In politics, the word liberal has various meanings and is used to tag various groups, some of whose beliefs are nearly opposite each other (for instance some “liberals” in terms of economic policy happen to be very “conservative” in terms of civil rights issues).

I won’t get into the various definitions of the term. For the purposes of this article, by liberal I refer on issue related to civil liberties such as divorce, same-sex marriage, decriminalizing drugs, euthanasia and prostitution – and why I support each one of them.

Yes, one of the reasons is that I’m a “liberal”, in that I believe that people should have every right to choose how they live, unless it involved harming others. That is a fundamental principle, but I go beyond that.

The other reason is that I believe that human suffering should be reduced as much as possible. I believe that by being conservative or illiberal the law is creating unnecessary hardships on people whose actions are either completely harmless or at most, only harmful to themselves.

Decriminalizing drug use: Some people are able to use drugs (especially the soft ones) only for recreational purposes. They may or may not be harming themselves (this mostly depends on the kind of drug, the quantity used and how frequently it is used). These people are also breaking the law, they are criminals. Why? Why should a person be arrested, prosecuted and possibly imprisoned when he didn’t harm anyone else other than himself? Isn’t this an unnecessary cruelty?

Some, unfortunately become drug addicts. A few of these finance their addiction through a regular legal job or just happen to be rich. Others, especially (but not exclusively) women finance their addiction through prostitution which though not illegal in itself is still very likely to send you on the wrong side of the law (read below). Others resort to the crime of theft or drug dealing. Except for the latter, who are drug addicts harming? Why should these people be punished further for their own illness (I strongly believe drug addiction is an illness, I plan to dwell on this in another post) Do you imagine a cigarette smoker prosecuted for smoking and being addicted to tobacco? Why should a heroin addict (unless he commits crimes with victims) be treated any differently? Once again – unnecessary hardship, cruelty.

Prostitution: The simple act of having sex for money is not illegal. They couldn’t make that illegal, such a law would be completely unenforceable. However anything else from loitering to organized prostitution is. In other words a prostitute can – and does – get arrested from lingering in a dark alley with not many clothes on and cannot regularize her job. Which, I should believe should be a job like any other. She couldn’t have the legal protection entitled to other workers resulting in being many times the victim of abuse from either her employers and her clients.

Why? Just because someone decided it’s not immoral to sell shoes or pastizzi but lending your body is. And since they couldn’t make that illegal they made practically everything else that surrounds it. To make it hard, deliberately inducing unnecessary hardship and cruelty.

Same sex marriage: Once again who are the victims of married homosexuals? (That it can affect a happy heterosexual marriage is absurdly beyond imagination). Why is society giving a message to these people that they should be treated as second class citizens and that they should be satisfied with some half baked “civil union” law that gives them some rights but not as much as heterosexual couples? Why the unnecessary cruelty?

Euthanasia and suicide: Working in a home for the elderly I’v seen people in unbelievable pain that no amount of morphine can control or extremely sad situations such as losing all your loved ones, your privacy, your eyesight and both legs who still want to live. People who for various reasons – religion being the most common – believe that still, life is there to be lived until natural death. This is what they wish and this is what they’ll do. So far so fine.

However I’ve also seen people who think different. People who want to die. Including a person who literally pleaded with me to give him something that can make it all end. Yet, in our society, because people with a superior morality decided that “life utill natural death” should not only be a value but also a law, any kind of euthanasia and assisted suicide is strictly prohibited. You have to suffer until the end because we said so. Unnecessary hardship, cruelty. Why?

Is it too “liberal” to believe in a society where reducing unnecessary human suffering is also a fundamental value? Where people are only punished if they harm others, and not get whipped further because they have harmed themselves, or offended the strict moral code of some holier than though?

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The first time I voted, I cast my No1 to a random PN candidate and my No2 to AD.

I didn’t like the PN much but considered them as a lesser evil. Then I realized that I should give my No 1 to support the part and principles I believed in because at the end of the day, the world will not end if either the PN and PL is in government and my no 1 vote gives a very strong message – a message against blind tribalism. After my first election I am proud to have given my number 1 vote to AD each and every election with no regrets.

By the time, my interest in politics grew, and the more I came to know about Alternattiva Demokratika, the more I liked them. To the extent of eventually joining the party, and will be contesting Local Elections on Mosta next March.

If one had to ask me what I find different in AD, I will point mainly towards two things, which I will call Freedom and Direction.

Freedom

No one in AD has his hands tied. It doesn’t accept donations from people/companies it may have a conflict of interest with and no one in the party has any personal interest that may jeopardise his position in politics, be it with a construction magnate, a contractor or a North African tyrant.

In other words we are free. We say what we believe is right because no one is pulling our strings.

Direction

In modern Europe, one hears about political ideology much less than before. In a way this is good. Fewer people are fossilized into ideologies of both left and right and many try to avoid any of the two extremes. This is partly due to the atrocities committed by both sides in our not-so-distant history.

However, in many European countries ideology has died completely, to the extent that democracy is not undermined by tyrants who oppose free and fair elections but by the fact voting for a party or another doesn’t actually make any difference.

This can’t be more true than in Malta where I describe both parties’ ideology as a “mad rush to where they think the votes are

They use the term “rainbow party” as if it is some kind of compliment! In MEP elections, you could have voted for hunters advocate Perici Calascione or environmentalist Alan Deidun, both contesting on the same party ticket (PN). On the other hand, in the same PL opposition, you have ultra-conservative Adrian Vassallo but can still vote for a liberal like Evarist Bartolo. So on and so forth.

I don’t consider that as a rainbow but a complete mess.

Needless to say, we in AD do not always agree on everything. That would be against human nature. We do have our squabbles. However these are usually sorted out in a short time and without any resentment, not only because we mean well but also because unlike in the examples mentioned above, we don’t have people who are diametrically opposed to each other.

In short I think of Green ideology as left of center, liberal and one that puts a lot of weight on ecological issues. That said, this is not (and should not be) shrouded in dogma and a refusal to make a compromise, but a clear direction.

We do not promise a quick-fix for Malta’s problems like populist parties. Anyone who proposes that is either lying or hallucinating.

However, we do offer something different. A change that while I’m sure there are people who honestly mean it in both PN and PL, for the reasons mentioned above, can never deliver it.