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Are you a liberal for idealistic reason or cynical/selfish reasons?

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vi5 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:32 AM
Original message
Are you a liberal for idealistic reason or cynical/selfish reasons?
I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Particularly when the terms "bleeding heart" and such accusations as hoping for the old "socialist liberal Utopia" dogma and the like.

I guess what irks me about these accusations is that if I had to break it down, my compassion for my fellow man and the desire to see everyone happy probably only accounts for at most 30-40% of my liberal beliefs.

Now make no bones about it I am 100% liberal leftie progressive, whatever. But I am also a die hard atheist and an avowed cynic.

I am for universal health coverage for all citizens. Yes, a part of me wants to see all people healthy and nobody not get the best care available. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that a large part of me realizes that when doctors treat patients w/o coverage that they don't get paid and the costs get passed on to me.

I am 100% for minimum wages, welfare, and social net programs. Yes, it is because I don't want anyone to go hungry or cold. But also because if my neighbor or the people in my neighborhood are able to live a respectable life, that means that ultimately there is less desperation and less of a feeling of helplessness that usually results in someone stealing or turning to crime or robbery or mugging or the violence that often time results from this feeling of hopelessness and desperation.

I am against the death penalty. Not becuase I inherently think that killing people who in some karmic way deserve it for the hatred and violence that they spread. Believe me there are many people in this universe on whom I wish a world of hurt. But my cynicism tells me that our systems are flawed because we as humans are flawed so that this "justice" will be dispensed with strong bias and inaccuracy. The fact is in a perfect world I'd support the death penalty. But since we are a long way from a perfect world....well you get the point.

The list could go on and on to my reasons for being pro-choice, pro affirmative action, etc. etc. But I guess when people hear my views and describe me as a bleeding heart liberal peacenick criminal loving socialist utopia hippie, I realize that yes, they have my views described accurately but it is the reasoning behind it that they have wrong. And ultimately I don't care. But should I feel bad that these deeply held beliefs are in large part the result of selfishness, pragmatism and a deep seated cynicism?

Just rambling food for though for the morning.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:40 AM
Response to Original message
1. Umm, I'm trying to figure out what makes you consider yourself "selfish"
Sounds like a whole lot of common sense to me. I guess I've got a lot of selfish reasons to be liberal too then!
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vi5 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Maybe selfish was the wrong word, but....
People try to make liberalism out to be based solely on altruistic, humanistic reasons, and when I examine my own beliefs I realize that accounts for the minority reasons. Like I said, just food for my own thoughts.
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RandomUser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
2. I think most people
have more than one reason for any decision or action they take. And as you yourself said, your feelings for your fellow human account for 30%-40% of your liberal beliefs. Most people will have more than one reason for being a liberal. And I suspect all will be an amalgam with that percentage you professed varying, with no one at 100% or 0%.
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displacedtexan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:47 AM
Response to Original message
4. selfish?
of course. we're selfish.
we liberals believe that improving the welfare of mankind will ease our own human suffering; therefore, what's good for mankind is good for us as individuals.
maldistribution of goods and services (including good will) is the only thing standing between us and our goal.
the alternative? denying those in need is not an option for us (liberals) to consider.

just my reaction to your rant.
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:48 AM
Response to Original message
5. I am a liberal because it serves my self interest.
And I believe that if all Americans considered their self interests more carefully the political situation in our country would be much better. Now, if I had $15-million, I'd probably have a different story to tell, but I don't and neither do all but a few people, so I guess I'll just stay a liberal.
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DemocratSinceBirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:51 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I Have Friends Who Are Quite Comfortable
and they vote Democrat....and liberal Democrat to boot...

I lean left because I believe as Joe Kennedy believed "the rich can take care of themselves but someone has to look out for the little guy."
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. Even quite comfortable people won't benefit from
corporate feudalism.

If someone is outright rich and has liberal social tendencies but is economically conservative, I would prefer that they leave the Democratic party and be active in the Republican party. I'd much rather see them have a moderating influence on the Republicans than on the Democrats.
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DemocratSinceBirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:26 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. I Am A Capitalist
but I believe in using the progressive income tax to build a just society where everybody gets a even shot...

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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:29 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. I Am A Socialist
because I know that even using the progressive income tax, you will not be able to achieve a society where everybody gets an even shot.
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DemocratSinceBirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #15
18. I Guess It Depends How You Define Socialism
as to whether I would reject or embrace the label...

