Republicans, Conservatives, Tea Partiers, are you fed up with the success of Obamacare? And you can’t really get angry anymore about the old and tired Benghazi “scandal” or the IRS “conspiracy”? Are you tired of still claiming that Obama “stole” the last presidential election when he won it fair and square? Are you getting tired of defending a government bought by the corporations and the wealthy with the Supreme Court ringing up the sale? Tired of defending gun nuts when you know perfectly well that the Second Amendment refers to militias, not individuals and you know that background checks and registration make perfect sense? Are you getting just a little bit concerned about climate change and the rape of the environment by big energy and big business, tired of defending fools who deny overwhelming scientific evidence about global warming, and are you perhaps turning a little green yourself? Tired of millionaires, billionaires and corporations paying a smaller percentage of income in taxes than you do? Tired of defending Mitt Romney’s comments on the “47 percent”, when you know full well that you are part of the 47 percent? Concerned maybe about a Republican do-nothing House and a Senate hobbled by Republican filibusters? Fed up with trying to defend airheads still claiming that Obama was born in Kenya?…then maybe you should embrace another political philosophy – become a liberal…or a progressive…or, or, even a card carrying Democrat! But….you have been a Republican for too long, have grown accustomed to the drone of conservative talk radio and love the empty headed blond bimbos on Fox News. Your Republican parents trained you too well and it’s hard to make the break and besides, you don’t want to disappoint them. I mean, with all this, it’s really hard to make that left turn. You need help, you need a plan. You are in luck – I have such a plan. Here it is.
How to Become a Liberal
Step 1 Get a heart – grow one, buy one, or steal one if you must, but you have to get a heart. You need compassion. You need empathy. You need to care. Care about the poor, the homeless, the less fortunate, the unemployed, the uneducated. People with hearts know that in the richest country in the world, everybody willing to work should have decent jobs, enough to eat, obtain adequate medical care, have adequate clothing to wear, have a decent place to live and provide security and a future for their families. People with hearts know that good health care should be a right, not a privilege. To believe all this, to embrace this, you do need a heart.
Step 2 Get an education, read – read newspapers, novels, history. Anybody who has read history and economics knows that Keynesian economics works and that the New Deal, the government providing jobs when the private sector fails, worked to get us out of the depression and that the biggest jobs program of all, World War II, was further proof of the efficacy of government action to end serious economic downturns. Read newspapers, maybe the New York Times, read columnists, read Harpers, The Atlantic, The Nation, the New Republic, the New York Review of Books, and even the Weekly Standard and the National Review if you must, but READ. Remember the quotation attributed to George Orwell:”Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations”. Reading the novels of Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, and Emile Zola will help you grow a heart (see Step 1 above). These authors wrote eloquently and passionately of the poor, the downtrodden, and the exploited. And get a new view of the history of the United States by reading Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”. Or, never mind, read any history book. There is nothing like history to help gain an understanding of the world and why it is the way it is.
Step 3 Get your eyes checked. You may be suffering from myopia, blurred vision, blind spots, short-sightedness, lack of focus or simply inability to see the light. Vision problems have long been rife in the right wing. Conservatives simply can’t see that our country is being taken over by corporations and that corporate money now controls both houses of Congress and exerts its nefarious influence on the judicial and executive branches as well. They can’t see that corporations exist for profit, not public welfare and therefore need to be regulated. Conservatives can’t see clearly how corporate processed “food” is destroying our health. They are blinded by talk of “big government” when clear vision would reveal that government protects our water, our safety, the purity of our food and drugs, and builds our roads, bridges and airports. They are too shortsighted to realize that big banks have become gambling casinos rather than anchors of commercial communities and lenders to businesses.
Step 4 Think rationally, logically, maybe take a course in logic. If Keynesian economics helped us out of the Great Depression, why would it not help us out of the Great Recession. If most of the money in tied up in the one percent, and the middle class is dying, who is going to buy the cars, the appliances, the homes and the merchandise, to keep our consumer based economy going? Hey, the Koch brothers can buy only so many stoves, refrigerators and houses. If everyone who worked full time was paid a living wage sufficient to provide for a family’s comfort, security and future, they would spend that money and the economy would improve dramatically. See? Logic. And when we hear corporations crying about too many regulations and yet they are still able to poison our air, pollute our water, destroy the environment, feed us sugar and fat in processed “food”, lie to consumers about their products, pay full time employees less than a living wage, logic should tell us that we need more regulations, not fewer.
Step 5 Form opinions and make decisions with facts, not fibs, fiction or fluff. Read (see Step 2 above) climate change facts, corporate food facts, big pharma facts (surprise -the biggest health problems facing the world today are not COPD and erectile dysfunction) and inequality facts. Look at the facts about the income tax and corporate tax when our country had a strong middle class that could buy houses, take vacations and send its children to college. Look at the facts about the national debt and facts about Social Security and Medicare (surprise – they are not the reason for the deficit; they are not going broke, and with a few minor changes, will be solvent for many decades to come). Look at the facts about who makes money from wars; maybe corporations enjoy war and death and destruction – there is big money to be made. Look at the facts about infant mortality, longevity, happiness, satisfaction, upward mobility, education, daycare, and health and then think twice about those “socialist” countries in Europe.
Step 6 Read an economics book or take an economics course. Or at least read anything by Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich, David Cay Johnston, Richard Wolfe or the recent book by Thomas Piketty, or even something by John Maynard Keynes himself. Learn that the free market does not solve all problems. Learn that the natural end result of unregulated capitalism is self consumption, self immolation. Find out what socialism really is (surprise – President Obama is not a socialist!) and while you’re at it, find out what communism is (he’s not a communist either!).
Step 7 Change your listening and viewing habits. Turn off Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and tune in to NPR or maybe even Democracy Now. On your television, try watching MSNBC for starters. As you progress toward becoming a genuine liberal and quite properly develop a distaste for any corporate media, turn off MSNBC (it’s corporate) and watch an interview with Bill Moyers on PBS or watch Link TV or Free Speech TV and see what honest brave news reporting and truthful documentaries are like.
Step 8 Read (again, see Step 2) your Bible (or your Koran…or any other book anchoring a major religion) Jesus had much to say about wealth and the poor (See Matthew, Mark and Luke). Jesus cared about the poor, fed them and clothed them, was critical of wealth and drove the money changers out of the temple (He would have particularly enjoyed chasing out Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon!) In order to become a liberal you need to take a page from the Good Book and care for your fellow man. To become a liberal you need to ask what Jesus would say today about the huge disparity between rich and poor, about spending billions on war and the instruments of death instead of spending on education, jobs and helping those in need. What would Jesus (or Mohammed, or Confucius) say about rapacious banks, CEO’s making 300 times an average worker’s pay, or destruction of the environment?
There you are. Change your political opinions in eight easy steps. Follow the plan, disgruntled Republicans, conservatives and Tea Partiers, and you will finally be able to turn left, the right direction. Good Luck! You will feel much better!
This was an excellent article! I particularly enjoyed the fact that you mention the importance of of being well-read. I was raised a liberal by a father who was an avid reader.
Kemal Caglar said:
8 ways of becoming not just an American liberal but a world citizen to be able to critically see what’s going on around the world and the ways in which the common global issues can be tackled. Thank you for your suggestions.