12 November 2010

Damn right, I am a liberal

I think it's high time, as Lawrence O'Donnell has said over and over again (most notably in his West Wing script here) ... to reject the Rightist framing and propaganda they're so good at, and once again embrace the word liberal. Look at the scene linked to above (start at 10:42). With full credit to Mr. O'Donnell, Democrats need to say this over and over again every chance they get:

I am a liberal. And proud of it. 
Liberals ended slavery in this country. (Yes, a Republican president, but a Liberal Republican, a species now extinct). Liberals brought us food and product safety. Liberals broke up the monopolies and gave us the political reforms like initiative and referendum. Liberals gave women the right to vote. Liberals saved us from the stupid conservative policies that caused the Great Depression. Liberal economic policies... including under smart, essentially liberal Republican presidents like Dwight Eisenhower... gave us the long postwar period of prosperity, when just about anyone could get a decent job that paid well, and could own their own home and save for a secure retirement, without having to go deep into debt or work two jobs. That Great Prosperity, the direct result of liberal policies, now seems like a fading memory; or for our younger citizens, ancient history barely believed. 
Liberals ended segregation. Liberals gave us Social Security. Liberals gave us the Civil Rights Act. And the Voting Rights Act. And Medicare. Liberals gave us the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Liberals gave us the finest public libraries, public schools, and public universities in the world, now, sadly, under threat.

And the Right in this country, now embodied as the Republican party, voted against, indeed fought tooth and nail against, every single one of these progressive changes that have made this a better country to live in. And unlike the Right, which will use any untruth, any smear, any underhanded tactic, Liberals have stood up, and continue to stand up, for what they honestly and forthrightly believe is best for America.

Damn right I'm a liberal. And I would be ashamed if I weren't. When the Right tries to use the word liberal as some kind of insult, I say, that's a shame, because liberals are the real patriots. The people who've said, yes, we can make things better, yes, we as a nation can be great, and can share our greatness with all of our people, rather than saying no, we're keeping what we have and everyone else can go to hell, which is the essential message of the Right. Yes, I'm a liberal, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
If only we have the courage to be liberal in these times of economic difficulties and grave challenges to our country, we can and will transcend them. We will rebuild our economy, and restore it to productivity that creates real wealth and good jobs for tens of millions of Americans, while solving the environmental problems of modern life. We will make our tax system fair once again, so that the very rich pay their fair share like everyone else. We will regulate Wall Street so that big banks and traders don't siphon off the wealth of this country without producing anything in return. We will ensure the retirement security of our elders, education for everyone, affordable health care for everyone, and a robust economic safety net for those who become temporarily unemployed, and we will defend these programs from threats to defund and destroy them that come from the Republicans on a daily basis.
We will preserve constitutional rights and freedoms of the people, ensure free and fair access the information technologies of the present and future, and foster and develop American industry, not just big business for its own sake. We will end the corruption of money in politics that makes it possible for the very wealthy and big business to buy the government they want. We will end unfair laws that make it too easy for most of the nation's wealth to be concentrated in the hands of tiny, tiny minority. We will make America's research and development, railways and roadways, electrical grid and energy infrastructure, and educational institutions once again the best the world has ever seen, and continue to make them better and better going forward, for the benefit of all our people. We will ensure the security of our country, but not at the cost of a corrupt and damaging military-industrial complex such as Eisenhower warned us against 50 years ago, and not at the cost of unnecessary entanglement in the affairs of others where we have no national interest. We will restore the American Republic, and abandon the foolish notion of an American Empire. 
We will do these things because this is who we are: we are optimists, who believe that what's best for all the people is best, and that we as a people can meet any challenge. 

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