Through the years of childhood and for some time as a young adult, when asked if I were conservative or liberal the answer was automatic and without hesitation. I replied that I was liberal.
Of course, the declaration of an ideology did not come on the heels of exhaustive comparative studies; rather, it was based on a definition provided by one of my teachers. It remains the simplest and perhaps, the most accurate description to date.
Liberal vs. Conservative: If you do not like it when other people tell you what you must or must-not do, you are liberal.
Show me bright-eyed youngsters that yearn to hear NO from parents. Where is that young man, who believes mandatory school attendance (with no say by the mandated attendee) is a joyous life circumstance? Who appointed great gaggles of fuddy-duddy church ladies to sit in judgment of prim and proper behavior for me and my peers?
With an endless future in which not even the sky is a limiting factor, the fear-be-damned indestructibility of youth cannot tolerate such stupid, self-limiting antique thinking. Throw in the idea that liberal means more and conservative means less (…more is always better than less, is it not?) and the insanity of conservative thinking rings clear as a bell.
In 1976, my political attention span was barely measurable. I liked Jimmy Carter's friendly smile and when he spoke, the "feelings" were optimistic and hopeful. Compared to the dull tones of Gerald Ford, it seemed that the choice for President was easy.
The Presidential election came a few months too soon for me to vote for Jimmy Carter, but I certainly would have. Looking back now, I shudder to recall the consequences of that election. America needed a steady, firm hand at the helm. America needed a bold, confident voice.
What America got was nearly a rationing of gasoline, sky-scraping economy-crippling interest rates, and the hand-over of a strategically critical asset (the Panama Canal), purchased with blood, sweat, and tears of a past generation. The American people witnessed the birth of Muslim terrorism in Iran. Our citizens were imprisoned in our own embassy, and the lunatics had their way without the burden of fear or trepidation.
The smile-encrusted, happy sounding words from Jimmy Carter did not lead to Bliss-on-Earth as my "feelings" had suggested would be the case. Instead, my entry to young adulthood came as our nation reeled from one sucker punch after another.