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Liberal Fools FAQ, version 1

Q. What is the Board Culture?

Liberal Fools is a place where people who define themselves as
“liberal” meet to discuss liberal issues.

Q. What is the history of the board?

Liberal Fools was founded on the last day of January 2002. The first few posts were made by self-described conservatives. With this ominous start, Liberal Fools limped along as a kind of second rate Political Asylum for less than a year, garnering fewer than 200 posts. By January of the following year no one was posting at Liberal Fools. In April of 2003 our own JavaTraveler revitalized the group. His repeated requests that this remain a place for liberal conversation and not a place for the liberal/conservative debate may be the reason that the board has remained vital and interesting for quite some time.

Q. I'm a Conservative, Libertarian or Imperialist. Am I welcome?

Yes and no. If you're here to see what self-styled Liberals are thinking and you are willing to “play nice,” by all means, pull up a cyber-chair and sit down. Be aware, however, of the sign on the door.

If you are here to push the liberal/conservative debate or simply wish to show Liberals the light of conservative, libertarian or imperialist thought, this is probably not the place for you. There are places at The Motley Fool to carry on the debate. You might prefer the Political Asylum board:

Mish's Political Quagmire:

Or the Current Events board:

Or, as FogChicken reminds us, you might be more interested in a different specialty board:

Libertarian Fools:
Conservative Fools :
Raging Moderates :

Or any of these boards:

Q. I'm not sure I am a Liberal. What is a Liberal anyway?

Like any other ideology, liberalism casts a wide net. Not all Liberals hold the same views.

MDGluon suggested we apply Will Rogers' observation about democrats to Liberals:

I belong to no organized political party. That is why I am a Democrat

President John F. Kennedy described us this way:

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party (US Democratic Party), and its members demonstrates that we are not that kind of “Liberal.”

But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal” then I'm proud to say I'm a “Liberal.”

And then there is the dictionary definition:

liberalism: ...a political philosophy based on a belief in progress, the essential goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual, and standing for tolerance and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres of life, especially by the protection of political and civil liberties, and for government under law with consent of the governed.

Q. So, am I a Liberal?

You might take one of these tests collected by XWordPhile:

Are you a NeoCon?

Are you a threat to the Bush admin?

Check your Political Compass.

Take the World's Smallest Political Quiz.

Who did you stand for in 1994?

Where would you be most comfortable?

And if you are still uncertain after all that, go by this simple rule: If you think you are, you probably are.

Q: What's the difference between “Liberal” and “liberal?”

A Liberal (capital L) is a person with liberal (lowercase L) ideas or opinions.

Q. Yes, yes, but what do Liberals believe? What do you talk about here?

Liberals tend to support the protection of the civil rights guaranteed
to the individual by the American Constitution's Bill of Rights. Liberals tend to:

• Support the checks and balances inherent in modern democratic thought.

• Think of the government as the balance to the business world rather than the protector of the business world, following the traditions of Presidents Theodore (Republican) and Franklin (Democrat) Roosevelt.

• Think of the government as one of the few institutions powerful enough to protect the environment.

Liberals generally support equality and believe that this must sometimes be enforced against powerful forces that benefit from inequality. Most Liberals support a person's right to choose his or her own lifestyle. This usually extends to the right to contraception, abortion, same sex relationships, choice of religion, choice of no religion, and choice of favorite tooth paste.

Of course, the weight placed on these and other issues will vary from person to person. The liberal tent includes socially conscious capitalists as well as dyed in the wool socialists. Liberals include uncompromising, tree hugging, soap avoiding environmentalists and ready to deal, wetland-for-pavement conservationists.

Since Liberals rarely (if ever) walk in lockstep, there is always something to talk about.

Q. Can you point at a few examples of good posts? **

Yes. But there is a danger in picking and choosing. Some great posts and wonderful posters are sure to be missed. The following 10 posts are among the most recommended on the board. That does not make them the best, but they do provide an interesting cross section of the Liberal Fools board: - bigcaat - czarinav - overspent - AngelMay - LtUhura - MasonMcDan - pixiecakes - StringCheeseMark - Frolix8 - redsavina

Q. Why do Liberals hate America?

Liberals love America. We want to see it live up to its promise of tolerance, justice and individual freedom.

