February 5, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Reality Has A Well-Known Liberal Bias, And So Do Our Values
now with 99% more liberal bias – tagline of The Left Call
“reality has a well-known liberal bias” – Stephen Colbert
The above quote is from Stephen Colbert’s performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner. The full context is, “Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in ‘reality’. And reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
Colbert is brilliant at delivering lines like this, but is this just a joke or is there some truth to the idea that reality has a liberal bias? I think the better question is, what does liberal bias stand for in our society and our democracy? After all, I think we tend to associate bias with adjectives like ‘bad’ and ‘inaccurate’ because we are falsely led to believe that the best answer lies somewhere in the middle.
First, I’d like to clear up something for conservatives and maybe even a few liberals who question the tagline of this site, ‘now with 99% more liberal bias’. It’s tongue-in-cheek people! Yes, this is a left-leaning political and social commentary website, but the goal of this site isn’t liberal bias for the sake of liberal bias. The goal is to espouse the ideas of freedom, liberty, equality and diversity that are liberalism. The tagline ‘now with 99% more liberal bias’ is meant to humorously acknowledge the intent and purpose of The Left Call.
What does liberal bias stand for in our society and our democracy? To figure that out we must understand the values that make up liberalism.
Whether it’s freedom of speech, freedom of the press or freedom to practice your faith, freedom is the foundation of liberalism.
Tolerance and respect for different opinions, ideas, faiths. The belief that all people be treated fairly and justly by the law and that no person or group should receive favoritism.
Directly related to equality, liberals believe we have a stronger society and democracy with greater diversity, including an ability to respect and embrace the things that make us different.
Human beings should govern themselves, but liberals understand it takes a special kind of representative democracy “of the people, by the people, for the people” to make this possible, otherwise a majority can inflict tyranny on a minority. If one person’s liberty is not safe, nobody’s liberty is safe.
“In Order to form a more perfect Union” we must not align with rigid ideology or be unwilling to alter viewpoints when presented with overwhelming evidence. Liberals understand the passage of time tends to erode tenets that once seemed unshakable.
Helping those who are less fortunate and believing this should be a shared value of every citizen of this great country. Therefore, it is a fundamental responsibility of our government to do what it can for the poor and disenfranchised. Liberals understand that many become disenfranchised through no fault of their own.
In order for you to freely practice your religion you must also recognize the right of others to freely practice their religion – even if that religion differs from your own – or practice no religion at all. This is why government cannot endorse any religion.
Because the foundation of liberalism is freedom and liberty, liberals believe we must protect freedom and liberty if under attack. If we aren’t secure, we aren’t free. But liberals believe the opposite is also true.
When people cite liberal bias, do they think about the values listed above? In a fair and just society, is it biased to believe in freedom, diversity and compassion? Is it biased to believe in secularism and the separate of church and state to ensure religious freedom for all? Is it biased to believe in equality for all, even if that equality conflicts with your lifestyle or your religion? Is it biased to believe that diversity is one of the great strengths of our country?
The next time you hear a charge of liberal bias, consider the subject matter of the charge and then stop and think about the liberal values listed above. If the subject matter aligns with the values of liberalism and aligns with your own values, then consider the intended goal of the person claiming liberal bias. Is it to support a narrow world-view that would limit freedom? Is it to limit equality and diversity because of adherence to rigid ideology? Does it offer to protect liberty and extend compassion to those who are less fortunate?
The next time you hear a charge of liberal bias, question the values of the person making the charge. Ask them to defend their position. See if their defense aligns with your own values.
Daily Kos – Re-Improved Colbert transcript
The Huffington Post – Liberal Values by Geoffrey R. Stone
photo by winnifredxoxo via Flickr