What, we wonder, is a liberal? Or a conservative? Or whatever?

Whenever I write a critical column about Donald Trump, my email box fills with insults, curses, and claims that I am “a lib-turd” or simply “a liberal.”

What, I often wonder, is a liberal.

I own enough weapons to start a revolution in some third-world countries. I have had permits to carry concealed weapons for several decades, including a difficult one issued in the District of Columbia during our 23 years of residence in the National Capital Region.

However, I am pro-choice on the abortion issue. I do not recognize “God’s law,” which fundamentalist religious types cite as their justification to oppose a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester, which is legal under current federal law, and was legal in several states long before the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in the Roe v. Wade case in 1973.

While I stand at attention when the National Anthem is played, I do not condemn those who choose to kneel or show other forms of non-violent protest. Many of the men and women in uniform who fought and died for such rights tell me that they have no problem with kneeling either. Some do in support of those who protest the violence against minorities in this nation.

I am not a member of any political party or movement. Each of my motorcycle helmets displays a sticker that says: “I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am an American. There is a difference.” That sticker states what I believe about parties and partisanship.

Whenever anybody starts a conversation with “As a Democrat…” or “I am a Republican” or anything similar, I turn and walk away. I don’t care for partisanship. Never have. Never will.

I am not a member of any religious denomination. I walked away from the church of my youth when it decided to denounce gay marriage and homosexuality. In my opinion, such actions should be the right of any individual, not a mandate from the state.

Simply put, I believe in God. I do not believe in organized religion. That is my right as an American citizen.

I have served my country in various ways over the years. I am proud of my service even though I am not proud of some of what I have done in my country’s name.

Part of that service was to the United States Congress, as a communications assistant, then a chief of staff and, finally, a special assistant to the ranking member of the House Science and Technology Committee. I helped investigate the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, reported on the report by Russia on the Chernobyl Disaster, and monitored the federal response to the AIDs pandemic.

Our committee worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects division to transfer what was then known as DARPA-Net to the National Science Foundation to help create the Internet.

On Sept. 11, 2001, after returning to news coverage, I shot photos of the carnage at the Pentagon alongside Larry Dowling of Reuters. “What we are capturing on film today marks a day that changes America forever,” he said.

In 2003, a resistance fighter in Afghanistan told me: “You are very fortunate. You live in America, where you are free and not under attack.”

Is that still true?

The New York Times editorializes that much of the blame goes to the demise of one of the country’s two political parties. “R.I.P., G.O.P. The party of Lincoln had a good run,” the headline reads. “Then came Mr. Trump.”

The editorial continues:

Of all the things President Trump has destroyed, the Republican Party is among the most dismaying.

“Destroyed” is perhaps too simplistic, though. It would be more precise to say that Mr. Trump accelerated his party’s demise, exposing the rot that has been eating at its core for decades and leaving it a hollowed-out shell devoid of ideas, values or integrity, committed solely to preserving its own power even at the expense of democratic norms, institutions and ideals.

Tomato, tomahto. However you characterize it, the Republican Party’s dissolution under Mr. Trump is bad for American democracy.

A healthy political system needs robust, competing parties to give citizens a choice of ideological, governing and policy visions. More specifically, center-right parties have long been crucial to the health of modern liberal democracies, according to the Harvard political scientist Daniel Ziblatt’s study of the emergence of democracy in Western Europe. Among other benefits, a strong center-right can co-opt more palatable aspects of the far-right, isolating and draining energy from the more radical elements that threaten to destabilize the system.

Today’s G.O.P. does not come close to serving this function. It has instead allowed itself to be co-opted and radicalized by Trumpism. Its ideology has been reduced to a slurry of paranoia, white grievance and authoritarian populism. Its governing vision is reactionary, a cross between obstructionism and owning the libs. Its policy agenda, as defined by the party platform, is whatever President Trump wants — which might not be so pathetic if Mr. Trump’s interests went beyond “Build a wall!”

–The New York Times

Along with many Americans, I believe the election on Nov. 3 is the most important one in modern times and, perhaps, for all of America’s existence.

As voters, we should have the power to bring America back from the brink of totalitarianism that threatens our democracy and way of life.

Let’s hope, collectively, we are up to the task.

1 thought on “What, we wonder, is a liberal? Or a conservative? Or whatever?”

  1. This is your blog and you can write and post whatever you want. However, what you post about politics is how people will judge your political allegiances. Your articles on politics run at least 90% anti-right/Republican. This was true even before the orange troll became President. I have no problem with it (and share many of your views), but to pretend that you aren’t on the left politically is to deny what you write and post. You also have your Twitter feed on the side that featured this post today.

    Doug Thompson
    @dougthompson
    Amy Coney Barrett is a sad, sorry excuse to be considered as a justice for the highest court in the land. She is a racist, a homophobe, and a flagrant opponent of legal abortion: A typical appointment by a corrupt president like Donald John Trump.

    Even most liberals would find calling a woman who has adopted two black children a racist as an extreme left position. This is the sort of thing that probably gets you hate mail from conservatives.

    Reply

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