Drinking Soda and Why I’m a Liberal

New York City tried to restrict the the sizes of sodas and sugary drinks you can buy. The courts knocked it down. You can read about it here.

Just by looking at this superficially, you’d think this is an obvious partisan issue.  Ideologically, this is a no-brainer.  Liberals want to restrict what you can do, control you by using government. Conservatives believe that you should have the freedom to do whatever you want.  This is a very rushed and hurried way of thinking. I’ve come to think of Liberalism as “Collective Responsibility  and Conservatism as “Personal Responsibility.”  I think I can use this Soda-Ban as a way to explain why I’m more liberal than I am conservative.

Conservatives are against a ban on soda size because of Freedom. If you want, you should be able to drink as much soda as you want and the government shouldn’t ever stop you. Liberals believe that you should have Freedom as long as it doesn’t hurt you.  What’s interesting is that Conservatives understand that soda is bad for you. They understand that soda causes tons and tons of health complications.  Seriously. An educated Conservative probably doesn’t drink soda.  That’s the thing. It’s Personal Responsibility.  Part of Conservatism is that you should have Freedom to make any decision AND YOU SHOULD BE REWARDED FOR YOUR DECISIONS.

(Before we get too deep in the weeds, I want to address the fact that I have horrible eating habits and that I’m the last person that should be able to preach to anyone about their dietary choices. This post isn’t really about that.  Still, if you want to use this time to shout at the computer how I’m a hypocrite and how this post is baseless because I eat pizza more than I eat broccoli and blah, blah, blah, go ahead.)

Conservative ideology believes that, if you have the freedom to drink a lot of soda, but you decided not to drink a lot of soda, you should be rewarded for that decision by being healthy.  If you decide to drink soda, and you get sick and die, you are dumb and you should be punished for that decision.

I believe this too. Sort of.

I take Personal Responsibility very seriously. I’m a teacher. All I do is promote and ask for personal responsibility.  However, I’m a Liberal because I fully understand that some people just don’t have the wisdom to make proper choices and sometimes you have to help them.

A good example are the new calorie counts in menus and restaurants.  This is from Obamacare.  Soon, all over the country, you’ll be able to look at any menu and see the calorie count.  Conservatives hate this idea because it ruins the decision making process.  The government is helping someone make a decision, thus cheating.  I agree, somewhat.  People should be smarter about what they put in their mouths.  But, as a Liberal, it’s my understanding that, sometimes, you have to help people get smarter. Thus, the calorie counts on menus. Conservatives think it’s government over-reach.  It’s more like promoting and mandating education in all it’s forms.

That’s why I believe in the Liberal arts. That’s why I believe in education and communication. That’s why I believe that there is a good role that government can play.

Being against the “Nanny State” is fine, in principle.  It’s also unrealistic.  The decisions a person makes directly affects me.  If people constantly drink soda, constantly get sick, constantly use up medical care and constantly put a drag on the system, I have to pay for that in a number of ways.  Sure, I would love it if people made smarter decisions and I wish we fully lived in a world where we could foster that. But, let’s be real. There are lots of dumb people out there.  Helping people live better lives is a nice thing to do. That’s why I’m a Liberal.