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Liberal a dirty word?

August 30, 2017
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

An Aug. 26 commentary published in a local newspaper entitled "Liberal Remains a Dirty Word Across Florida," noted that "nobody in Florida politics has admitted being a liberal in a long time." This, despite the state having more registered Democrats than Republicans, and having gone twice for Obama.

The terms liberal and conservative have not always matched up with the two political parties as they do today. Prior to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, southern Democrats were known for their conservative views, so much so that the famous Republican "Southern Strategy" created an electoral strategy to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans. It was so effective that much of the Deep South remains solidly Republican to this day.

Liberals, whether Republican as in the days of Lincoln, Democrat or Independent, have always been the on the forefront of progress. Today, many prefer the term Progressives. Since the turn of the last century, liberals have achieved virtually every important social improvement in American life, striving against conservative opposition. A partial list includes:

* The right of women to vote

* The end of child labor

* The National Park Service

* Social Security

* The 40-hour work week

* Time-and-a-half for overtime

* The minimum wage, and almost every increase in the minimum wage since it began

* Unemployment insurance

* The right of collective bargaining for workers

* Civil rights banning discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin

* Voting rights for racial minorities

* Medicare for the elderly

* Medicaid to provide health care for Americans in poverty and with disabilities

* The Occupational Safety and Health Act, for workplace safety

* The environmental acts, including the Clean Air and Clean Water acts

* Alternative energy sources

* Affordable health care for people who otherwise couldn't afford insurance

* Equal rights for gay people, including the right to serve in the military

Today, very few of us would give up the improvements we enjoy now or expect to in the future, like overtime pay, Social Security, Medicare, or a safe workplace. Some of us might like to argue against a few of these, but they are a minority of Americans today. Most of us take for granted these advancements in American lives, and want to see us keep pace with the rest of the developed world in good health, pay and quality of life.

Liberal a dirty word? Its definition is: favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms, opposed to authoritarianism, favorable to progress and education. It's synonyms are: tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened.

It's a word as American as the Constitution itself.

Susan McGuire

On behalf of Pine Island ROAR,

a grassroots advocacy group



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