Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Liberal/Progressive's Credo

Yesterday on Facebook a spirited discussion broke out in the comments following one of my posts. A FB friend of mine--one of the few non-liberals-- was bemoaning the loss of jobs that would follow the cancellation of the building of the wall and the Keystone pipeline. Quite a lot of mostly polite back and forth ensued and at some point she said she was just trying to understand how liberals thought.

Several of my liberal friends were eloquent in their replies but it was my son Ethan who really expressed just what I feel. So, with his permission, I'm copying his words. (Sorry I couldn't get rid of the white background.)

If you want to understand liberal thinking, here's one example:

Betsy DeVos. Her credentials for becoming Secretary of Education were twofold. One, she was an opponent of public schooling, which is no doubt related to the general Republican goal of cutting off funding for works that serve the public good, so that they can then argue for privatization of those works. And there's a lot of money in privatization. (See also Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who got his post for making large campaign donations and immediately started to make the Post Office more inefficient -- right around an election in which it looked like a lot of people would mail in their votes. The fact that this also impacted people shipping things for Christmas? Not good for *the people*, but hey, it allows Republicans to make the argument that the Post Office should be privatized so someone can make more money off it.)

Her other credential was being money. Rich family. Friends of a certain form of Protestant Christian -- and I say a "certain form" because it has to be the kind of Protestant who is okay with killing people for money. Enter her brother Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater USA, a private military corporation -- the euphemism for "mercenary company". Blackwater had to change its name for PR reasons a couple of years after 2007. What happened in 2007? Well, Blackwater employees opened fire on a group of Iraqi civilians, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded 20 others. Four of the mercenaries involved with, I stress again, killing civilians, were convicted in federal court for a mix of murder and manslaughter charges.

In his term of office, Donald J. Trump pardoned all four men.

Liberal thinking is looking at a scenario like that and following the money. Pardoning those men for, once again, killing civilians, kept our one-term president in the good graces of the very wealthy Prince family, who in turn stood to be in the good graces of wealthy charter schools who would receive more federal funding due to having a "friend" in the Cabinet.

If you don't see corruption in that kind of setup -- and it is only one of the many things going on here, including the even more obvious decisions to pursue profit over environmental good -- I submit that you aren't looking because you don't want to see it.

I suppose another way of describing a section of liberal thought is that I don't trust rich people in much the same way that many conservatives don't trust the government. To be rich is to be isolated from consequence -- to always be bailed out, or to have the money to pay the fine or the lawyers. With sufficient money, fines are just the "price tag" of doing things. Driving drunk and speeding? That'll cost you a bit of pocket change. Dumping toxins into a river? Sure, we'll work the fines into our profit forecasts. You see this again and again and again. Remember the "affluenza" kid?

This general immunity to consequences that the rest of us have to live with doesn't corrupt every rich person -- some are decent people -- but it corrupts a lot of them. Especially those who inherited their wealth. The whole "the election was stolen/I won't concede" narrative is not based on evidence, as many a court has proven, but on the whims of a guy who was born too rich and influential to be told "No, you can't have that" as often as the rest of us were. Rich folks, especially those born to riches, don't have to make concessions -- you still have homophobes like Erik Prince and racists and Islamophobes of all stripes because they didn't have to study in public schools next to people different than them, or work a low-paying job next to people different than them. And then they take that "I'm used to getting my way" money, and they apply it to government, and the government starts working for them and not for the ordinary citizen. If it weren't for greed, 2020 probably would have gone differently. The local pieces of trash that we're pretty glad to be rid of here in Georgia, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, got to learn how dangerous the COVID-19 virus ahead of the rest of us -- and they quietly started buying up stock in companies that produced PPE. Can you imagine what it would have been like we'd had people in power who were instead concerned with the welfare of the American public?

So you have a postmaster general destroying the Post Office from the inside, a Justice Department more concerned with personal vendettas than stopping corruption, an Education Secretary who never set foot in a public school until she had the job... boy, I could go on. And just to add another area of hypocrisy to this layer cake, don't forget that many of these wealthy folks do their best to project the image that wealth is a sign of virtue and hard work, and that poverty is a sign of laziness -- which is why social services are labeled as "a handout", money that was unearned, but the estate tax is "tyranny." (I've dealt with someone in the family who was very adamant that people become lazy if you just give them money, and you shouldn't do that... but, funnily enough, he was totally okay with the idea of inheriting money from rich relatives. Double standard much?)

Basically, one bastion of "liberal thought" is that if you worry about corruption and hypocrisy in the government -- worry about where the money is coming from. And it got very easy to see in the last four years, with an administration that felt absolutely no shame about favoring wealthy friends and punishing everybody else. The amount of taxpayer dollars directed to fund weekly golfing trips alone was ridiculous, and that stopped being something to talk about just because new examples kept cropping up.

There are absolutely some dirty players in the Democratic ranks, and we'd love to be rid of them. But the last four years did a great job of proving that "there are bad players on both sides" does not mean "there are equal numbers of equally bad players on both sides."

 I'm more progressive than anything else because it seems to be the stance that values most of the things I value -- the environment, arts, freedom of speech and religion, rights and assistance for marginalized people (and even understanding what it is to be marginalized), education, war, all kinds of topics. Conservativism by definition is about conserving things the way they are -- and really, too many things really still need to change for the betterment of our planet.

That's my boy. I'm proud of him.



Anvilcloud said...

Did it work? Was there a reply?

BTW, I have finally finished Crows and published my pathetic, little report. I am just telling you here in case you were to happen to miss that post.

KarenB said...

That was a very good conversation and I, too, loved Ethan's reply.

Barbara Rogers said...

Good job describing much of what Liberals think of Conservatives. Thanks.

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, AC. Popping over to check it out. And yes, there was a reply--she said she felt she understood the liberal point of view better--that we all wanted the same thing in the end but saw different roads to it.

A Bit of the Blarney said...

And, indeed, you should be proud of him! That was a really educational response, without emotion of ridicule to a problem we all have who find being liberal hard to explain to those who wear blinders and perhaps do not want to be open to the other side. Thank you!

Marcia said...

Came to your blog by way of AC and his review of your latest book.

Your son did a fine job explaining liberal views.

katy gilmore said...

I liked the part “I could go on - or there is more or some such along those lines. Like kids in cages or disregard for truth! You should be proud Vicki and thanks Ethan!

Thérèse said...

Just hoping for the "bad players" to play more fairly starting now for the "betterment" as you put it.
Such a wise post, thanks Vicki for posting.