I wrote this awhile back in an attempt to define my political and social worldviews. Afterwards when I re-read it I saw that it could also be used as
a statement of just why I personally feel a liberal worldview is ultimately a more humane and decent one that the attitude beging foisted upon us as a
conservative worldview, when all actuality it has little to do with classic conservatism and is closer to nihilism than anything else.
I grew up believing John Kennedy’s famous, “Ask not what your country can do for you; rather ask what you can do for your country.” I grew up
believing Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I have a dream.” I grew up believing, “All you need is love.” I grew up believing the Earth is all we
have so we’d better take care of it because moving is not an option. Besides, what good are property rights if the land is poisoned and cannot
support life? I grew up believing that to change the world you must change hearts and minds first. I still believe these things. I believe that
society is not just an aggregate of business concerns but a community of people. I believe that until the needs of all the people; from the mansion to
the hovel are met, nothing will change. I believe that unless it is applied equally, there is no justice. I believe that if you truly want to help the
poor, then they must be given a reason to hope. Because without hope why should they care, much less even try? I believe as the Rig-Veda said almost
five thousand years ago, “Truth is one, sages call it by various names.” I believe that the truth of a religion is in whether it leads the heart
to God, and that only the individual can determine that. In short, I am a liberal and proud of it. And, at this late date see no reason to change. I
refuse to accept a grim hearted conservatism that has perverted Kennedy’s call to public service to read, ask not what you can do for your country,
rather ask what tax cut and bailout your country can give to you.
I am sick and tired of liberal being used as an insult, a dirty word, and a scapegoat. We have a long and honorable history. Work eight hours a
day, forty hours a week? Thank a liberal. Are you on Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid? Thank a liberal. If the air and water are cleaner today
than thirty years ago, thank a liberal. A minimum wage other than what the bosses can get away with paying, safer workplaces and public education,
unemployment insurance? Thank a liberal. Conservatives didn’t give us these things, indeed they fought them tooth and nail. In fact they still are
and would eliminate or privatize them entirely if they thought they could get away with it and God knows they are trying. I will end my days
objecting as vigorously as I can to their cold-eyed reptilian world-view until they cart me away to the re-education camps. I cannot even call
them “The Right” anymore, they are so wrong.
I used to believe that there wasn’t any difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. I was wrong. Since the mid 1960’s, the
Republican party has been taken over by extremists and it’s moderate and liberal branches are being forced out. I understand that there are still
plenty of decent Republicans and conservatives in the rank and file. They are people of good will who truly believe in their political ideology. I
have no problem with them even if we disagree. It is the Republican leadership and their media spokesmen that cynically play the politics of hate and
division, then hide behind the flag as they do it. It is they who have poisoned the political discourse in this country by playing one group off
another in order to gain and keep power.
It began with the embracing of racist elements in the old south that bolted the Democratic party over desegregation. They then took in
anti-abortionists and the fundamentalist branch of evangelic Christianity as well as xenophobes, homophobes and right wing militias. When you throw in
anti-tax activists, laissez-faire capitalists, nostalgic cold warriors and wannabe empire builders, you have a volatile mix that caters to all that is
narrow-minded, hateful and selfish in the American spirit. On top of all this, they insist that they and only they are the true Americans, patriots
and Christians. It is an extremely offensive and insulting stance to those of us who do not share their opinions.
Just look at their spokesmen in print and on the air, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and Grover Norquist for example. All four use
their pulpits to spew poisons of the worst kind then hide behind their first amendment rights of free speech to say what they want. Rush Limbraugh has
railed against drug addicts for years until it turned out that he is one. Now he claims he is being persecuted by the law for it because of his
politics. Michael Savage was fired from his job on MSNBC for telling a gay caller that he was a sodomite, and that he should get AIDS and die. Ann
Coulter has actually called for the banning of the Democratic party and creation of a one party state. I believe that's called Fascism. She has also
said that her only regret in regards to the Oklahoma City bombing was that Timothy McViegh didn’t bomb the New York Times building instead. Grover
Norquist, the Republican strategist and head of Americans for
Tax Reform has compared the estate tax to the Nazi holocaust. Comparing a tax to the holocaust where over six million died simply for being who they
were? Give me a break. He is so anti-government and anti-tax that he is totally blind to the good that it can do and to the harm his policies would
cause to the poor and disenfranchised. Of course, he doesn’t care.
They may not be the official face of the Republican party, but neither are they censured. In fact they are actually cultivated no matter how
odious their views. That in itself speaks volumes.
