Posted on March 16, 2004


John F. & The "L" Word

50 ways to learn you're a liberal


Daniel Clark



Based on his voting record, the National Journal rated Sen. John Kerry as the most liberal member of the Senate. Kerry calls this a "laughable characterization," adding that "labels are so silly in American politics."

You might remember that Kerry's old boss, Michael Dukakis, reacted to the word "liberal" the same way when he ran for president in 1988, only to later contradict himself by publicly embracing that term. "Lo and behold, he used the 'L-word'," rejoiced his opponent, Vice President George H.W. Bush, who himself had been accurately characterizing the Massachusetts governor that way since the start of the campaign.

Labeling Dukakis a "liberal" was not silly at all, because that's just what he was. Labels are only silly if they're misapplied. Labeling a can of racquetballs as "mushrooms" may be silly, but placing that same label on a can of mushrooms is a valuable service to the customer. Likewise, disguising a liberal candidate as a "moderate," a "centrist" or a "progressive" is silly, while calling him a "liberal" only helps the voters make an informed, responsible decision.

The National Journal was not making things up. There's no question that Kerry is a liberal. It is best both for him and for the voters that he realize it now. In fact, self-realization is important for repressed liberals everywhere, especially during a presidential election year. As the saying goes, the first step toward solving a problem is recognizing that you have one.

Admittedly, the idea being put forth here is not an original one. In 1994, USA Weekend published a quiz that would tell its readers where they stood politically, and numerous spin-offs have since been done. Apparently, the right questions have not yet been asked, because liberals like Kerry persist in their denials. Hence the necessity of this list of questions requiring simple yes or no answers, in the latest attempt to help any mislabeled "moderates" get in touch with their inner libs.


1. Are you generally pleased with the outcome of the Cold War?

2. Do news stories announcing federal court decisions usually make you mad?

3. When you vote, do you understand which chad, lever or check box corresponds with your chosen candidate?

4. Is it wrong for a man to steal in order to feed his family, if he hasn't first tried to feed his family by getting a job?

5. Were James Madison and Alexander Hamilton any wiser than Earl Warren and Harry Blackmun?

6. When you accuse somebody of lying, can you point out what that person said that wasn't true, and explain why he could not have believed that it was?

7. Do you understand the meaning of "is"?

8. Is the pizza delivery man more deserving of your money than somebody who just approaches you on the street and asks for it?

9. When you woke up and heard that Saddam Hussein had been captured, were you considerably happier than Mike Farrell must have been?

10. Are you capable of deciding for yourself how many french fries to eat?

11. Do you think a human fetus -- even a badly deformed one -- is more valuable than an endangered kangaroo rat?

12. Are drug dealers "real criminals"?

13. Is Colin Powell more black than Bill Clinton?

14. Do the people you insist are funny actually make you laugh?

15. Is it insulting to women to call feminist organizations "women's groups"?

16. When someone dismisses an opposing viewpoint as an "old argument," doesn't that just mean that he still hasn't come up with an answer to it?

17. Are there some cultures which are superior to others?

18. Is "turkey chili" a contradiction in terms?

19. Do you think the Meathead and Gloria say at least twice as many stupid things as Archie does?

20. Is a man still a man after undergoing "the operation"?

21. Do you suspect that the designated hitter was imposed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals?

22. If your tax rate is reduced by ten percent, but so is Michael Eisner's, are you any better off?

23. Did you manage to get through last August without feeling guilty about your lawnmower, air conditioner or SUV killing elderly French people?

24. Is the taxpayers' money more responsibly spent on strategic missile defense than on the National Endowment for the Arts?

25. Are most millionaires self-made?

26. Was the world safer when the United States was its only atomic power?

27. Can someone display the Confederate battle flag without being a racist?

28. Do you instinctively distrust any politician who identifies himself as a "populist"?

29. Is Ted Turner every bit as offensive and loony as Marge Schott was?

30. Can you make it all the way to your local polling station without being taken by bus?

31. Have you been hoping that Fidel Castro believes we really did kidnap Jean-Bertrand Aristide?

32. Are you more easily offended by public use of the F-word than by cigarette smoke?

33. In the absence of any evidence of discrimination, are you indifferent to the fact that there are only five black head coaches in Division I-A college football, and would you care just as little if there were fifty?

34. Is it appropriate that our national anthem makes references to war?

35. Do you already miss Howard Dean?

36. Have you gone your whole life without ever using the words "profiteering" or "jingoism" with a straight face?

37. Do you cringe when you hear members of your own political party accuse their opponents of using "hate speech"?

38. Have you recently begun facetiously replacing the word "illegal" with "undocumented" in all contexts?

39. When the "international community" disapproves of U.S. actions, does that mean we're doing something right?

40. Did you realize that Dan Quayle was right before the Atlantic Monthly told you so?

41. Is it an improvement to now have a first lady instead of a "co-president"?

42. Are gun buy-back programs so illogical that they might have been invented by Rosie O'Donnell herself?

43. Is all of George Carlin's good material at least a quarter-century old?

44. When you see a "Visualize Peace" bumper sticker, does it call to mind the news footage of Saddam Hussein's delousing?

45. Should touchdown dances be punishable by Singapore-style canings?

46. Is it more unethical to kill a cloned human embryo for its stem cells than to implant it with the intention of its being born?

47. Do you think the film Bonnie and Clyde has a happy ending?

48. Did you root for American technological marvel Deep Blue against whiny Russian Gary Kasparov?

49. When someone asks whether a tree makes a sound if it falls when nobody's around to hear it, is your answer, "Of course. It's a tree, thickhead"?

50. Are you thinking of becoming obese, just out of spite?


If you answered "no" to between 11 and 32 of the questions above, you are a liberal.

If you answered "no" to between 33 and 50 of them, and you refuse to acknowledge yourself as a liberal, you are a liar. Coincidentally or not, you are also a liberal.

Note that affirmative answers to half of the questions would place you in the liberal category. This means that Senator Kerry is a liberal, even if he manages to answer both "yes" and "no" to every question.

If you answered "no" to between 3 and 10 of these questions, you are not necessarily a liberal, but you have been in college entirely too long.

I hope this clears a few things up. Glad to have been of service.



Return to Shinbone

 The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press 

 Mailbag . Issue Index . Politimals