Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Does a Bleeding Heart Liberal Look Like?

I’m not ashamed—for reasons you’ll soon learn—to have that moniker applied to me—so you can see one of those holding a banjo in the little thumbnail to the left. But you might ask: John, you grew up in a working class home in the country—certainly your liberal views are a rejection of the values you grew up with? OK, I did reject some values I grew up with, but I can tell you where a lot of my bleeding heart liberal views came from: the man in the Chief Petty Officer’s hat in the photo on the right. My dad: a WWII vet from the Pacific Theater, someone who grew up in a poor immigrant family, & who spent his life as a blue-collar worker: carpenter, cook, millwright, machinist. My father was also an avid outdoor sportsman, both a hunter & a fisherman. He owned a .22 & a 30/30 & a 20-gauge shotgun, & he used them to hunt deer & other game, which he intended for the table.

I remember once when visiting my folks in the 80s & something about a fight against a possible assault rifle ban came on the news. My father scoffed at the "right" to own assault rifles: though he certainly believed in the right to own guns for legitimate purposes, he was a hunter, & he knew there’s only one legitimate use for an assault rifle: killing people. We can talk all we want about Second Amendment rights, but let’s be clear about this. Some guns can be used for sport, whether it’s hunting or trap-shooting; some are designed with one purpose. Killing people. Do people who believe in the right to bear arms think they should have the right to store an atomic bomb on their property, or at least park a working tank in their backyard? Why not? If you were going to form a militia wouldn’t you want up-to-date weaponry?

Would my father have thought it was simply a misguided assertion of rights for people to show up at Presidential rallies packing heat? I can guarantee you he would not have. It seems that in the health care debate one argument from the right wing has to do with how public health care would abrogate personal responsibility (I don’t follow this, & wonder what our Canadian friends think about that—but then the longevity in the country is way better than in the U.S.—kinda odd, since they are saddled with what we’re told is a horrible healthcare system). Seems like someone forgot to get that memo to the gun-toting folks. Is it their “right” to have those guns where they do? Apparently so, since they’ve been allowed to do it. Perhaps we should also have folks going to church or the local grocery store with a 30/06 under their arm—I mean, it is their right, & God forbid anyone in this country have his rights taken away.

What about the right to a civil society? Do we have that right anymore? The “political discourse” in this country has appalled me for almost 30 years (by the way, I don’t exempt Bill Clinton from criticism on this score). I somehow hoped that electing a President who had statesman-like qualities & an agenda to actually try & fix some deep-seated problems might turn the discourse around. If anything, it has gotten worse—much more ugly, especially in the past couple of months. I’m very discouraged, & angry, & I hate to say it, but I’m relieved my father isn’t around to see this. I'm also beginning to have the sinking feeling that Mr Obama may share the one-term fate of the one other decent president we've had in my adult life, Jimmy Carter.

My father learned one principle in his life, & he learned it in a genuine way: “the rich get richer & the poor get poorer.” People can say what they will about the health care debate or the gun debate: money is fueling these; health insurance & arms manufacture are big business. The renowned liberal President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the power of the “military-industrial complex”—hey, folks, those are the guys making the guns. As far as the insurance companies go: how about this one: please be sure to get pre-approval on the hospital you go to before you have your heart attack. Probably a few days notice will be sufficient!

OK, I’m getting off the soapbox. Tomorrow—Dad’s Photos: without political commentary.


  1. I commented on FB about how I feel about guns. I am looking forward to more of your dad's photos.


  2. Yes, I saw your comment there, Kat--thanks! I was so hot under the collar that I couldn't restrict my venting to FB, however. I completely agree with you--it is madness.

  3. Oh, & since I was pretty steamed when I wrote this, hope it's clear that I myself would love to see a healthcare system here similar to the one you have in Canada. Speaking of madness, the one we have here right now is also completely broken.

  4. well, john, between you and me, it seems the time for venting as i did mine yesterday - and probably much to the dismay of many here - well, and there, too - wherever that all is - but in any event, i so take to heart your words - i can't EVEN get started on the insurance industry - no, really, i truly CANNOT! having spent many moons in the legal sector doing plaintiff's tort work as well as a number of years doing insurance defense cases, and having had several instances of major medical practice committed upon my family, no one could have a better seat to the lion's den than i - be that as it may, however -

    my tirade came about over the media fixation [fox and friends and others] and poor-mouthing the guys in florida who now face - gee, i hate it for them - legal ramifications for violating a judicial CONSENT ORDER to which they had agreed, ordering them and other school employees to cease and desist from having organized religious activities as part of their agenda - yet within NINE DAYS of the temporary injunction which has now become permanent, the principal decided to have prayer at a school luncheon - after which he was duly reported for having violated a CONSENT ORDER OF THE COURT -

    so, NOW, a portion of the public and the media has taken the side of the principal that the issue has become persecution for their religious rights - defying the truth that they knowingly violated a court order - and now face the legal punitive ramifications of their willful acts - which, according to fox and friends and others, is an abomination to all political and holy -

    well, as you can see, this subject is near and dear to my heart - and in my post, i used a few slurs indicating my lack of tolerance for the pre-conceived notion of religion and what that is supposed to mean to EVERYONE in this country - and, in doing so, realize now that my own intolerance evidenced in my post is not something with which i am happy - or proud - because i do belief that intolerance is intolerance -

    mine, sadly, came at all but i like to think only as a result of my personal belief and passion for the rights of us all - to follow the dictates of our own hearts and souls in seeking the path of our own truths and beliefs

    with these final words, then, dear friend, i shall end this barrage of self-pity and indignation and whatever was left of ill-temper - and beg your forgiveness for having brought it, unsolicited as it is, to your door -

    it just happened that your doorway was here - and open - for which i humbly thank you!

    peace - jenean

  5. Hi Jenean:

    Thanks for stopping by to comment. I also place a high value on tolerance, but I'll tell you my own tolerance is wearing pretty thin at this point. I can certainly understand speaking your mind & I think that's ok. I try to keep politics out of RFB most of the time, but there are sometimes I can't help but speak up.

