Not necessarily in this order, I am:
I am a proud liberal.
I attribute this quality to my mother and father. I’m not sure if my grandparents were liberals, but they were certainly pro-union people and totally distrustworthy of the wealthy. The boogie-men for them, which had an impact on me, were corporate bosses and big business owners. Big government was not an issue for them because they had been through the “struggles” of a 40-hour/five-day work week, social security, and the New Deal. They saw how government can be the advocate of the working people, and they were staunch supporters of FDR, Truman, and Kennedy. I never knew how they felt about IKE, but I’m sure they supported him as well since he really wasn’t a “bad” Republican President.
My grandparents (especially my grandfather) were especially distrustful of those with “educations,” but more on that later.
Back to my parents. My father grew up in my grandparent’s household and was deeply influenced by their liberal perspectives. To be clear, my grandparents attitudes did not represent some “anomaly” of the society they lived in. They reflected the attitudes of their peers from the North-East—staunchly liberal, pro-union, working class. My father embodied these attitudes and added the experience of his generation (he was part of the last “pre-Baby-Boomer wave—he was born in 1933). A die-hard Democrat, he was still a bit “racist” when it came to attitudes (I’m sure that the only black friends he ever had were during the time he served in the Air Force during the Korean War). He was against discrimination, but probably felt that as long as they weren’t discriminated against and were in their own neighborhoods everythng would be ok (try to sort that one out in your brains). He was not a “big” fan of Dr. King, but he understood the need for the Civil Rights struggle. In many ways, I have come into contact over the last 8 years with people who reflect similar attitudes. The only thing different is that they now label themselves as “conservative”, which is totally contradictory.
My dad’s influence on my “liberalism,” though, begins with a staunch pro-union, pro-working-class foundation. My grandparent’s influence adds a strong anti-corporate, anti-big-business, anti-wealthy attitude.
My mother was the social empathizer. She was Japanese, had experienced WWII with her own eyes (her home was destroyed during one of the bombing runs, and she witnessed the strafing of innocent civilians in Tokyo by American bombers and warplanes), and she was strongly against military conflict. She experienced racism and discrimination first-hand when she came to the US with my father as a war-bride. She understood the reality of being a minority in this society during the late 1950s. This was real to her. Her influence on my “liberalism” was empathy and compassion for the minority experience. Dr. King WAS one of her heroes—she supported all of his efforts. She was staunchly against the Vietnam War. She was in love with the Kennedy’s.
I am a liberal because of how I was raised. And though I took a turn down conservative alley during the 1980s, I returned in the 1990s to where my mental, emotional, and rational roots were solidly grounded—social liberalism.
From this foundation, I became even more strongly “left” as I entered academia. Theories, research, empirical findings, all grounded not only my world-view but also gave me the evidence I needed to understand how corporate interests undermine the needs of the working class. The social psychology in my training also showed me how the working-class could be “bamboozled” into believing the “rhetoric” of harmful big-government by the very corporate interests who want to keep the working-class and the poor “in their places.”
Remember, though, that my grandfather showed me that his generation of working-class people were also highly distrustful of those with educations. People like me today. I’m not sure where this came from—perhaps it was the recognition that “educated” for him meant a special privilege only the wealthy had access to during his times (which is more true then than today).
But that distrust I find today among my working-class peers.
I attribute today’s working-class distrust again to the bamboozling orchestrated and financed by the wealthy.
(BTW—the above statement IS NOT meant to be taken that I believe there’s some conscious conspiracy by the wealthy to dominate and control the working class. I believe it is just a clash of cultures, with one culture having the ability to express and institute their worldview on the rest of society).
(BTW-2: I fully realize that there are a number of Liberals who are Wealthy. They are a small percentage, with some estimates being no more than 25% of the top 1%. But my experience with these “well-meaning” liberals is that they “patronize” the working-class. They have no idea what the working-class experiences, but they have their hearts, and pocketbooks, in the right places. The only wealthy liberals that I see today who appear to have a true non-patronizing attitude about the working class are Congressman Joe Kennedy III from Massachusetts, and, well, I can’t really think of anyone else—that’s pretty sad….).
I am first and foremost a proud liberal. It comes from my background, it is grounded in my research and training as an academic, and it is further grounded in my everyday experiences.
No one can take that away from me.
And I am happy to have friends on the conservative side who know me well enough that they can respect this aspect of my life.
This passage has been longer than I thought. I have so much more to write about. More to come.