The saying “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” is a saying that is perpetually used by people on the Right of the Political Spectrum to label Liberals and people who are on the Left of the Political Spectrum.
I was a hardened Liberal. I held concrete Liberal beliefs and I genuinely believed anyone who identified as Conservative and Right-Wing are selfish and heartless individuals who are more concerned with their own well-being than the well-being of the underprivileged and less fortunate around them. I was very adamant that my Liberal beliefs will never waver.
The 2nd President of the United States, John Adams once said: “If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at 40 you have no brain”. When I first came across this quote, I was frankly insulted. Deep in the crevices of my mind, I insisted that I will still be a Liberal at age 40; a compassionate and intellectual Liberal, just to prove Adams wrong. Boy, I got it so wrong.
What exactly is a Liberal? Someone who identifies as a Liberal can be described a person who is willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own and are open to new ideas. Even today, I believe I am the perfect fit for this description.
From a political standpoint, Liberals are on the Left of the Political Spectrum (Left-Wing), whereas Conservatives are on the Right (Right-Wing). I was proud to identify as a Liberal. Little did I know that a few years down the road, I would come to the realisation that people who identify as Liberal usually turns out to be extremely illiberal and intolerant. Perhaps I was guilty of being just that little bit naive.
What are the political beliefs and viewpoints of Liberals and Conservatives? There are many issues but for the sake of time, I’ll list 5 of the most common viewpoints in the table below:
||Believes in open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants.
||Believes in legal immigration and strict enforcement of immigration laws.
||Believes in Universal Healthcare.
||Believes in privatised Healthcare, the state should not be in control of Healthcare
||Marriage for all individuals should be legal.
||Marriage is the union of one man and one woman; opposes LGBT marriages.
||Social security acts as a safety net for the vulnerable and therefore should not be reduced.
||Social security is a financial burden on the state, individuals should manage their own savings.
||A woman has the right to decide what happens with her body. A foetus is not a human life, so it does not have separate individual rights.
||Abortion is the murder of a human being, human life begins at conception.
As the staunch Liberal that I was back then, I held Liberal beliefs for all the above-mentioned issues. I felt the Conservative point of view was too inhumane and lacked compassion. As of 2017, the only issue that I still retain a Liberal slant on is healthcare.
The turning point in the shift of my political views was a General Education lesson that was part of the curriculum at Singapore Polytechnic back in 2012. The lecturer, an entertaining and genial African lady, was discussing euthanasia with our class. Majority of the students in the class were insistent that an individual should have the right to end his own life (a Liberal viewpoint). In the midst of the debate, I remarked that I am extremely uncomfortable with legalising euthanasia as they could lead to assisted suicides of non-critical patients. Insurance companies would also encourage doctors to deny life-saving treatment, which is often expensive.
Hold on a minute, anti-euthanasia is a Conservative viewpoint! As someone who dwells on his thoughts for a prolonged period of time, I started mentally regurgitating the things I’ve said in that particular lesson. I actually held a Conservative belief, but Conservative beliefs are often self-serving and not in the interest of the general population! Although I can see why there are many people who believe that euthanasia should be legalised and I respect their point of view, I simply could not bring myself to adopt a pro-euthanasia belief.
A few weeks later, the topic of the debate was abortion. During the heated debate, I stated that I am against the idea of abortion, as human life begins at contraception and to abort the foetus is against the human rights of the foetus. Unsurprisingly, the words “sexism” and “misogynistic” rang out across the classroom. Once again, I sided with a Conservative point of view in a debate. It was a very different experience though, as the heated debate eventually descended into profanity-filled slurs and insults (which was ultimately resolved with a few humble apologies from both sides).
To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. I was taken aback at the uncivilised retorts and profanity-filled remarks by the pro-abortion side. Being pro-abortion is a Liberal belief, and Liberals are supposed to be respectful of opposing views and be open to new ideas. Their behaviour did not fit the definition of Liberalism! As Liberals, they should be respectful of the opposing point of view and not try to shut down the debate with profanity-laden insults.
Remarkably enough, those on the anti-abortion side are the ones who actually made the effort to ensure the debate was respectful and emphasised that we understood why people might be pro-abortion, even though we are not in favour of abortion.
In 2013, I started taking a deep interest in the events unfolding in Syria. As a Liberal, I was aghast at the atrocities (or some would call it alleged atrocities) committed by the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad on the ordinary Syrian citizens. General Education lessons in 2013 were focused on the Arab Spring and the escalation of violence in Syria, and as a Liberal, I remarked that Bashar Al-Assad should be deposed immediately so peace could be restored in Syria. What a naive and foolish person I was back then.
With the escalation of the violence and rise of ISIS in 2014, refugees started to flee Syria and made their way towards Lebanon, Jordan and Europe. Being the Liberal that I was, I was critical of the European countries who refuse to take in the “refugees” and disgusted at the concerted efforts made by countries such as Hungary to stop them entering their countries. I was naive enough to believe that these “peaceful refugees” should be granted asylum in countries such as France and the United Kingdom, despite them breaching the international law that states refugees should seek refuge in the first safe country they set foot on.