  6. I can't blame you for speaking out John. Many of us are frustrated over what is happening, and it seems it is getting crazy and dangerous and truth is being buried by those using fear tactics. Of course they had lots of practive doing that for the last 8 years. Many people are reacting and not thinking. And that is where the danger can be a real threat with crazy people carrying guns at public meetings. And people like Limbaugh continuing his hate campaign.

    As I've said many times, I'm glad I have Medicare and AARP--not only did it save me lots of money but probably saved my life because I had the best surgeon and medical care I could have. So my "government program" is great!

  7. I particularly like the title of your post. I think it says a lot. It seems, if one interprets their complaints and fears correctly, that conservatives (right wing, far right, however they prefer to be identified), see liberals as greedy, grasping, lazy, communistic types who threaten conservatives' liberty and their incomes. The right wing resentment and defense against liberals has taken, as you've pointed out, some very ugly turns.

    But what do these liberals look like? How do we identify them in a crowd so as to protect ourselves? My father was tall, and looked handsome in his Army uniform (like your dad). He served three years in the South Pacific, while my mother worked in a war plant. They raised a large family. He worked in a factory the rest of his life. She was a homemaker. She sewed and baked, and canned vegetables from the garden. She never even learned to drive.

    They brought the kids to church every Sunday, and saluted the flag. I have to think with some amusement that conservatives might embrace this Norman Rockwell scenario and approve, calling them real Americans.

    They were bleeding heart liberals. In their youth, their families nearly starved during the Depression, and his was saved by him joining Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, and hers by the WPA. In middle age, they approved of the Civil Rights movement, mourned over the infamous assassanations, and disapproved of Vietnam.

    To the end of their lives, they paid tribute to their country and also paid their dues, literally and figuratively. They were liberals, I guess, because they were never satisfied with the status quo, but always wanted something better. Where you sit is where you stand, my mother used to say, meaning your personal experience determines your outlook.

    I wouldn't despair too much about the bullies with the sidearms and the insurance industry scare tactics. Liberals can be pretty tough, too. Mother and Father were.

  8. thank you john - and i, too, attempt to leave my personal politics out of my gypsyworlds created here in blogland - but, like you, believe that sometimes we each much speak up and out - steamed and all! thanks again for your gracious reception to my steamed and all moment -

    have a wonderful friday!

    peace - jenean

  9. Hi Linda & Jacqueline & Jenean:

    Linda: I also am on Medicare & I must say it has many advantages to when I was self-insured thru a major company. Of course, because I have a significant medical condition, the premiums for supplemental insurance are still very high. Thanks for your support. Limbaugh & his ilk are beneath contempt, not merely for their hateful views, but more so because they spew those hateful views in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

    Jacqueline: Beautifully said. My dad also worked in the CCC & there's no question in my mind that he believed Roosevelt's programs saved him during the Depression. & yes, you definitely "got" what I was trying to get across in the title. Thanks!

    Jenean: Sometimes we just need to speak out! Thanks.

  10. The confluence of the resistance to a decent healthcare system and the right to walk around carrying assault riffles seems to place the extremist views of the American right in even more focus to us non-Americans. A lot of people over here in the UK were upset with the way in which our NHS was being portrayed by Fox News et al and at least one Tory MEP has come away from his excursion into American politics badly damaged. Power to the elbow of all those you you John who are fighting for a decent, caring, peaceful society. I am proud to be a fellow bleeding heart liberal.

  11. Hi Alan:

    They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Perhaps we can hold on to that thought. I'll say that your perception of extremism does seem pretty accurate, & I think we live in very troubling times here in the US.

  12. Hear hear!

    I get my political values from my crew-cut father and devout Catholic mother, died-in-wool libs both. My father grew up Irish in a town south of Boston and my mother came from a proud family headed by a Pittsburgh blue collar worker and union man.

    E. J. Dionne has an excellent column today on guns at Obama's appearances -- I'll link to it on Citizen K.

  13. Hi K:

    Thanks! My dad's politics were far from perfect--he was a man of his era in a number of ways. But he was pretty doggone clear-sighted about a lot of things, particularly as they related to how money & power tend to dictate policy.

    Will look forward to your post today.

  14. John, you should get up on that soapbox more often! I'm always up for a Bleeding Heart Liberal Rant -- the more the better.

    I had a major falling out with one of my sisters last spring over the gun issue, which saddens me greatly.

    And thanks for the pointer to my blog!

  15. Hi T:

    Sorry to hear about the falling out; that is hard. I guess I have to be pretty irked before I write these sorts of posts. I sure was that day! Glad you enjoyed it, & thank you for posting that insurance story. Hope that works out (last I saw, looked like it's going to).


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