Are you a closet liberal like me?

Yeah, I’m confused. I graduated from the Naval Academy, slept in the dirt with Marines—Oorah! Higher taxes—forget it. You should work for your money, just like I must—hard—staying up nights, worrying about making ends meet, not smokin’ your disability money up in dope, or scamming the USA out of trillions of dollars to keep your corporate bank making billions of dollars, so you can cruise to Vegas in a Lear Jet. I don’t really like big government, or people from the same distant planet telling me what to do all the time. But, I’ve worked for government most of my adult life. And, I love to fly fish, hear the splashing song of the river, the hawk cry above, feel the pull on the end of the rod, and see the orange and green cutthroat jump from water as clear as a Rocky Mountain morning. I never want that to end—are you kidding? When my fly, my creation of feather and fur, is taken by a wild fish, there is something that pulls loose in my head and tugs on my heart. That is real. That is precious. We should never give that up. None of us. And if you haven’t seen the stream and the fish, and felt the pull, you must. I’ll be happy to take you and show you.

Stream in Rocky Mountain National Park

Because, I want you to get rip-roaring mad like I do at oil spills in Gulf waters, ruining eons of nature that created bayous teaming with life; clear-cut timber scars on a mountain of pines, previously as beautiful as a postcard; and natural gas rigs in the middle of a pristine prairie, obtained by fracking, which pollutes the water of hard-working farmers and ranchers—so bad you can light the water with a match. All for the sake of profit? Son of a b…! Yet all these things allow me to live in a nice neighborhood with wooden fences, in a wood-sided house, heated or air-conditioned to my comfort; or ride my twenty-seven-speed, carbon-alloy road bike over manicured bicycle trails complete with wooden bridges; not to mention pull a trailer with my SUV across two states at 9 miles per gallon to a place where wild fish live. God I’m confused: Liberal or conservative?

It seems to me others have that same question (maybe not Bill Maher: liberal in all things, or Sarah Palin: conservative forever), and are confused about which tack to take.

Until it comes close to home.

Some oil tycoon starts ruining my streams or Gulf or mountains—they’re done. I don’t own a gun, nor do I want to kill anyone (Sarah Palin shoots herself in another appendage daily. It’s so much fun watching.); however, I do think there should be three simple rules: 1) Don’t ever (yes, that is emphatic), ever spill oil in the Gulf of Mexico, or Alaska, or the Russian steppe, or any other wilderness equivalent, again. You can spill all you want inside your Cadillac, or maybe bathe the streets of your Dallas penthouse with it—those would be okay, not fantastic, but quite apropos for an oil baron. 2) You want to frack? Fine, do it under some freeway in Houston or perhaps LA. Nobody drinks the water there. If you must frack in the wilderness, try places around Three-Mile Island, or maybe Chernobyl. They won’t mind contaminated water—it probably already glows in the dark.

Finally, there is simple rule 3): If you feel like you must break rule 1) or 2), call me. I will take you fly fishing for wild cutthroats in a gin-clear mountain stream surrounded by elk and golden aspen, in a morning you must breathe in deep and hold it so it will never go away. Because if you continue to frack and spill and scar our land so you can have an island to yourself in the Caribbean, that may be the last breath of clean mountain air, or last wild trout you will see; the aquamarine Caribbean teaming with fish will be brown and dead. Please let me know, and I’ll take you into the wilderness and show you why you should stop. There are others out there, like in Dan’s War, who are not as nice as me, not nearly.

Still not sure—liberal or conservative—but more light is getting into the closet.
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A comment you might enjoy, and food for thought. Do oil spills actually enhance the environment? What are your thoughts?