I am a small businessman... I have no employees but myself .... I like the independence this give me....
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ablbodyed Donating Member (610 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:09 AM
Response to Reply #5
11. My self-interest is a mixed bag as well....
because I come from a financial situation that recieves marginal benefits from the tax cuts: but I don't support them. We have responsiblities to each other.
I find it pathetically amusing that conservatives bleat about family values when the pursue policies that benefit them today and will impact theif descendants in NEGATIVE ways. I work for the postal service and a fellow worker makes $65K+ to deliver the mail (working about 35 hours a week), yet he votes, and is belligerently, Repug. How long do you suppose he'll make that kind of money is the Repugs really control this country? His union, which he mocks, would be de-certified under national security grounds and he'd be out of luck. But he's way TOO STUPID to see this: it's SOOOO much more FUN to be a whining Whimmy (WhiteHeteroMale) amd throw Democrats' mailings around the room, and curse them for having the audicity to try to win the election.
On the other hand, as a gay man I know that a liberal-dominated society is less like to put me to death to save me.
So I understand your views and ADMIRE your openness and self-criticism. That is the most liberal aspect of all. Do conservatives ever question their beliefs? I think the answer to that is obvious.
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gottaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:59 AM
Response to Original message
7. I think liberals have a larger sense of self than conservatives
eom
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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:04 AM
Response to Original message
8. Those are good reasons
Edited on Mon Sep-22-03 08:50 AM by Lurking_Argyle
I couldn't have done any better myself.

I've noticed that my conservative friends hate the government, until THEY need something from it.

edit for clarity
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. Friends who hate government
When you can point out to them just how intrusive the Bush administration is becoming and how much the Federal Government is being inflated, they cannot truthfully vote for more of the same.
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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:00 AM
Response to Reply #12
19. You are correct...
if they'd consider a logical explanation. Unfortunately, too many of these are the among the brain-scrubbed (not just brainwashed) zombies who like the chant, "government bad, business good."

The thing that has started to awaken them is that they, or people they know, have been affected by the economy directly, lay-offs or having trouble getting a new job.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:33 AM
Response to Reply #19
21. Govermment is bad
Especially the Bush* led government. And they are bad for business too. See how simple it is? Just stick to the facts. The anti-government folks can be shamed into either not voting, or, voting anti-bush. It's simple.

Example:

Wow, that's some great group we've got in the White House. They've run up the deficit, lost millions of jobs, gone on a nation building campaign in Iraq, cut veteran's benefits, allowed Enron to become the worst business failure ever, and pissed off all of our allies. What else can they do? Seems as if they've done quite enough, eh?
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liberalmuse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:08 AM
Response to Original message
10. I agree that it's foresight and common sense...
Edited on Mon Sep-22-03 08:11 AM by liberalmuse
perhaps selfishness to the extent where we'd like to see the human race survive, and it is in our own self-interest to do so. I see us as individuals who all make up one entity--if one part of this entity suffers, we all suffer in some way. I don't think the universe cares whether the human race survives or not, so I don't think it's noble if you are looking at the big picture, but it is noble when compared to the selfishness of some human beings who justify hurting others in order to get what they want.

On edit: To answer the question--I try to imagine myself in other people's shoes--I don't know if that's compassion, or self-delusion, but my main reason for being liberal is because I hate injustice and cruelty, but it's nice to be able to find other reasons for being liberal, like it just plain makes sense.
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rogerashton Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:28 AM
Response to Original message
14. Both, of course.
I subscribe to the ideal of government based on a social contract -- so that different people may benefit from government in different ways, but all are better off than they would be in the absence of the common enterprise. That is idealistic, of course -- our system is far from that idea -- but the implication is that I do expect to benefit from many of the government policies I support, and I see no hypocrisy in that.
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soupkitchen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:32 AM
Response to Original message
16. Its called enlightened self-interest
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #16
31. Hey, hey, hey!! Bertrand Russell fan?
Man I've taken a lot of crap for defending Enlightened Self Interest...Many simply can't wrap their brains around it.
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loyalsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:41 AM
Response to Original message
17. "selfishness"
I think it's an underrated concept. I think that there can be a sense of fairness in self-interest. You know that if we're all treated fairly, and if we all do well, we are all better off. We look out for ourselves AND others that way.
Not wanting yourself to get robbed can transfer to not wanting your neighbor to get robbed, and ultimately when welfare and healthcare are included not wanting someone to go to jail over being hungry, or because they are mentally ill.
I bet, I'm pretty much with you on a lot of things. I've decided I have a healthy sense of cynicism that gives me a way to put things in perspective.
For example, I don't think everyone *deserves* to actually be happy. There are any number of reasons why people aren't, and this is actually an unreasonable belief in some conservative and liberal circles. It's part of the American sense of entitlement. Anyone has the potential to sabotage their own happiness, and it is not up to others to fix it. This may sound too much like the personal responsibility argument, but I'm not talking about being sick or losing a job. I mean the things like treating people badly yet expecting them to offer some kind of affection or something. ie Newt who treats his wife like trash yet may believe he "deserves" to have a "happy" marriage.

I do, however, believe that we should do everything we can to even what is an artificially uneven playing field, so that everyone can have an opportunity to lead a productive life, therefore creating a potential for happiness maybe. Affirmative action and the option to control reproduction as much as possible go a long way toward providing that for women and others who have not been previously given equal opportunity in a system controlled by white men.
A cynical, viewpoint leads me to believe that pragmatic solutions for opportunity for more people will benefit us all.
How's that?
:)
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Mairead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:17 AM
Response to Original message
20. My self-interest is served best by more equality
And I believed that even when I was making more than most people :)

Most people only want 'enough'. They don't suffer from pathological greed, they don't want to consume their lives in search of More. If they have enough, they don't steal, they don't abuse other people, they just live.

