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May 24, 2003

Are you a liberal?

[Ed: Originally posted on Slumbering Pierrot, Thu Jun 26]

As a blog friend stated recently, the answer depends on the definition. That's useful but not helpful and I doubt that a dictionary definition is going to help because of the lack of context. In fact the lack of context suggests that different people might have different ideas about what the word means. In fact, the term probably has specific meaning to different people (for an Australian, the question is similar to asking an American if they are 'republican').

Because I am biased (I have been to America), I thought it would be more useful to interview a local and get his opinion in a completely meaningless survey:

Introducing: Charlie from the Outback (of Australia). A translator has been used for those of you who find it hard to read strine [Australian].

Me: Hello Charlie.
Charlie: Gdaymate, owaryagoing orright? [Hello]
Me: How are you?
Charlie: Carncomplain, nawon lissens. [Fine thank you]
Me: Are you a liberal?
Charlie: (Shocked) Nah mate, national orl the way, mate. Karnt stan the bastards. [I support the National Party]
Me: Have you seen my aeroplane?
Charlie: Nah mate, sgorn for a smokko [???]

Explanation: In Australia there is the labor party (union based, only-just left of center, workers), the liberal party (employer based, only-just right of center, economics) and the national party (farmer based, center, agriculture). There are other specialist parties for rednecks (One Nation, Shooters), socialists (democrats, communists) and environmentalists (greens) but the big three hold the power with an alliance between the liberals and nationals currently governing Australia.

Basically the question is one that does not "translate" across cultural boundaries. I think (guessing wildly) that an American would link the concept of "liberal" with someone who has a relaxed attitude to things. Conceptually it is hard to imagine a right-wing conservative party as being relaxed and so the term does not translate. The closest thing here might be the former democrats (who are more relaxed than most parties) or possibly the marijuana party (who never seem to get organised enough to get elected). Personally I would rather call myself flexible than liberal. I am aware that there are people out there who do not share my point of view and I am prepared to allow them to continue to do so. That does not mean that I accept their view as being correct or even valid but it does mean that I have no objection to them holding that view as long as they return the favour .

OK. Let's cut to the chase. What do I really believe (or vote - remember that voting is compulsary in Australia)? I am a WASC (White Anglo Saxon Catholic) married to an "ethnic" (horrible word) migrant. My policy is normally to vote against the incumbent on the theory that politicians are like babies nappies. If you leave them for too long, they end up full of sh*t.

Posted by Peskie at May 24, 2003 12:00 PM