11 Jul 2010

Living Liberally

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Matt Labash, at the Weekly Standard, has a go at following the definitive guide to living like a liberal, as prescribed in a new book offering no less than 538 ways to incorporate liberal ideology in everyday life.

[M]y lesser living was a lifetime ago. Actually, just a few weeks ago, but it feels like the distant past. It was before my road to Damascus encounter, before the illuminative flame touched my torch of enlightenment. It was B.J.K.—Before Justin Krebs.

Who is Justin Krebs, you ask? Only my sensei. My guru. The man who made plain that I had politics all wrong. I used to think along the lines of the British writer and publisher Ernest Benn that politics was “the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” Thus, I had put my politics in my political box, and my life in my living box. When I should’ve placed all the contents in the same box—a much bigger, biodegradable one. (You can get them at Treecycle.com.)

Krebs showed me that my politics shouldn’t be just my politics, but also my religion, my sun and moon, my inhalation and exhalation. Since politics, particularly liberal politics, bring people so much joy, wouldn’t I be better off politicizing everything—the way I live and work and play? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is a resounding “yes,” as evidenced right there in the title of Krebs’s new book: 538 Ways to Live Work and Play Like a Liberal.

The 32-year-old Krebs didn’t just write this book, which comes complete with a 538-item checklist. He’s lived it. He sharpened his liberal-living iron on the mean conservative streets of Highland Park, New Jersey; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and, finally, that repository of red state madness, the island of Manhattan. …

It’s hard work, politicizing your whole life. And looking at Krebs’s checklist, I still have a lot in front of me: I have to remind my elected officials about the importance of open space, to speak up for progressive taxation, to ask friends to identify every news channel’s bias, to look at how movie posters treat women, to watch Battlestar Galactica, which “got people debating torture and occupation,” and to “reconsider the liberal message of the moon landing.” That’s just for starters. As one of my favorite liberals H.L. Mencken said: “Liberals have many tails, and chase them all.”

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