A guide to liberalism

Gigi Wade, Opinion Editor

Pop the bubble.

Evanston is notorious for its exceptionally progressive climate, but it’s time that we reexamine this characterization.

In recent years, I’ve heard our political climate incessantly described as “the liberal bubble”. This makes sense — an overwhelming majority of Evanstonians expressed outrage after Trump’s election and a lot of our education is taught through the lens of liberal views. Furthermore, our classification as a sanctuary city disproportionately attracts people from the left, which, to be clear, isn’t a trend that I’m criticizing.

However, I am criticizing the illustration of Evanston as a liberal bubble, especially when the title is used as a testament to the morality and goodness that flows through our borders. This rhetoric encourages a dangerous sort of complacency to the forms of racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. that exist in our community. When we call ourselves unconditionally a bubble we ignore important stipulations in our actions that don’t fall under the typical definition of what it means to be a leftist.

In short, many of us are not as progressive as we think we are and that’s ok, but we ought to be aware of what makes a person liberal before using it as a blanket term for all Evanstonians. So let’s set some guidelines that will hopefully help you understand where you fall politically.

To begin, you are not a liberal if you take advantage of conservative safe spaces. If you let your desire to fit in cloud your perception of right and wrong, you’re endorsing the behavior that you claim to oppose. This can be a subtle phenomenon, not everyone outwardly recognizes their moral failure and accepts it. For example, attending a party hosted by someone accused of sexual assault, an outspoken racist, or anyone who exhibits bigotry on a regular basis makes you complacent. Likewise, if you attended Country Thunder, yet you consider yourself against the Confederacy and white supremacy, you are both funding bigotry and you are complacent. Complacency does not equal liberalism.

Further, you are not a liberal if you fail to advocate for what you believe in just because it is not convenient for you. This argument is absolutely true for any political group; you have to be willing to defend your viewpoints in any setting in order to call yourself a member of that group, but in Evanston examples can be drawn more easily from the left. If the only reason that you’re participating in social activism is to post a photo of yourself doing so, you don’t really care about those that you’re pretending to be an ally for.

Lastly and most importantly, liberalism is not about the title, it’s about acting in accordance with morally democratic principles. In fact, fixed labels contribute to extreme political fracturing. According to the American Psychological Association, political civility, diversity and discourse are of increasing value in our uniquely polarized country.

So don’t be afraid to speak out, don’t be afraid to argue, just make sure that you’re arguing for what you believe in, not what’s trendy. Let’s stop calling Evanston a liberal bubble and figure out where we really fall politically.