So many people are unclear today about what it means to be liberal and conservative, democrat or republican, Methodist or Episcopalian. I think it would be a good idea to examine these things and to make conscious decisions and form intentional and reasonable conclusions about current events, rather than subscribe to an ideology or system of beliefs because our parents did, because the media is in an uproar, or because of the all-to-common cult of personality. I am going to start with liberalism, because I happen to subscribe to that social ideology. I am also a Methodist, which you can read more about here.
Here is the entry from Merriam Webster online that refers to liberalism:
Main Entry: lib·er·al·ism
1 : the quality or state of being liberal
2 : often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity b : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties d capitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal party
– lib·er·al·ist /-b(&-)r&-list/ noun or adjective
– lib·er·al·is·tic /”li-b(&-)r&-‘lis-tik/ adjective
Notice that the key words in all of these definitions are liberty, freedom, progress, goodness. The first definition even refers to liberalism as a Christian phenomena. As I see it, Christianity and liberalism are perfectly suited for one another. I think that the Nancy Pelosi led Democratic party, however, does as much to hinder the advancement of liberalism than to advocate for it. It is true that when a political party can convey that they have a conviction and will act on it, the people respond. This happened with FDR, and JFK, it happened with the conservative party in the 90’s, and it has happened again with our new President. The Bush administration was a product of the aggressive spreading of the message that the conservative party stands with principle and purpose. The Bush administration did not necessarily stand on that principle, and many conservatives will let you know that up front. The American disillusion with the Bush administration was a direct result of the lack of commitment that they showed to the conservative convictions that helped elect them in the first place. The liberal platform has, I think, a stronger message and one that economically resembles many of the conservative principles of the old-school fiscal conservatives. Free competition and a self regulating market are powerful allies of progress, the essential goodness of humanity, and the autonomous individual. It was the Republican party that won originally won elections on the motto “the party of change,” but it is liberalism that actually stands on that principle. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are not representing many of those principles, and borrowing money that we are going to spend to fix a problem with our economy that was mostly caused by gluttonous spending and bad debt is not mentioned in the definition above. The conservativess in Congress have found their voice, and they have added an element to the debate that should have been there in the first place. If the party that is controlled by the Religious Right and the likes of James Dobson and Pat Robertson can claim that they are the “party of change,” then where are the liberals? If they don’t show up soon, then the Republican party will be well positioned in 2010 for an “I told you so” debate. And they could win.