Taking sides when it comes to politics

I recently had occasion to travel to Minnesota, that lair of licentious liberalism. It felt good to be back amongst like-minded individuals.

The cacophonous cadre of conservatism was getting me down. Minnesota; home to former governor Jesse Ventura, Senator Al Franken and former Senator Paul Wellstone, who could give Ted Kennedy a run for his money on liberal policies; is pretty much to the far left politically, but it was home for more than 30 years. Some of it had to wear off on me.

My last column elicited some mild objections, questioning my sanity and ability to see reality. Au contraire mon ami! I see reality just fine. I just see it differently than my conservative friends. By the way, different does not equal wrong.

Let me indulge in some definitions, according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Admittedly I will use the definitions that support my case. Make of it what you will.

Conservatism: 2a: disposition in politics to preserve what is established

2b: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring a gradual development to abrupt change

3: the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change

Liberalism: 2a: a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity

2b: a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition

2c: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties

I am a moderate liberal. As such, I do not believe in extreme liberal policies, but I do believe strongly in liberal policies when it comes to the welfare of people all people. Yes, this country did have an open-door policy on immigration at one time. Compassion is not a political term. It is a humanistic quality that some people possess to a higher degree than others. It is the ability to look at the suffering of others that creates a desire to help. No, the word compassion does not appear in the Constitution; however, it does appear many times in the Bible, which I believe in many people’s minds, trumps the Constitution.

Have you noticed that Liberals tend to listen more to their Conservative counterparts than vice versa? I have tried to have conversations with right-wing friends and relatives, but invariably they cut me off to vehemently try to convince me I’m wrong. I patiently listen to them, because, after all, I am an open-minded person, always willing to explore new thoughts and ideas. I wish I could say the same for them.

There are a couple of quotes I’d like to leave you with; they don’t necessarily support my position, but I like them anyway.

The first is: Liberals are Smarter than Conservatives. Apparently studies have been done postulating that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives. I’m not too sure I buy into that, but I believe liberals have more heart.

The second is: If you aren’t a liberal by the time you’re 20 you have no heart. If you aren’t a conservative by the time you’re 30 you have no brain. I believe it’s possible to have both. I like to think they are traits that have been liberally bestowed on me.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to