That sure sounds good to me!
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WhoCountsTheVotes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:35 AM
Response to Original message
22. enlightened self-interest makes me a progressive populist
If you want to call that cynical/selfish, go ahead.
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soleft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:40 AM
Response to Original message
23. Wasn't that John Nash's Nobel winning theory
If you serve yourself, nobody wins

If you serve the group, nobody wins

If you act in a way which best serves the self and the group, everyone wins.

I know that's the Ron Howard depicted simple explanation, but it works for me.
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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
24. Idealist
I have a vision of a better world for all based on many of the beliefs you just enumerated. It really is as simple as that.
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LeahMira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:46 AM
Response to Original message
25. Not to worry...
Little kids behave themselves at least during part of the month of December because they want Santa to bring them some good "stuff." Later on, they behave themselves because it brings them an easier time of it and probably more friends. Still later on they behave themselves because it's the right thing to do. Sometimes the extrinsic motivations carry you through when the intrinsic ones are a little hard to remember. You're doing fine. Pobody's nerfect!
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Blue_Chill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
26. I fall on the left of center because I believe in doing what's good
I don't care for idealism or ivory towers. I don't care about social justice and sticking it to the big companies. I care about people, animals, and the enviroment.

I do not believe the human animal is by nature good. Thus I believe it is up to those that are good to speak up and take action.
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Mairead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. Most humans behave in ways that reflect their social context
We behave well in good contexts, and badly in bad ones. Only a few are bad in good contexts, or good in bad ones.

Which, as you imply, is a second good reason to create good contexts!
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WoodrowFan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
28. Religious
I do not know how a Christian could be anything BUT...
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Liberator_Rev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 01:53 PM
Response to Original message
29. Here's why "Liberals Like Christ" are Liberal:
Can women expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for all working people?

Can working people expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for black people?

Can black people expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for Hispanic people?

Can Hispanic people expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for gay people?

Can gay people expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for poor people?

Can poor people expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for the handicapped?

Can handicapped people expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for Native Americans?

Can Native Americans expect justice for themselves,
if they ignore justice for immigrant people?

Can "law-abiding" citizens expect justice for themselves
if they allow their law enforcement agents
to perpetrate crimes on "law-breakers"
in the name of "law-enforcement"?

One isn't a Liberal just because one belongs to a minority and fights for that minority. To fight for one's own class alone is the essence of CONSERVATISM. If we are only concerned about liberating the particular oppressed class that we happen to have been born into, then we are not really Liberal. We are just Conservatives not lucky enough to have been born into a privileged class. True Liberals are concerned about justice and freedom for ALL mankind, whatever it may cost them to fight for equality for all.
for much MORE on what it takes to be Liberal vs. Conservative, check out:


http://www.LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/Liberals


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Brian Sweat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
30. I'm selfish
Supporting policies that I think will help other people makes me feel good. I really like that feeling, so that is why I am a liberal.
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Kusala Donating Member (864 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
32. oh must be selfish reasons
I'm on welfare having crackbabies just for more money.

:eyes:

Ever responded to someone that says this with "Why are you more concerned with alleged 'mothers on crack' taking advantage of a few dollars, rather than corporations that steal billions from the government?"

The irony goes right in one ear and out the other.


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oldcoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
33. I am a liberal for selfish reasons
I am a liberal for selfish reasons. It is in my best interest to support liberal politicians and liberal causes.

I am a woman and support liberal candidates because they tend to be better on women's issues and are more likely to support women's equality. I really do not want to go back to the "good old days" where I had to get my husband's permission to enter into a contract or when states banned the use of birth control.

I am a selfish liberal because I realize that it is in my best interest to protect the environment. I like to breath and drink clean water. I also understand that the earth is the only home we have. I am frequently amazed that conservatives do not support environmental causes and instead support greedy, polluting corporations. This is clearly not in their self-interest because if this planet becomes uninhabitable for humans, where do they plan to live?

I am frequently amazed at how often conservatives are willing to act against their own best interests in favor of corporations. They scream about law and order but ignore illegal behavior by corporations. They would want a thief to get a long sentence for stealing a television set but have no problem with corporations stealing their employees' pensions. They are outraged when a drunk driver kills a family of five but seem to have no problem when a auto company knowingly sells cars with mechanical problems, which endanger and kill their drivers.

When I hear conservatives argue that we must trust corporations to do what is right, I have wonder who the true idealists are.
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
34. Neither, It Just Seems Practical
The world changes and evolves... so you either go with the flow of progress or try and row against it.

Those who try and obstruct progress to maintain their own advantages are inflexible and doomed to failure.

And those who would profit and then keep others from realizing their own potential are ultimately short sighted and hurting themselves as well.

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