How To Be a Better Liberal in Trump’s America

04.04.17
Rachel Maddow
Culture + Religion /04 Apr 2017
04.04.17

How To Be a Better Liberal in Trump’s America

Being a liberal is a matter of great pride to liberals like me, and we never shy away from wearing our liberalism on our sleeves. As we come to terms with life in a near parallel universe of a Trump presidency, we liberals might have to identify with a newer version of ourselves, for reasons different than we would have expected.

We have to adapt to the changing times, and this holds truer now than ever before. This means letting go of our old liberal self, and embracing the new in order to accurately reflect the realities that we face today. In doing so, it’s important to remember not to become a mirror version of the individuals (read: conservatives) that we so fervently oppose and the values, attitudes and behaviors that they embrace.

How do you become a better liberal in Trump’s America?

Liberalism has always been about everyone being free and equal to everyone else in society and fighting for the right to achieve this. But in today’s modern climate, one’s responsibilities as a liberal go much further. It is more important than ever to see both sides of the equation by voicing support for the rights of others and being willing to fight for those rights while exercising one’s own rights.

Trump’s rapid ascension and rise to power is as much owing to missteps by liberals as it is to the growing conservative movement. One thing the election result made clear was that the liberals erred royally and the negative outcome was primarily because we had strayed ever so much from our roots. Being fair while supporting one’s views has been one of the great hallmarks of liberalism. However, through the run up to the election, the most ardent liberals eschewed this approach in favor of favoritism and bias towards one of their own. This pervaded the upper echelons of all the major sectors, especially entertainment, media and technology, and the New York Times post-election assessment attested to this. This prejudice, which is counter to liberal philosophy, is what made conservatives skeptical about the new political order and ultimately disillusioned them. In turn, it impelled them to come out in droves to vote against growing liberal clout. This was an exceptional cautionary tale, and there are many lessons that should be internalized by all liberals so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

Everyone is equal — everyone is equal. So, if you care so much about migrants, some of them refugees fleeing war and famine, please also spare a thought for the marginalized and the often ridiculed American rural men and women. Displaying extreme concern for the former and completely ignoring the latter, our fellow citizens, is a travesty of liberalism and isn’t going to take you far. In a similar vein, generalizing all country folks as “rednecks” and categorizing them as a bunch of racist, ignorant folks is absurd. There are good and bad people in all groups and communities. There also seems to be a growing, unnecessary trend: urban liberals regard people living in rural areas as uncouth, uneducated and some liberals casually mock or ridicule them.

Just because you live in a thriving metropolis full of diverse mostly successful people doesn’t make you superior or smarter than others living far away from the hustle and bustle. Nor does it give you any right to invalidate the struggles and rigor of a rural life. For what it’s worth, it is the everyday efforts of the hardworking people on the farms and in the factories that put food on your plate and provide you with goods. So, let’s as liberals, treat our opposition with respect and suspend our judgement till the final conversation is had. Sometimes, there are stories of pain and agony behind cold-hearted views, and without listening to people, we can never truly understand them. Just give it a chance! However, never relinquish your liberal spirit, and don’t give in to people who are extremely intolerant and unjust.

Admittedly, liberals like all species are not perfect, but we can improve. As liberals, we have special responsibilities, more so than people of any other inclination (be as unfair as that may be). It is our compassion, logic and rationality that makes the world so much more palatable. The progress of our civil society relies the most on our progressive mindsets and likely rests on our collective shoulders. So, let’s mingle with people of all kinds, have meaningful conversations with everyone, learn a little and refine ourselves to be better attuned to the changing face of the civil society. Be understanding as global citizens and look after everyone, not just a select few. Do it for our own good, if not for anyone else’s. And in the process, let’s hope that conservatives will re-evaluate themselves as well.

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