The Gray Line Tour: What is a liberal? Let’s talk

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 3, 2002


Not long ago, I enjoyed a political discussion about the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives want to maintain the status quo. Liberals want to change it.

My question in return is: What’s wrong with that?

Sometimes, the status quo needs to be upset. Sometimes, the status quo is simply wrong.

Take a few examples from American history, such as the movement to grant women the right to vote. One hundred years ago, a woman could not vote, hold office, enter the professions or achieve economic independence from a man, usually either her father or her husband. Was it wrong to change that status quo?

Should we return to the political beliefs of our Founding Fathers, who held that black people were subhuman? No, of course that’s wrong. However, it was liberals who changed that, dragging conservatives kicking all the way.

Take Prohibition. Was it a liberal idea to establish it or to end it? Certainly, it was liberal to establish it, as it changed the status quo, but these liberals also had the moral high ground.

Let’s be careful in our definitions.

LEONARD GRAY is assistant managing editor of L’Observateur. He may be reached at (985) 652-9545.