federalist gun policies, immigration, criminal justice), but by and large, I fall in line with mainstream liberalism. But when I do say I'm a liberal, or explain what policies I support, I'm painted as far left or extreme somehow. I do not like this, especially considering it is completely wrong.
I understand different parts of the country feel different ways about things and that it's hard to see from a very liberal district or a very conservative district that this definition of mainstream liberalism is accurate. If I said this to my own brother (him being to the left of Kucinich) he'd yell at me. If I told this to some of you who are more conservative, you'd yell at me. I get it. That's fine. But if you just take a step back, turn off Bill-O and Wolf Blitzer, and look at the full spectrum, you'll see it.