If I'm disaffected and bothered by decadent American society; the media's inability to report news; crass international business, law, finance, and politics majors who drink from the kegs at the law school and "network"; good ol' boys and feminazis; people who sell out and work as corporate shills; drunks; Greek life; and Diebold (Diabold?) voting machine fraud, does that make me liberal or conservative?
The above question is really rather rhetorical, meant to get you thinking about what exactly liberal and conservative are. As you know, the above criteria simply describe my personal prejudices. But yes, to live, unless you're a robotic automaton politician, one generally has to pick and choose their battles and beliefs. I know, I know, "You can't do that! What're we going to put in the poll results?!" Screw the polls. I asked an analogous trick question awhile back in my away message and got into an angry debate with someoner about the true meaning of "liberal" and "conservative" and the value (or lack thereof) of taking up one label or another. That argument was ultimately pointless, only serving to further cement my convictions about his irascibility.
Anyway, I'm going to commence talking in circles now, clarifying my thoughts on the subject. Thanks for listening.
I like to think that I'm remaining independent. I started doubting whether I am, though, while talking to a friend earlier about newspapers. Some things I said gave me pause, as I remarked, "Hm, I sound liberal, don't I?" The thing about this is that neither the label "liberal" nor the label "conservative" seem to have any reference point anymore. The left aggregate doesn't seem truly progressive much more often than the right does, nor do proponents of the so-called right unfairly discriminate against everyone and kill people much more often than anyone else. Where one stands on the political spectrum these days often has far more to do with these disparate little "issues," things like abortion, suicide, drugs, religion, "terror," foreign policy (isolationist vs. imperialist), etc. If I happen to take a certain side on more than half of such issues, some seem to think, I'm liberal-leaning or conservative-leaning. Sadly, just believing some things and not believing others isn't an option on poll questions.
Republicans are portrayed as conservative war hawks these days, what with the fake "war on terrorism," the fake "war on drugs," etc.—yet oddly enough, by instituting these fake wars, the Republican leadership is ushering in as many governmental controls as they say the Democrats are. There's apparently a real disparity between what career politicians on both sides are doing and what the people 1. think is being done and 2. want done. Sure, some politicians get real things accomplished—just the other day, some guys from SLU wrote to their state senator/representative when their right to fly the flag from their dorm room balcony was abridged, and wonder of wonders, the guy actually got it taken care of, with SLU even changing its longstanding rules about hanging things from balconies. Mostly, though, politicians seem to be becoming a big part of the problem. Maybe someone should remind them that their jobs weren't meant to be careers.
Back on my circuitous route, though, I'll pose another rhetorical question: What does conservative refer to, anyway? If one is dubbed "conservative," does that mean he's conservative socially? Or that he's conservative in terms of constitutional interpretation? What do liberals and conservatives respectively stand for anymore? From my berth here at this oh-so-liberal university, it seems like the tables have turned—the so-called Republicans and "conservatives" here are really the radical ones, the fringe. One must ask, of course, what role being radical plays in all this, anyway, as there can be "radicals" for any given cause...but insofar as conservatives are supposedly opposed to change, in the traditional sense, using "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" as a parsimonious standard, it seems like being radical is antithetical to that ideal.
In any case, the standard Democratic party line on issues isn't liberal, and conservatives seem to have an identity crisis, as their label includes gun-toting Charleton Heston, small-town Missouri farmers, and then Wall Street power brokers and other decadent business types. If the big business people who are screwing over the farmers are conservative just like the farmers, who's to blame? What's to be done? Perhaps there should be, instead, a split between "idiots" and "non-idiots," or "those who possess common sense" and "those who don't." Then again, what do I know?—I don't even have a party affiliation!