A Liberal's Education

Dear Senator Santorum,

Until I picked up your bookIt Takes A Family, I had never really recognized what it means to be a liberal. It turns out I've been going about things all wrong. I hadn't realized that I was supposed to be opposed to everything good, right, or true in America.

I also hadn't realized that I'm supposed to be taking my ideological orders from a cabal of “village elders” made up of “the intellectual as well as practical leaders of the liberal movement in America.”

The black helicopters that deliver The New York Times every morning must have skipped my street the day that was announced.

So much is clear to me now that wasn't before you weighed in. Among other things, you have helped me understand some of the strange urges I've been having lately.

Take last week, for instance. When packing my son off to Vacation Bible School each morning, I didn't understand why I suddenly felt compelled to whisper in his ear, “Don't believe anything they tell you. Good and evil are all relative. Just eat the cookies and nod politely.”

Now I know. It's because I'm a liberal and I resent religion's impact on my children's moral development.

As you so lucidly point out, “[Religious organizations] teach right from wrong and selfless service to others. In other words, they are a threat to the rule of the village elders, and so, like the traditional family, they must be either co-opted or eliminated.”

That also explains the anger that wells up inside my liberal heart on Sundays, when the pastor of our church stops me and my wife after the service to ask after the kids, or to see how my wife's new job is working out. I have to stop myself from grabbing him by the vestments and shouting at him to mind his own business.

Thanks to you, I understand that I feel this way because I'm a liberal and I fear the role of religion in creating communities.

As you note, “When the village elders think about community, they tend to think about political clubs, issue-advocacy groups, community activists, homeowner associations -- anything and everything but churches, synagogues, and mosques. It is almost as if religion frightens them: and perhaps it does.”

I had never grasped why it is that when my 4-year-old calmly announces his intention to marry his blond-haired, princess-obsessed playmate, I feel the need to sit him down and urge a period of cohabitation first, and to remind him that he needn't limit himself to the opposite gender when considering life partners.

Of course, now I understand that it's because I'm a liberal and I hate marriage.

No doubt this will come as a shock to my wife of eight years, but when I read in your book that the true aim of liberals is a country where “divorce would not only be the norm rather than the exception, but the institution of marriage would disappear altogether,” it suddenly became clear to me.

Another thing that had been bugging me before I saw your book was the strange sense of dread I sometimes get arriving home at night. Often my wife sees me coming and opens the door. The dog comes running out of the house, wagging his tail, with both my kids close behind. I kneel down to greet them and then, as I stand up, with a boy in each arm, I just want to retch.

Now I know why. It's because I'm a liberal and I hate what my happy family represents.

“The greatest thorn in the liberals' side,” you point out, “is the iconoclastic traditional family.”

I'm still working on how something can be traditional and iconoclastic at the same time, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. The important thing, as you note, is that in my home, where my wife and I try to teach the kids right from wrong, respect for each other, and not to throw baseballs indoors, I am daily betraying my liberal soul.

The problem, you say, is that “The village elders dislike the traditional family because of what it instills in children and society -- traditional values. In the liberals' ideal world there is no right or wrong; there is only tolerance and intolerance, diversity and narrow-mindedness … . Theirs is a world in which ideally nobody, not even mothers and fathers, ever judges anyone's actions.”

I'm sure it's just further proof that I'm a bad liberal, but as I sit here with your book on my desk, I can't … help … myself. I … just … want to … to … judge it.

Senator, your book … is … a steaming … pile … .

Whew. Stopped myself. Maybe I'm not such a bad liberal after all.

Rob Garver is a freelance journalist living in Springfield, Virginia.