At the start of 2015, the “refugee” situation in Europe was beginning to descend into a full-blown crisis. Photographs of the “refugees” violently breaking down fences in Macedonia in an attempt to cross into Greece struck my beliefs hard.
I’ve always believed these “refugees” are peace-loving people like you and me, who just want to live their lives in peace. Why are they behaving so violently? Isn’t Macedonia a safe country? Why do they need to break down the border fence and get to Greece? Why are they in Macedonia in the first place? To get to Macedonia from Syria would require passing through Turkey and Bulgaria, and both of these countries are safe countries! I was supportive of these “refugees” breaking the “First Safe Country Law” as I believed all they want is a chance at a peaceful existence. Their violent and barbaric behaviour in Macedonia was the start of my shift in political stance on immigration.
From 2012 to 2015, my views on euthanasia, abortion and immigration changed completely, and I started to question myself. “Am I a true Liberal?” was the question that raged in my head.
I’ve always prided myself on my liberal attitude. I am very open to new ideas and I am very respectful of the differing beliefs of others. I am able to befriend someone who has a totally opposite political standpoint. However, I have adopted Conservative beliefs with regards to euthanasia, abortion and immigration! How can I hold Conservative beliefs, yet be open to new ideas and respectful of differing opinions? That’s not possible, Conservatives are self-centered! I tried to force myself to accept euthanasia, abortion and open borders, in order to return to being a “full-fledged Liberal”, but I just couldn’t do it.
Is it really possible to hold Conservative beliefs and yet be liberal? Many people will claim that’s an oxymoron, but I beg to differ. I was so blind all along that I couldn’t reconcile the fact that people who identify as Conservatives can be liberal in their attitudes too, without identifying politically as a Liberal.
Did I try too hard to adopt views that are traditionally held by those to the Left of the Political Spectrum, so that I could be labelled as an open-minded, tolerant and inclusive Liberal? I think it’s crystal clear now that adopting Liberal beliefs doesn’t make one a Liberal, having an open mind and respect for differing political opinions, be it Left or Right, makes one liberal.
In recent years, it is very prominent that majority of the people who call themselves Liberals, preaching peace and love are the most illiberal and intolerant people out there. From the celebrations and disrespectful remarks from the Liberals at the death of Margaret Thatcher (and I am no fan of her, trust me), to the Brexit Referendum and the election of Donald Trump, people who identify as Liberals have showcased their utter intolerance on social media, especially Twitter.
From shutting down debates with cries of “racism”, “sexism” and other types of -ism’s and -istics to physical assaults as seen by violent, hooded Antifa thugs, these Liberals have demonstrated just how illiberal they are. They are frightened to hear an opinion that is different from theirs. They are too emotionally immature to deal with it. They simply cannot allow someone with a differing opinion to voice their opinion as they lack the intellectual capability to engage in a proper debate. These people call themselves Liberals. It seems like a dictionary is something that is lacking in their homes. I suggest doing a 1-minute check in the dictionary, it will do these intolerant “Liberals” a world of good.
Dear Liberals, stop lecturing others about tolerance when the behaviour you exhibit is the exact opposite of tolerance. When you display your utter intolerance and contempt for what being liberal stands for with your sore-loser attitudes with regards to the Brexit Referendum and the election of Donald Trump, you have lost the moral high ground to preach. “Do as I say, not as I do” seems to be the new motto of the Liberals nowadays.
To all Liberals (people who identify as Liberal/Left on the Political Spectrum) and are genuinely respectful of differing opinions and beliefs, I take my hats off to you. It seems like you’re in the minority among everybody who identify as Liberals.
As for the Conservatives, there are many people who hold Conservative beliefs who are intolerant as well, but I personally find that it’s not as rampant as compared to those who identify as Liberals.
You do not see Conservative Party supporters in the UK attacking Labour supporters at a Labour Party Conference, yet the opposite is true. You do not see Donald Trump and Republican supporters attacking people for holding an American flag, yet the display of such uncivilised behaviour is rampant among the Democrats and Antifa, whose attitudes are as fascist as they get. You do not see Conservatives rushing onto the stage to grab the microphone from a Liberal speaker, yet Milo Yiannopoulos has had his speeches cancelled and microphone snatched away by hysterical and unhinged Liberal members of the audience.
If anything, people who identify as Conservatives are now the modern-day liberals. Majority of Conservatives hold staunch Conservative beliefs but they respect the differing political opinions held by their Liberal counterparts and are more than willing to get into a detailed and mature debate. Whereas for the majority of Liberals who are as intolerant and illiberal as they get, from stifling debates to physically attacking Conservatives for expressing their point of view, it seems like the comparisons to Joseph Stalin, Kim Jong-il and Nicolae Ceaucescu aren’t too far off the mark.