Presidential elections bring out the worst in people. I’ve observed that every fourth year an alarmingly high number of people ramp up their usage of the L-word and the C-word. Republicans are quick to label those with opposing viewpoints as liberals, while Democrats refer to their political rivals as conservatives. For better or worse, those two words have, in my opinion, devolved over time, and now, they hold mostly negative connotations, even though both words, by definition, are inherently positive.
To my proof.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Online, a liberal is defined as someone “believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change.” Another definition reads as someone “not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.” Going by these definitions, I am a liberal. . .and proud of it. I like to think of myself as actively supporting social and political change. And I’m not opposed to new ideas. Like, for example, term limits for all elected officials in local, state, and federal government. There’s an idea that is certainly not widely accepted.
And what about the other nasty word, conservative?
From Merriam-Webster’s Online: a conservative is someone “believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society.” It goes on to state that a conservative is “not liking or accepting of new ideas.” Interesting. It would appear I am a conservative, too. . .and proud of it. I believe in a great many established and traditional practices in politics. Democratic elections and freedom of speech, to name but two obvious ones. But I also do not accept or like certain new ideas, such as Obamacare, which, while well-intentioned, is quite burdensome on small to moderate-size businesses in America.
Look, I’m not naïve, nor am I Don Quixote on his high horse. I don’t expect people’s attitudes about those on the opposite end of the political spectrum to change any time soon. However, I would like to make a suggestion: the next time someone calls you a liberal or a conservative, simply smile and say, “Yup, I sure am.”