“So what’s your number one reason for being a liberal?”
The question caught me slightly off guard. I do not consider myself a liberal, nor do those who are familiar with my politics. But I didn’t really know this man. He is, however, a wealthy white man in his mid-50s, and a childhood friend of my boss. On top of that, we were on our way to a bar, so rather than explain why I consider myself some mixture of a socialist, anarchist, liberal, social democrat, and nondescript leftist, I answered his question.
“Well, we could talk about what we think is most important for the country as a whole, but for me personally-”
“For you, what’s your number one reason?”
“For me, it’s voting rights. I don’t think that there is any good reason to prevent people from voting.”
There was a pause. “Voting rights. So you don’t think that there should be any restrictions on people voting? Not even showing photo ID?”
“So if I just walked into a polling place, and said I was you, and voted, you’d be okay with that?”
“Voter fraud doesn’t happen. The risk is so low as to be-”
“No, no, tell me. If I walked into a polling place, and said I was you, and I voted, you’d be okay with that?”
“But why? We have to show ID to buy beer.”
“Buying beer is not a right. As much as I love it, beer is not necessary for the functioning of democracy.”
“Well, voting isn’t technically a right, either.”
Another pause. A deeper pause. He laughed a bit, mussed up my hair, and said “So you’re one of those types.”
I said yes, because frankly, I am one of those types. I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I believe that people—all people, every single person—has the right to a say in their government, and I believe that when a nation denies this right to its people, it sins. I believe that the more democratic our government, society, and economy are, the better off we will all be. But thinking about it more, I do not want to be a part of any movement which does not value these things. I suppose that’s why I don’t call myself a “liberal.” I suppose that’s why I’m one of those types.