|The author stops at Thomas Jefferson's home|
during his cross-country bicycle ride in 2007.
So we have: liberalism, unionism, Mormonism and capitalism in four tidy packages. Yet, I wonder: What do such labels really mean?
I happened to catch a news clip yesterday of a Florida woman speaking to Rick Santorum and telling him that Obama was an "avowed Muslim" (but she wouldn't call him "president" because, I don't know, he wasn't really an American). Mr. Santorum smiled demurely but did not correct the woman. So what do we have here? "Americanism?"
And Rick Santorum? "Conservatism" and "Catholicism."
The lady in the audience? I think we have "Euphemism." I think people who believe the president was born in Kenya might be hiding a little "Racism" under their skirts and coats; but I'm a liberal, remember. So I don't usually deal in definitive statements. I was checking my Facebook feed the other day and one of my former students, Betsey Barre, quoted Robert Frost's definition of a liberal as "someone who can't take his own side in an argument."
Of course, some of my conservative friends question why I'm a liberal in the first place. Is it a mental defect of some kind that I have failed to acknowledge? I don't think so. I think I'm a smart guy and did I mention "handsome?"
Okay: add "Narcissism."
I've been hearing a lot in this campaign about how liberals don't love America but I don't believe that's true. Actually, because I'm both a liberal and an American, I thought Mr. Santorum should have said something about religious tolerance to the Florida lady. I'm old enough to remember, after all, when people in this country said no Catholic could be trusted to be president. So, if you believe in "Conservatism" and it clashes with "Catholicism," where do you come down on "Americanism?" Again, as a victim of "Liberalism," questions like this cause me "Confusionism."
And what about Mr. Romney? My god, could there be a bigger fan of "Capitalism," free enterprise, and job creation in god's whole wide world??? (I could throw in "Creationism" here; but I shall refrain.) Now what do I hear?
According to many Evangelical voters, his "Mormonism" makes him suspect; in other words his religion trumps everything. It's like Rock, Paper, Scissors. "Mormonism" kills "Conservatism."
Of course, if you don't like one man's religion you have...Newt Gingrich, who has tried more than one faith and insists we must vote for him, otherwise, "Socialism" triumphs under Mr. Obama and taxes go up and Mitt Romney has to pay more than 15% to the federal government. Yep: add "Federalism" to the mix and that brings in the Tea Party. I know some liberals suspect all Tea Party people are inclined to "Facism" and I know Tea Partiers who think all liberals are closet communists. So there you go: a touch of "Communism" to add to the stew. But I'm an old history teacher. So I remember that the original Tea Party folks were accused of "Radicalism" when they protested against "Colonialism" and dumped the tea in Boston harbor in 1773.
Which seems kind of anti-capitalism, if you think about it.
So, where does a liberal like me come down in this kind of discussion? I think if a Mormon is qualified to be president, we should vote for him. If "Capitalism," however, means that the super rich can park their money in offshore accounts in the Caymen Islands, well, you can't really be president if you won't do your share to support the very government you say you want to lead.
I say "Americanism" beats "Caymen Islandism." Does that make me guilty of "Jingoism?" Do these jeans make my ass look fat???
Well: I'm not sure the evidence is in on where Mr. Romney parks his big stash of hundred dollar bills. I'm just saying--you know--the categories we use aren't as tidy as people might think.
We've been hearing a lot about "unionism" here in Ohio, where teachers, police and firefighters are fighting to protect pay and benefits, and I've heard people describe these fairly ordinary Americans as "union thugs" and the like. So I get even more confused. If one of my best friends is a public school teacher, but always votes Republican, because he's anti-abortion, is he guilty of "Unionism" or "Conservatism?"
Certainly, Newt is in favor of the sanctity of marriage. So he's against "Lesbianism." But isn't he guilty of "Catholicism?" And isn't it weird that conservatives once insisted that disqualified him from running for a seat in the Oval Office and liberals said it didn't.
Or, since his own marital history is a bit checkered, do we use the term "Recidivism?"
Yeah, I admit it. I'm guilty of "Liberalism." I think a Catholic can run for president, or a Jew or a Muslim. Right now, I know there are American Muslims and American Jews and American Catholics and American Evangelicals and American Mormons and American Agnostics overseas, fighting Islamic "Radicalism." I cringe when I hear people say that all Muslims are dangerous; and sometimes, as an ex-Marine, I get tired of hearing conservatives question the "Patriotism" of liberals.
Even "Americanism" can be suspect, if you examine the term under a microscope, if all it means is "Nationalism" and not justice and freedom for all, which as a liberal, is what that particular term means to me.
So, to wrap it up for today, let me end by saying that as a liberal, I am DEFINITELY against "Botulism."