Q. I just asked that last question on the board and someone called me a troll. Is that a good thing?

No. A troll is a person who is fishing (i.e., trolling) for an argument by saying something deliberately insulting or outrageous. If you find yourself being called a troll be prepared to be p-boxed. Since The Motley Fool provides only one way to handle unwelcome posts or posters, regulars on the board are encouraged to ignore or p-box trolls.

If you really want an answer, consider inviting people here to join in a debate on the Political Asylum board. You will probably get more than one taker.

Q. What are the roots of liberalism?

Liberalism as a philosophy goes back hundreds of years. Modern western Liberals and Conservatives share the same roots in the European enlightenment. Philosophers and politicians like:

John Locke:


And Hume:

are just three people credited with inspiring the modern liberal democratic society. Thomas Jefferson wrote of all three men in his voluminous correspondence. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison directly quoted both Montesquieu and Hume in the world famous “Federalist Papers.”

Liberals branch away from conservatives in the writings of such men as:

John Stuart Mill, whom Liberals share with Libertarians:

And the recently departed John Rawls:

whose books “Political Liberalism” and “A Theory of Justice” are among the pillars of modern liberal thought.

Looming large on the far left of modern liberalism are:

Karl Marx:

and Friedrich Engels:

who, together, wrote the definitive works on communism, “Das Kapital” and “The Communist Manifesto.”

Q. Are all you lefties socialists and communists?

No, but political liberalism does include everything from modified socialism (as in western types of social security) to Utopian communism. In the same way, political conservatives would include everything from modified capitalism (as in western types of unemployment insurance) to extreme fascism. Or in the way that libertarianism would include modified authoritarianism (as in restrained western type police forces) to Utopian anarchism.

No ideal, not even liberalism, is free from its extremists or its detractors.

Q. I want to know more. Where do I find some good liberal media?

If you are looking for the polar opposite to Rush Limbaugh and Fox Television you might try Air America:—common/pdx/streaming.php

For newspapers and magazines (both liberal and not so liberal) :

Liberal Opinion — a collection of liberal editorials from columnist across the country*
The New Republic — stingy with their free stuff. But their blogs are good.*
The Economist — if you want a truly global perspective on the news*
The Nation — unconventional wisdom since 1865*
Mother Jones — One of the original magazines of the left*.

Of course, we can not forget the world wide web: — sharp analysis and good writers.* — The New Republic—stingy with their free stuff. But their blogs are good.* — The American Prospect, recently improved design and content.* — The Gadflyer, frequently updated and refreshingly irreverent*. — Quite intelligent discussions about campaign issues.* — The Columbia Journalism Review's daily take on the campaign.* — just for the fun of it, gossipy inside-the-beltway musings.* — The Nation, unconventional wisdom since 1865* — Paul Krugman's unofficial archive. He's socially liberal (who isn't?) and economically middle—ground. His writing is less ideological than “The Economist” anyway.* — The Left Business Observer. Some free stuff, mostly subscription though.** — Reporting on political ads both on the left and the right. — One stop shopping for all things liberal — liberal think tank, and database.

And, of course there are many non-liberal sites that are of great interest to Liberals: — Contrary to the myth makers, not all Liberals belong to the ACLU and not all conservatives oppose the ACLU. — Not only does it publish things like the outline for the national budget, it links you to every department in the executive branch of Government. — Want to see what's going on in the legislative branch? — How about the Judicial Branch? — Is someone writing all of this down? Yup. — Amnesty International's website. Don't just get mad, do something! — Watch our legislators in...uh...action(?)

*Descriptions and links taken directly from a thread started by seayb47:

The major contributor being DanishInvestor, with several contributions by meddler and just a little help by LtUhura.

**Thank you bigcaat for suggesting this question.

This FAQ was written by l1soul and edited by LtUhura.
Many thanks to all LF'ers who made suggestions and contributions to this FAQ.
Special thanks to JavaTravaler for revitalizing this board and to 0x6a74 for inspiring this document.
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