Recently, a reader wanted to know whether I was aware that Creators Syndicate, which distributes my column, identifies me as a “liberal” on its website.
Is this really the first thing you want readers to know about you? she wondered.
Her intentions were kind. I assured her I’m fine with it.
I already had been a columnist for five years when, in 2008, Creators started identifying all of us by our politics to give newspaper clients a better idea of who we are. At first, I bristled. I was afraid the label would alienate conservative readers who think liberal women hate God, men and marriage — a prevalent theme of angry mail. I also thought it defined me too narrowly. I’m a lot of things, I whined to nobody interested in listening. “Liberal” doesn’t begin to tell that story.
My editor helped me get over myself. He said I could drop the label. Like a recalcitrant teenager who crumbles in the face of parental largesse, I decided to let it be.
Really, it’s truth in advertising. I grew up in a working-class family that praised God, Democrats and union benefits. I am a liberal, out of gratitude and with no apology. Declaring that upfront is either an assurance or a warning, depending on your point of view, but at least you can’t accuse me of a bait-and-switch.
President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address has sparked a lot of discussion about what it means to be a liberal in 2013. Amazingly, he sounded like one, which made a lot of us happy and others wail like the wounded.
Much of the commentary has focused on this passage of the president’s address:
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began, for our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.
“Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.
“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.