Comment from 10/22/11

I class myself as a conservative. I find that the positions generally attributed to conservative and liberal have little to do with the principles that go with the philosophy. Example: conservatives want to cut taxes- the conservative position is fiscal responsibility which, at present, dictates raise taxes and cut spending. Many on the other side of the aisle don’t seem to get the 2nd part. I think your essay is generally what I think. I will point out that polluting drinking water is, in fact, much different than oil spills and clear cutting. Clear cuts regrow and during their cycle allow for considerable biodiversity. (Though not related, I prefer clear cut for forest cycling to what is going on around Steamboat.) Oil spills are inconvenient but the evidence shows the systems return to usual after some time- actual useful time not geologic. Gas in the aquafor is considerably different. It is a problem now and for a long time. In the end, I doubt that anything you or I do will make much difference. Our human need to reproduce (grandchildren are really neat) will overwhelm us. Agent Smith may be right. As you can see, I have developed a major case of nihilism. I have to say, however, that the nihilism has been liberating in its way. Though I make major effort to behave responsibly and with respect for others and the environment, I have given up the angst of knowing it will inevitably be of no use. It allows me to enjoy every day to its fullest and appreciate those around me. Gary

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12 thoughts on “Are you a closet liberal like me?

  1. J.H. Bock

    There is nothing closeted about my liberalism. I have returned recently from a conference in Atlanta and played hooky from what I was supposed to be learning to go to Ebenezer Baptist Church. There I stepped inside and found myself crying. I felt humiliated, but I did so long for someone who was so dedicated to non-violent protest towards violence to have lived to old age. Imagine the wisdom we could have gained as he looked back over a long life.

     
    Reply
  2. DeAnna

    I want the oil companies to work for their money like everyone else – and to abide by the principal of “you break it, you bought it.” They’ve broken a lot of things that we just handwaved away in the name of cheap energy. Which makes us complicit…but still leaves them with the responsibility to clean up things. Like BP and Iraq…

     
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    1. milt

      Thanks, Deanna
      It has been frustrating, to say the least, watching them take in billions of dollars of profits every quarter while everyone else is suffering. That’s partly why I wrote Dan’s War, and wanted to publish it now, to make people think. There are two sides, though it seems the one side is raking in a lot more moolah! Hope you have a great week. I’ll check out your site.
      Milt

       
      Reply
  3. Gary Steele

    Obviously, not much to think about here. I class myself as a conservative. I find that the positions generally attributed to conservative and liberal have little to do with the principles that go with the philosophy. Example: conservatives want to cut taxes- the conservative position is fiscal responsibility which, at present, dictates raise taxes and cut spending. Many on the other side of the aisle don’t seem to get the 2nd part. I think your essay is generally what I think. I will point out that polluting drinking water is, in fact, much different than oil spills and clear cutting. Clear cuts regrow and during their cycle allow for considerable biodiversity. (Though not related, I prefer clear cut for forest cycling to what is going on around Steamboat.) Oil spills are inconvenient but the evidence shows the systems return to usual after some time- actual useful time not geologic. Gas in the aquafor is considerably different. It is a problem now and for a long time. In the end, I doubt that anything you or I do will make much difference. Our human need to reproduce (grandchildren are really neat) will overwhelm us. Agent Smith may be right. As you can see, I have developed a major case of nihilism. I have to say, however, that the nihilism has been liberating in its way. Though I make major effort to behave responsibly and with respect for others and the environment, I have given up the angst of knowing it will inevitably be of no use. It allows me to enjoy every day to its fullest and appreciate those around me. I look forward to visiting you in Colorado. Good company, good food , good wine and good conversation are good reasons for another day. If you have reason to be in this area, please let us know. With respect, Gary

     
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    1. milt

      Gary,
      Thanks for the comment. I can see your thinker has continued to grow. You’re discussion is though-provoking, and though, as you say, nihilistic, hopeful and respectful of life. Look forward to seeing you and more discussions, though beer is my preference, and king in Ft. Collins!
      Milt

       
      Reply
  4. Paul Wehr

    Milt,

    Thank you for your observations in a language most should be able to understand. We need to keep saying it again and again until it stops.

     
    Reply
    1. milt

      Thanks Paul. I hope you get a chance to look at Dan’s War, too, as I think it is a much bigger comment on similar issues. Hope some others read the post, too. Tight Lines!. Milt

       
      Reply

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