Liberalism has turned into a cult that has somehow ended up rejecting the very thing it advocates for.
When you think, “liberal,” you think, “freedom.” Freedom of speech, freedom to practice your religion, freedom to marry whosoever you want to marry. All incredibly important freedoms that have somehow become the norm to support peoples’ rights in. I love how that happened, and it’s been incredible to see how America has transformed from the ultra-conservative, Puritan society it was founded as to what it is today. And, don’t get me wrong, I love the awareness and reform-mindedness of the younger voting demographic today: let’s get rid of discrimination! Let’s abolish racial profiling and homophobia! I LOVE IT.
But I feel like the younger voting demographic has also yielded something darker, something that I perhaps don’t like as much as the sophisticated awareness of the anti-discrimination society: welcome, my friends, to the Cult of the Ultra-Liberal.
Freedom to express your sexuality? Check. Freedom to practice your religion? Check. Freedom to defend your beliefs and have a stream of thought different from those of the ultra-liberals? Not so much of a check.
I’m sixteen. I’m not as politically savvy or as aware of the real world as most twenty-somethings and newly-turned-eighteen-year-olds. But I still have my political and social beliefs, and I’d love it if you’d bear with me as I say that I’m a liberal. But what I’d love even more is if you’d bear with me and let me explain myself as I say I’m a moderate.
Perhaps what I mean when I say that I am a moderate is not that I am an almost-Republican; au contraire, I am firmly Democrat. And I’m not saying that I oppose gay marriage and feminism; those topics are two of my favorites to wholeheartedly embrace. What I mean, perhaps, is that I am a realist. I like liberal ideas and I like what they stand for. But I am not a radical. I am not an ultra-liberal. I want change, I do. But I want change that can be brought about realistically, calmly, without Texas forming its own country and seceding from the Union. (Sorry, Texans. You’re really wonderful people, but I had to.)
No, I’m sorry, I love what he stands for, but I am not the biggest Bernie Sanders fan. If I could vote, my vote would not go to him (but rest assured that it would go to a Democrat). His social changes are radical. They’re wonderful and equality-inducing and make me quiver with glee. But I still wouldn’t vote for him, because social reform is not what I look for in a president.
But perhaps my bigger question here is, Why am I apologizing for this? The term moderate is quite easy to comprehend. In fact, most of our U.S. Presidents have been moderates, a balance of liberal and conservative. So I don’t see why it took me so long to openly coin myself as one. Was it because I was too young? Was it because I hadn’t really figured it out yet?
The answer is no to all of these.
I didn’t admit this to you, Internet, because I was scared. Have you been on Tumblr of late? Back in 2014, I saw a post circulating about. I can’t seem to find it now, but it ran something along the lines of this: the post was written by the wife of a police officer. It was just after Ferguson happened, and the woman said that she was scared. She said that her husband was a good man, a good police officer, who just wanted to protect the people in his community. She said that she wanted people to stop grouping him with Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, who were so blatantly racist and disrespectful of the world’s diversity as a whole.
And the responses were terrifying. The ultra-liberals that populate the Tumblr-verse shouted the poor woman down. Maybe they were trying to scream against discrimination, but they ended up screaming for it. “All police officers are bad,” they shouted along the lines of. And maybe I misunderstood the post, or didn’t catch it, but not one of the people on my dashboard challenged the ultra-liberal viewpoint. And so I kept my mouth shut, too.
Do yo see what I am trying to say here? In advocating for freedoms of speech and expression, ultra-liberalism has become a cult, or perhaps simply a misunderstood group of new voters and young people. The ultra-liberals shout down those who disagree with them and scare people like myself, who are perhaps not so ultra-liberal, into submission. Being a liberal, to me, means that you hear people out and listen to what they have to say. That you judge them not on their political or social beliefs, but on their justifications for those beliefs, and on their treatment of humanity, in all its glorious diversity, as a whole. You tolerate.
I support feminism. I support gay marriage rights. I support abortion if the mother so chooses, and I certainly do not want a Republican as president. But Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be my first choice, either.
I’m a young person, and I am not an ultra-liberal. And it shouldn’t be an act of courage for me to identify myself as such.