I'm fed up with this absolutely insane notion coming out of the right wing that liberals "just want everything handed to them." That we don't contribute anything to society, and as such, we promote the ideas that we promote because it would mean we could continue to be shiftless. And I'm more fed up with hearing people say that being an artist is somehow a bad thing. And the line that makes me genuinely angry is when people tell me that liberals don't respect our soldiers. These claims are nothing short of ridiculous, and if this article doesn't settle that, then the person reading it is the failure in this equation.
First, let's tackle this concept that liberals want everything handed to us. Simply put, we don't. It's a basic philosophical difference between liberals and conservatives that these people utterly fail to comprehend. We believe that government should exist to improve the quality of life for Americans. Conservatives believe that the government is incapable of it, and/ or that people should be completely self-reliant. We believe that taxes should be lower for the poor and middle class, and higher for the rich, whereas conservatives feel that either taxes should be lower for everyone (as a result of a smaller government), or that the poor and middle class should carry the tax burden of the upper class. We have different philosophies of how government should be run. Here's the bottom line, and this will probably be the least popular thing I've ever said: None of us are correct, and none of us are wrong. That's because there is no right and wrong here. The idea of a serious debate is that you present two opposing views, and somewhere in the middle, progress happens. If you disagree with that assertion, then guess what? You aren't grown up enough for this conversation. Go to your room.
Liberals are no more lazy than you're selfish. Liberals work hard and contribute to society, and we're not asking that anyone get a free ride. Your convoluted and misinformed opinion of us tells you otherwise, but you're wrong. And not only is this label crass, it's despicably low-brow. Any serious liberal will be very quick to tell you that we're equally upset when people abuse the system. The difference here is that we're able to realize that not everyone buying eggs with food stamps or paying their rent with unemployment checks is lazy. We understand that poverty is a very serious issue, in this and every other nation. If you have a different solution to this problem, great. Is your solution better? No. Is ours? No. It's a basic difference of opinion on a philosophical level. There's no right or wrong here. The only "wrong" is your attitude. And the sooner you come to grips with that fact, the sooner you can be respected in a serious debate.
Next up, artists. Do you know where this planet would be without artists? We'd still be living in caves. That's a fact. Not an opinion, or an estimation, or a point of view by any other name. It's a cold, hard fact. Art is what feeds our culture, inspires innovation, and sets the stage for free thought. Without art, your car wouldn't exist, and if it did, it'd look like a box. Without art, you wouldn't be reading this text right now because we wouldn't have an internet, or websites like Newsvine, or the ability to read or write. Without art, your clothes would be void of design, if you even had clothes. Artists are a national treasure. If you want to live in a world without culture, go right ahead, but so long as I'm breathing, this country will never be that Orwellian. Art takes talent, creativity, motivation, and brilliance, and it can inspire all four of those things. How much talent, creativity, motivation, or brilliance do you inspire at your job? How much of these things does one need to complete your job?
I can cover the subject of respecting our soldiers, and every other subject discussed already, by giving you a brief history of my family on my mother's side. My Grandfather served this country valiantly in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. He was a decorated veteran of three wars, with medals and Presidential citations from two U.S. Presidents. What makes his story especially incredible is that he did all of this with black skin. As if the Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese weren't formidable opponents themselves, he had to face the challenges of blatant racism from his fellow countrymen the whole time. He devoted his life to our Armed Forces, and he wasn't paid nearly as much as some of his white counterparts. He raised a large family, and worked hard to support them, all while serving our country. Of course he wanted fame and wealth, but country came first. When he passed away a few years ago, my Grandfather was buried in a Veteran's cemetery in Upstate New York with full honors. I don't know why, but they didn't fire rifles like you see in movies. Instead, the soldiers sort of "mimed" the rifle shots with their hands. I assumed it had something to do with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but for obvious reasons, I didn't ask. To me, it almost seemed sort of degrading. The man spent his entire life serving our country, and they wouldn't fire rifles at his funeral? At any rate, my Grandfather, a war hero and a personal hero of mine, voted Democrat. Much of my liberal idealism can be traced directly to him. I defy anyone to question his patriotism, his service to our nation, or his work ethic.
My mom was an educator before cancer forced her to retire early. She owned a successful daycare center, ran out of our home, until her kids were old enough that she could take a job at a local elementary school, working with "Option 3" children. "Option 3" is New York State's fancy title for children with special needs. She started working for Broome County schools when I was in the sixth grade, and she stayed there until well after I finished High School, until she developed cancer, and my parents decided that she should retire early after having an hysterectomy. My mom was an active participant in local politics, and a devout liberal Democrat. Try and prove to me that my mom hasn't contributed to this country or that she did anything short of trying to make it better.
I could go on, talking about my brother, my uncles, and my cousins who all served in or are actively serving in the military. I could talk about my grandmother, an accomplished jazz musician, and her contributions to culture. I could bring up my friends who have served in the military, or other friends and acquaintances who are noted artists, and their contributions to our society as well. But I think I've made my point.
Disagreeing with someone on a philosophical level in no justifies questioning their contributions to our country. Just because we champion causes that benefit the poor, and want to pay for our programs by taxing the wealthy, doesn't mean we're "free-loaders" living off of the government's dime. It means we have ideas that might work as solutions to the problems this country faces. Do you have ideas that are vastly different from ours? Good. Present them with a sense of civility and graciousness, and maybe we can reach into the middle of the conversation and pull out some genuine progress. Otherwise, you aren't helping.