liberal, who?

An old friend and I recently chatted. He’s been attending graduate school on the East Coast, and over the course of our conversation, we got onto the topic of liberalism. He admitted to picking up some pre-Reed habits again, like attending Sunday Mass, and related a conversation that he’d had with some lab mates about the value of a Catholic education, which, according to most of them, wasn’t much.

He disagreed, having attended a Catholic school himself.

He was also of the opinion that on the East Coast, self-identified “liberals” weren’t as engaged in the political system as he’d expected them to be.

And then he asked: what are the Portland liberals like these days?

I had to reply: I’m not sure.

My crowd used to be punk kids, queer kids, and DIY kids. Hippie kids and scenester kids. Some of us were vocal politically, and we all tried to stay informed. We’d espouse our beliefs, even if they were contrary sometimes. Sometimes we claimed apathy, but it was all a front that’d come crumbling down whenever our lifestyle was challenged.

Were we liberal? I don’t know.

And these days, I pal around with a lot of environmentally-minded folks. We play outdoors a lot, and talk about preserving these great lands, the trees, the mountains, the habitats for animals and fish. We bike most places. We practice sustainability, buy organic, buy local.

But are we liberal? I still don’t know.

Who, and what, is a liberal?

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