Democrats & Liberals Archives

Stand Up For Liberalism

To say it plainly, Democrats need to stop cooperating in the destruction of liberalism. The excesses of Conservatism are plain to see, people in America are getting sick of it, and yet, we’re still willing to play like we’re GOP-lite.

I know a number of well-meaning and well-intentioned Conservatives and independents have told me and others that what we need to do is accept the legitimacy of right-wing dominance. I don’t blame them. They want to believe their side is right. Maybe we should leave aside their advice, and imitate their faith in their politics.

It is not wrong to be a liberal, if by liberal you mean somebody who sets the rules of the game to improve society, rather than trying to impose control on a personal level. It is not wrong to believe that people's private lives should be preserved against unwarranted intrusions. It is not wrong to believe that when the government sides with somebody, they should side fairly, not add their power to that of the powerful each and every time.

It is not wrong to believe that it should be the market economy serving our interests, not us serving what some elite deems to be the market's interests. We should not have to forgo transparency in corporate finance, truth in corporate accounting, and the ability to lead long, happy, and healthy lives, just so some executive who's going to pay himself more money anyways doesn't see a bite out of his bottom line. Even in purely economic terms, these practices are not without cost to the public.

But beyond that, it does us little good to sell ourselves out to protect those who will not deal honestly with us, who will hurt and harm our lives, our environment, and even the economy whose interests they claim to protect for their own gain. Republicans decry today's culture of cheating and dishonesty, but if they look at their record, they should not be astonished to find out how much they've enabled that culture.

What particular example are the folks in power making of themselves when they oppose legislation whose sole purpose is to insure greater honesty, saying the needs of the economy come first? They are telling our children that there is not profit in honesty, no profit in standing up for principles and reforming the wrongs of government or society. There's a message of fear, that if you stand in the way of the profit of the economic elites, you yourself will only be cutting yourself out of work, out of your freedoms, out of the peace and security of your community.

Bush is merely the apotheosis of this attitude. It's okay to invade the wrong country at the wrong time in history , and let our enemies multiply, so long as we get rid of one notorious tyrant and create Democracy. Well jeez, I'm all for removing tyrants and creating democracies, but we can always do that in some other country first, where there really is a terrorist threat to respond to. Hell, we can finish our work in Afghanistan, and not leave our number one enemy sitting pretty, free to plot and plan further murders of Americans and our allies.

We're not wrong in opposing tax cuts that come at the worst possible time, tax cuts that no Republican president has ever had the stupidity to make during a time of war. Again the threat is held over our head, that if we do the smart thing and start paying as we go, that it will harm the economy. You know, nobody's proven that tax cuts are really all that helpful, once you get to our current moderate rates. Indeed, there is much more evidence that public debt does much to drag down the economy, evidence this admininstration won't even consider from their own appointees.

The Republicans have brought under a kind of tyranny, one that says it doesn't matter what experts tell us, it just matters what we tell you. The President can tell us that he was just being told what everybody knew to be the fact even as vigorous debates in the intelligence agencies were swept under the rug by his own political appointees. The Secretary of Defense can be unable to respond to a national guardsmen about why his unit is digging in the trash for armor, but the worse crime they say, is that a Reporter went out of his way to arrange a confrontation with Rumsfeld on this question. No longer are people defending Tom DeLay and folks like him on the grounds that they are innocent, no, their desperate spin is that they aren't any guiltier than the Democrats of corruption and abuse of power. You Republicans should be cringing at that thought.

The Republicans are doing everything in their power to outlast the messes they are responsible for. In ten years, they've proven no more capable of avoiding overspending and shrinking government than we Democrats. In fact, they've proven even less disciplined at it than we are. They've proven that their reputation as being better at national defense than us has been vastly overinflated. They let American jobs go overseas in the name of free trade to countries that aren't practicing it at all, they've let our education system be shackled to an inffective testing regime but not even with the funds to support even such a God-forsaken plan.

And unfortunately, we have let them, again and again. Polls are out telling us that the disgust with the Republican party is reaching epic proportions. But rightly so, they are not showing us rating much better. We're seen voting right along side those folks we're excoriating. We're seen supporting Bush's foreign policy. What we're not seen doing is telling people in our own words, not the conservative jargon, about what we really stand for in common as a party. The Republicans have demonized us for so long, we've forgotten how to love our own politics. We've accepted their view that we are the Republican's poor substitute on so many issues. We've let liberal become a curse word, instead of a proud description of who we really are.

Worse, we've let the Republicans decide our language for us, which has got us using their damned doublespeak. Frame the language, and you frame the debate. We need our own vocabulary for own beliefs. We do not need to be using Conservative words to remind the world of what lousy conservatives we are. We need our language to reflect our committments, not theirs.

We need to be proud about our opposition, not ashamed of it. If they want to accuse us of playing politics, and trying to take down their office holders, let's be honest: that is what we're trying to do! We're competing, and to successfully compete for a job, somebody has to lose out, and when there's only one other party prominent in national politics, guess what? It will be they who we go after! The Republicans are not entitled to their jobs in the House, Senate, and White House, they're elected to them, and we have the right to go right after their jobs. They're going after ours, so I see nothing unfair about playing that game to the best of our ability. I see nothing reprehensible about asserting our place in American politics.

With all the foul-ups this administration has managed over the last four years, their recent slim victory should not discourage us from speaking for the vast majority of Americans who have a problem with the way this administration has run the country. There is more at stake than ever in having a good, honest, competent government in place in our nation's capital. Now is not the time, with the consequences of this administration's incompetence to lead, for us to tuck tail and run. Now is the time to make our bid for the respect and mandate of the American people. To paraphrase Emerson, we must speak in hard words what we believe now, and not back down from it because somebody has ruled our sentiments indelicate towards their vaunted leaders. If we are to be leaders in this Republic, we cannot be cowards about confronting our rivals.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at April 14, 2005 7:14 AM