Friday, August 04, 2006

Practical Liberalism

I talked a little bit the other day about the fatalism of a recent Billmon post and think I need to clarify where exactly I stand on being a liberal, progressive, Democrat , etc..

First of all, let's clarify my fundamental and quite unshakable belief. I believe the only way to govern a truly free society must be based on liberal policies. There is a lot of baggage in that phrase but there are, I believe, some underlying principles that are prerequisite to a healthy, progressive, secure and happy society. All these principles spring from the simple axiom of the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is a litany of things implied in this such as equal access to healthcare, equal opportunity for education and employment, reasonable distribution of wealth and all of those things in the Bill of Rights that the majority of our current leadership find so easy to ignore. That's all I'm looking for...fairness and equality for everyone. You will never level the field completely but you can bring everyone closer to the middle. A few are going to lose some advantage but many more will gain. Everthing will be closer to balancing.

Now let's talk politics. There has been a lot of talk about how the Democrats have to move toward the center if they are going to win elections. Recently, the potential upset of Joe Lieberman in his bid for relection by Ned Lamont is being decried has a "jihad" by the radical left against the mainstream of the Democratic party. The DLC and the other party stalwarts are screaming that if the radical netroots and wacky liberals get a foothold in the party we will scare off middle America and never win another election. This is total bullshit. The GOP and the corporate shills that are currently running the Democratic party have tricked the American people into believing that liberalism and progressive government are dirty words and it is just not reality.

America is a fundamentaly liberal nation. Most Americans don't want their neighbors living in abject poverty. They don't want their friends and family suffering or dying for lack of adequate medical care. They don't want millions of children to suffer the fate of a poor education. They don't want their taxes going to killing people in other countries. They want good schools, healthcare, security, and a clean world to live in. The majority of America was aghast and embarrassed by the images we saw from New Orleans. Americans don't want to live in that country. Just ask them.

The reality is that they have been convinced by the media and many of their pastors and parents that liberalism equals communism and that consumerism is God's way and that wealth should be the goal of life. The have been taught "me first" and "us first" all their lives. They have been indoctrinated into believing that liberals believe people should be paid for not working and that unwed mothers should be rewarded for each bastard. They have been lied to about science, global warming, conservation, other races and religions. They have been told that America is the greatest nation on earth and that too is a lie. Just measure us against the rest of the first world on the percent of our people behind bars, infant mortality, access to healthcare and people living in poverty and the lie is bright. If they would just stop and ask themselves why the rest of the world hates us the light might begin to dawn. We liberals have a big job to do in convincing all these people that have been spoon fed lies from all directions their whole lives that most everything they know is false. A very big job.

So why am I a Democrat? In the current political environment it is entirely a pragmatic decision. The leadership we need to evolve our country into a truly enlightened and liberal society is not fully avaliable. There are too many elected representatives still beholden to corporate and wealthy interests on both the GOP and Dem side and this is not going to change until we have some meaningful reform. On balance, however, the Dems are prepared to move the country more in the direction that we liberals and progressives are looking for. I am not so deluded to imagine that the incumbents we now have, even with some new blood and with the GOP still a major force, are going to meet our expectations and deliver us the government this country needs. Not only that but there is a huge inertia of "liberal is bad" in the media and the nation, wrongheaded though it is, that will have to be slowly turned and nullified.

So, to borrow from Rummy, you go with the government you have(and can get)recognizing that you will have to compromise and yes even prostitute your ideals along the way in order to achieve the long term goals. This is the way it is. If we keep our eye on our ideals and push in that direction every chance we get, then sooner or later we will get there. The first step in the near term and down the road in 2008 is to win back at least partial control of the Congress with the priority goal of getting U.S. out of Iraq and our men and women home. The hell hole that is sucking our cash and the lives of our military and Iraqis has got to go away. If in order to achieve that goal we have to vote for someone who is anti-abortion, then so be it and we'll deal with that issue soon enough. There are going to be some tough choices and I, for one, am going to hate to cast my vote for someone who is diametrically opposed to some of my deeply held beliefs but I am in the game for the long term and not for short term rewards. I am going to support candidates that on the whole will advance my liberal agenda even if they don't measure up in all ways and that will mean "sucking it up" at times and just doing it.

It's going to be an uphill battle and a long one but I am ready for it. I am not going to give up on America.

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