Livin’ like a Liberal

Weekly Standard writer Matt Labash takes to heart the dictum that to understand a man you must first walk a mile in his Birkenstocks–converting to liberalism and putting into practice the good advices of one Justin Krebs, as detailed in his book 538 Ways to Live Work and Play Like a Liberal. 

 Labash starts out a normal conservative of the mainstream variety:

I wasn’t some nutcake conservative. I didn’t follow along with Glenn Beck at home, flowcharting the lineage of Lenin to Van Jones on my kids’ Fisher-Price chalkboard. I didn’t attend Rand Paul rallies in a tricorn and a frilly blouse like some kind of colonial crossdresser. I was just a vanilla, middle-of-the-road conservative. As long as I remained undertaxed, overdefended, and unaborted, I was pretty content. Live and let live, I thought. I might have even made a good Libertarian, except I hate science fiction, think Ayn Rand was a crank with an unfortunate haircut, and would fail the house drug test (when my results came back negative).

but then dutifully tries to apply to Krebs’s advices to the letter, in order to eat, shop, work,  read, parent, and do everything else as one with an authentic left-leaning conscience ought. Enthusiasts of the concept have fanned out nationwide into hundreds of regional chapter groups dedicated to “Living Liberally,” so Labash isn’t simply cherry-picking for absurdities. If anything he seems to have stumbled on a burgeoning movement.

If you like well-turned, occasionally scornful (but, as we see when he tries to Drink Liberally, ultimately good-natured) political satire, tuck in to the whole (longish) piece. The larger point, I think, is to accuse liberals of tending towards “politicizing” every aspect of their lives; and though that might be true, I think it would be hard to defend conservatives against that same charge. I dunno, maybe there’s a nuance to it that I’m missing. Still, it’s funny stuff. Here’s a taste from Labash’s attempt to “Eat Liberally”:

 At first, I am intimidated, as any rookie would be standing in front of the vast selection of sea salts at Whole Foods. But as I fill my cart, I quickly get my sea-salt legs beneath me by realizing the principle upon which liberal grocery-shopping turns. Liberals don’t just need their food to come comestible or tasty or biodynamic or free-range or locally grown. They—rather, we—need it to come with a philosophy and a parable. We need our food to tell a story. Why else would I pay 17 bucks for 32 ounces of McLure’s Pure Dark Amber Maple Syrup? Easy. Because it makes me feel better about my purchase to hear the story of how five generations of Granite State McLures have been overcharging for syrup that doesn’t taste as good as Aunt Jemima’s. In other words, our food should have the same affectations as the people eating it.

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Todd M. Aglialoro is the acquisitions editor for Catholic Answers.

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