My “Liberal” Brain May Not Believe What You Think It Does

I’m getting very tired of being told what I think. Partly because I already know, and partly because what other people say is often not accurate.

But that doesn’t seem to matter to a lot of people, especially in today’s political environment.  Sound bites, snarky comments and misinformation appear to be the norm when it comes to influencing opinion.

And sadly, many  people prefer to make generalizations rather than to look at the complexities of almost every issue.

In other words, clarifying what my “liberal” beliefs are won’t matter to those who prefer spoon-fed ideology that paints everything in black and white terms.

Despite the fact that people who should hear what I really believe won’t bother to read this, I’m sharing anyway:

1.  I believe in personal responsibility and hard work. I can’t stand laziness and I don’t think it’s the taxpayers responsibility to support people who abuse the system.  I also know that the majority of people seeking help have fallen on hard times, are not lazy and/or have a legitimate need.  Most have children, who will suffer if their needs aren’t met.  I also know that only about 10% of those receiving help also attempt to abuse the system. I know that charitable giving doesn’t begin to cover the need, that the implications of not helping those in need are severe and that funding  social services is an essential use of taxpayer dollars.

2.  I believe that people who receive assistance from social services should be held accountable for what they receive by taking steps to help themselves.  Apparently, a lot of other “liberals” believe the same thing, which is why most social workers and social service providers spend most of  their time helping people build skills to improve their circumstances … not “handing out” money.  I also believe that people can change, which is why they need others to support and encourage them rather than to criticize and judge.  And I believe that people who complain about lazy people on welfare don’t know the basic facts about eligibility requirements, what people actually receive and what is required of them. I know the  majority of people who point fingers really don’t want to learn more anyway, because if they did, they wouldn’t be so judgmental in the first place.

3.  I believe in the Constitution and its Amendments, particularly the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. I also believe that these rights should equally apply to all Americans, not just those who have more money or connections. When you have more resources, you have greater opportunity to use and abuse these rights. Ensuring equal access is important.  I don’t believe that microphones only belong in the hands of the elected, and I don’t believe Constitution was written with the concept that corporations are people.

4. I believe in freedom of religion and the power of prayer. I also believe that religion is personal and shouldn’t be used to further a political or any other agenda. Historically,  people have abused religion to gain power and influence and to promote their own causes. The  results can be extremely harmful.

5. I  believe  in one nation under God, but I don’t believe in a nation of only one religion. I don’t believe that people of one faith are any more moral than people of any other faith or even people of no faith.

6. I believe that people who want to own a gun should have the right to do so. I also believe that the use of guns should be regulated and monitored, just like the use and operation of a motor vehicle. The primary purpose of a gun is to harm another living being, and I believe everyone who picks one up should fully understand and consider that potential.  I don’t understand why any private citizen needs to own a semi-automatic weapon, and I know when that happens, there is always the potential that a criminal will steal or gain access to it. I also know the gun industry wants to sell as many guns as they can because their goal is to make a big profit, not to protect anyone. That’s why it spends spend big bucks on propaganda to make the issue black and white.

7. I believe in fairness, just as one of the most revered Republicans ever, Abraham Lincoln, did when he  proclaimed, “These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have”  I also realize, that since his time, we recognize that inequality exists beyond just race. I believe that love is love, and if you want to commit your life to someone else, the sex of that other person shouldn’t matter. I believe that race, income and religion shouldn’t predict your outcomes in life. And I believe that people who discriminate, judge or make harsh comments on the basis of race, religion, socio-economic status or sexual orientation are either fearful or selfish.

8.  I believe that having money is a good thing, but I also believe that there is something wrong with a country when the distribution of wealth and power is so unequal.  I know that this unequal distribution is NOT a result of some people working harder than others.  I also know  that raising this issue threatens people who are happy with the status quo, with their bank accounts and with the power that gives them.  And I know that  people who are threatened tend to point fingers and find fault with others so they deflect attention from the real issues. Whenever issues of inequality become part of the political landscape, people who have nothing to lose may not fight for the rights of those who have everything to gain.  But when they do? The country benefits.

9.  I believe that people CAN “pull them up from the bootstraps,” and I’m privileged to know people who have accomplished just that.  I also know that the odds are against this.  When your parent abuse drugs, when they don’t value education and when they don’t encourage hard work, you already have three strikes against you. And when you’re low-income, the chances are that you  aren’t attending the best schools. Low-income children should have the best teachers and the best schools. But they can’t pay for them, so middle and upper class children get the educational benefits and the advantage in life instead.  Children are our future, and we have to invest in them… all of them. Early education provided through Head Start and other programs is essential.

10.  I believe people are more important than money. There’s no other way to say it.  I  believe that worshiping money and power more than God violates the First Commandment. I believe that our current political system allows  people, and corporations, to buy politicians and policies that in turn allows them to buy more power and money. I believe something has to change, and if it doesn’t, the majority of Americans will suffer.

I also believe that everyone has the right to his/her own opinion, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to express mine on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As the great man said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a theater kid in high school, a band kid at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on January 16, 2012, in perspective, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Excellent break down! I too am sick of explaining to people that “liberal” does not mean what they think it means!

  2. We ( my husband and myself, I just read this to him.) are with you sister! Very well said. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts down for those of us unable to d it so well. I will be sharing this on my FB page! Sincerely, T. Alouf

  3. Trina – Thank you – I needed a spokesperson to help me express how I feel!!!! You are greatly appreciated!!! B

  4. I’ll sign on. The Bartlett Party!

  5. Love it! I swear, you’re in my head and put into words exactly how I feel!!!

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