February 19, 2017

Not Being a "True Liberal" is Fine With Me

promoting Conservative Skeptic

I live in an age where it does not matter one bit that I have been a liberal for the past 25 years or so. All I have to do is promote a conservative blog or two on social media, and suddenly, I must be a conservative or even part of the dreaded "alt-right." Why must I be these things? Because the moment I promoted someone with a conservative viewpoint, I failed one of the many litmus tests used by some of the authoritarian left to demand ideological purity. I cannot possibly be a "true liberal" because such a person would never promote anyone with conservative views.

I'd find this laughably absurd if I didn't think it reflected serious problems with our political discourse. I am a liberal. I think I am probably still as liberal as I've ever been. But I am a freethinker before I am a liberal. I am a freethinker who has become increasingly fed up with tribalism and ideological litmus tests. I am a freethinker who values good ideas, regardless of their source. I recognize that conservatives sometimes have good ideas and that liberals sometimes have bad ideas. Most of all, I am someone who values ideological diversity in addition to the forms of diversity most of my fellow liberals claim to value.

I enjoy interacting with many conservatives, and I see no reason to apologize for that. This does not mean that I never come away from interactions with conservatives feeling frustrated. I certainly do. But as an adult, I am capable of tolerating frustration. I also prefer to live in the world that is rather than any sort of false world I might desire. That means that I have no desire to live in a "safe space," echo chamber, or any other sort of artificial bubble. I do not consider that sort of thing to be healthy.

If the authoritarian left wishes to pull my liberal card, they are welcome to it. I have little use for their authoritarian ways, political correctness, or identity politics. They have done their best to make a mockery of liberal values by shutting down any discourse which does not fit their flawed narratives. Recognizing this does not make me conservative; it reflects my commitment to freethought.

When you hear liberals today talking about "classic liberalism" or referring to themselves as "classical liberals," this is what they are talking about. What they are saying - what we are saying - is that we are still liberals in the same way we've always been and that this authoritarian strain of liberalism has rejected many of the liberal values we still hold. Come to think of it, maybe we aren't the ones who should have our liberal credentials called into question.