Being a liberal shouldn't mean being a chump. Yet that's how many on the right choose to paint liberals, and infinitely worse, that's how some latter-day liberals choose to lead their lives.
I've been a liberal a loooong time. In my lifetime, I've stood (and worked) for, among other things, civil rights, union's rights, women's rights and gay rights. But part of working for rights is having enough sense to tell rights apart from wrongs.
Some people like to say, "I haven't changed; everybody else has." That sounds good, but it can't possibly be true. Some change is inevitable. I like to think that I still adhere to the core principles that shaped me as a young person, while I continue to keep an open mind. That differentiates me from a lot of today's self-proclaimed liberals, who are willing to jump on the bandwagon for any and every crackpot notion that comes down the pike. This makes them as solid and dependable as ... oh, I don't know, registered independents.
The old saying goes that when zealots form a firing squad, they assemble in a circle. This is certainly as true on the left as it is on the right. Put a bunch of righties together in a room, and Michelle Bachmann emerges, talking about how the Founding Fathers fought against slavery. (Yes, she really said that! And she's in Congress.)
Meanwhile, if you get a bunch of soft-headed neo-liberals together and tell the first one that there are kids currently occupying United States soil who were brought here illegally by their parents, you'll have someone saying, "Well, we should give all of them college scholarships," by the time you get to the end of the circle.
It's no wonder people like Glenn Beck pop up out of nowhere.
I've been generally pleased with the feedback that I've received after last week's column in which I stated that the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act should offer the children of illegal immigrants the choice of military service or domestic national service (and not college attendance) as a means to get on the path to U.S. citizenship. I believe that equating military service with going to college isn't just apples and oranges; it's apples and Volkswagens.
I heard from several people who think this is a common-sense approach that might just put the Obama administration out in front on the issue, and it would be a good thing for those kids and the country as well.
Of course, I also heard from whiners who all started their screeds with, "You call yourself a liberal?!"
Let's get it straight, once and for all: Liberals should want to help make people's lives better, not easier. Show me somebody who has had an easy life, and I'll show you Lindsay Lohan. Or Paris Hilton. Or George W. Bush. They don't get it because they've never had to go get it.
I feel for the kids who are hoping to get a version of the DREAM Act passed sometime soon. But that doesn't mean that I think they should just be handed something. That wouldn't be right, and it wouldn't be fair. They don't deserve something for nothing, because nobody deserves something for nothing.
Advocacy groups and some media folks are constantly trying to guilt people. There was a column in the Arizona Daily Star a few weeks back about this 19-year-old guy who got popped for being in this country illegally (through no fault of his own). He had bounced around a bunch of charter schools and still didn't have a diploma, and he's now hoping to marry his 16-year-old girlfriend in an effort to stay in this country. I guess I was supposed to feel bad for him, but I'm sorry: If you're 19 years old, and you can't even graduate from a charter school, you kinda suck.
And if your idea of sticking it to The Man involves marrying a 16-year-old girl, then ... well, you know, you kinda suck.
I'm not one of those "Let's send 'em all back!" kind of people. I understand how they got here, and I appreciate that they want to stay here. I just don't think it's fair that they get a free pass. National service seems much fairer than letting everybody go to college. (Plus, there's the real possibility that a lot of these young people don't want to go to college and could end up being successful without ever having done so.)
One responder wrote, "The years between the Vietnam War and Kuwait were years that no soldier was in harm's way." (Tell that to the 240 who died in the Beirut bombing.) "College and soldiering were at the same level. Going to college and getting a degree will improve America by producing a person (who) will contribute to the economy much more than a soldier (who) is costing the taxpayer money."
Yeah, except for the fact that having these kids go into the military puts the country first and then benefits the individual later on down the road, while going to college puts the individual first and then maybe benefits the country in the long run.
Life shouldn't work that way. America shouldn't work that way.