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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“Liberals, let’s admit our own hypocrisy”

Before I came to the UA, I didn’t have a clear-cut political affiliation. I vaguely remember playing the conservative part to piss off the liberal girls in high school — which I had thought to be the apex of instigative game spitting, but which never actually worked for me — and though it was easy to anger and frustrate with intense conservative views, it was even easier to become an ardent, self-identifying liberal when I started college.

Here at the UA, we’re inculcated with a myriad of fresh perspectives that usually undo or very seriously deepen our understanding of viewpoints we had taken as fundamental truths about life. One of the main reasons it’s so easy to adopt a liberal political stance is because conservative views are held synonymous with status quo views — that is, the established order, the dominant paradigm, etc. Conversely, that which defies and ultimately shatters the status quo, breaks down barriers and illuminates perspectives, is fundamentally liberal.

A lot of professors around campus echo this kind of understanding. I remember vividly when one of my professors referenced Dante’s circles of hell and reminded us that the final circle, the worst circle, was reserved for traitors and liars — like Wall Street bankers, he said — probably also Bush and Cheney.

With my professor’s edification, I defended my position as a registered Democrat and generally liberal person with verve. In fact, during the presidential elections I told anyone who’d listen about the flaw I’d detected in conservative philosophy, which took the form of a fundamental contradiction. That contradiction followed that “”conservative”” actually means conservative government involvement — that is, the government is conservative in its exertion of power. In a more general sense, a conservative government is one that in no way impedes the individual choices of its citizens. What’s contradictory about this is that the Republican Party self-identifies as the conservative party, the party that won’t impose itself on its citizens, yet it espouses and is more than willing to impose a very specific set of moral principles — so one example might be, the government illegalizes abortion, but isn’t going to increase taxes to fund orphanages.

The truth is that, moralistically, not all professed conservatives or Republican Party members are on the same page — I know lots of students around campus that say they just don’t want their freedoms impeded, and believe that the Republican Party is the better of the two, in terms of keeping taxation and government intervention to a minimum. We’ll call these people the fiscal conservatives, and as a group, they make up the bulk of conservatives on campus that I’ve met. In truth, I’ve never met a UA student who has told me that creationism is indisputable fact, gays should be committed or all foreigners need to be killed or kept out.

In acknowledging this, I began to reevaluate the integrity of my own political philosophy. In doing so, I had to come to terms with a depressing truth: there’s just as much contradiction in liberal philosophy as conservative. Here though, liberal philosophy isn’t just about how involved the government is, but rather what the government’s involvement is about: the government exists to ensure the freedom of its people by intervening when necessary for the benefit of the socially/economically marginalized — everyone except for conservatives and Republicans.

This seems like a pretty big problem. I’ve owned Che Guevara posters, I’ve listened to Enya, I’ve had pretentious, high and mighty observations about established orders, marijuana usage and the social implications of Rohan Marley’s “”free love”” relationship with Lauryn Hill — I’ve even looked at UA’s College Republicans with disdain.

The thing is, in doing these things I’m basically being a hypocrite. As a proposed solution, instead of freedom and equal opportunity for everyone, let’s, as liberals, pick something else as a cornerstone — or try and recognize that almost half of the nation doesn’t vote Republican, or self identify as conservative, just because they’re stupid.

— James Carpenter is a senior majoring in English and linguistics. He can be reached at


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