After watching the Democratic primary debates, I came away with the sense that the candidates sincerely want to make our country better, but unfortunately they did a poor job explaining how they plan to improve health care and solve the immigration crisis.

The Democrats also made no effort to correct the misperceptions about them, such as that they are too liberal and too socialist. Since these two words suffer much abuse, I suggest people find out what they mean.

My dictionary defines a liberal as:

Someone who believes in the freedom of the individual.

Someone who is favorable to progress or reform.

The first definition stems from the Enlightenment, when Europeans began to question the power of the monarchies and the church. These people believed, as stated in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, that “(all persons) are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

We Americans followed liberal ideas when we established freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom to bear arms, freedom to worship and freedom of the press as unalienable rights. The vast majority of Americans believe in these individual rights. It’s time they understood that to be a liberal is to work hard to preserve them.

As to socialism, I just returned from Toronto, a bustling, modern city with socialized medicine. Socialism has had no ill effect there.

Socialism means designating one area for government management, not all. Health care is the right area to socialize. Making a profit from illness and infirmity is unconscionable.

Democrats need to wear the word liberal proudly. They need to make it clear that they do not want to socialize every part of our lives, just the part that makes sense.

Get it together, Democrats! Erase those misconceptions!

Tom Robison

Bozeman