These people are clueless. They call themselves conservatives, but in reality they are often opposed to historical conservatism which is more
isolationist and cautious in outlook. They are more reactionary and nihilist, and are so obsessed with their own ideologies that they blind themselves
to basic realities. Most notably, that the world is varied and complex and that no one ideology can possibly embrace it. Considering the wars that
have been fought over the past hundred years, we should know this by now, but they obviously don’t. America has long been a multicultural,
pluralistic society and any attempt to change this runs counter to the ideals this country was founded on. Ideals, though never fully achieved that
are still worth striving for. And then there is the basic fact that we are at our very core socially communal animals. This is not voluntary on our
part but built into the very fabric of who we are and in ways that we don’t even understand. To assert that each person is an island of selfish
interest is to deny the interdependence we all share.
In the meantime, the Democratic party has remained (despite the rhetoric from the right) centrist or slightly to the left thereof. The saddest
spectacle over the past thirty-five years has to be the Democratic leadership capitulating to right wing extremists, abandoning the social activism
that made them great, and trying to position themselves as the conservative lite party. No wonder they keep losing elections. People want real
alternatives to choose from, not some timid hey I’m conservative too nonsense. If that is all the democratic party has to offer, then why bother
voting for them at all?
Simply put, the struggle between the Republican and Democratic parties, between conservatives and liberals is just the political face of the
between two vastly different world-views. One essentially closed, punitive and self-interested, the other, more open, humanist and community oriented.
Cognitive scientist, George Lakoff has written a fascinating book called “Moral Politics” that deals intelligently with this subject.
If this reads as a one sided attack on conservatives and Republicans, it cannot be helped. The politics of greed, prejudice and self
righteousness is deeply offensive to me and runs contrary to what I consider simple decency. The liberals and Democrats also have their fools,
opportunists and raging ego’s as well. It has also capitulated to corporations and vested interests, selling not just America, but the world short.
It has also lied, stolen and manipulated its way to power. In fact the entire political system in this country is rotten to the core and deserves to
be ripped out by its roots. But that is far easier said than done, especially in this age of cultural passivity and applied ignorance. So, for those
of us who for some God forsaken reason still care; and lacking any viable alternatives, can only work with what we have. That being said; I personally
believe that a liberal world-view is far more constructive, positive and less offensive than the politics of division.
When all the rhetoric is stripped away, the purpose of government is to provide a safe place to raise crops and children. The rest is merely
icing on the cake. The question is, what is that a mandate for? Is it solely a mandate for internal policing and external defense leaving everything
else up to a laissez-faire marketplace and the individual? Or, is it a mandate for broader social and environmental concerns as well? For the
conservative the answer is yes to the first question. For the liberal the answer is yes to second also. Put another way, the conservatives claim the
rights and freedoms of the individual are deemed paramount. For the liberal, the rights and freedom of the individual must segue with, and at some
point give way to the greater concerns of community. The environment is a classic example of this.
The rape and pillage of the Earth is foolhardy at best and self-destructive in the long run. It boils down to this; unless we are willing to
accept a massive die off of the human race to bring our population more in line with what the Earth’s resources can comfortably support, or change
our lifestyles so that the
resources we have are distributed more equitably, then we must nurture what we have. Already whole fisheries are collapsing and the rain forests, our
main source of oxygen, are being destroyed at an alarming rate. The polar ozone holes are growing larger, the Earth is warming and deserts are
spreading devouring precious crop lands. These events should be outside the realm of politics and be a matter of great concern to all of humanity. It
is morally wrong to assert that the common resources that we all need and share can be owned by any one person or corporation and exploited for short
term profits. This narrow minded vision will only lead to disaster. Chief Seattle said, ”The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.”
The planet and all that is on it must be nurtured for all and held as a common inheritance. After all, if we waste and lay bare the Earth then we
are, simply put, doomed. There is no other Earth to move to. Ways must be developed to cultivate what we have for the good of all and come up with
alternatives for what we lack. If we must talk profits, to do so would reap in the long run far greater profits, to fail to do so will only reap the
One of the most frightening things about the hard right is their denial of global warming and other important environmental issues, asserting
blindly that property rights are paramount to all ecological concerns. This attitude is a endangers everybody.
Several civilizations in antiquity collapsed because their environments degraded to the point that they couldn’t support themselves. The Maya
are the classic example. This is not political posturing but a matter of historical fact. We are part of the planet. If we destroy the resources that
support us, we will fall. And, if we are too efficient at it, there may not be another civilization to follow us. This is a matter of our heritage,
our children and our future. Not one person or company should ever be allowed to claim precedence over it.
Way too many are poor and way too many are starving, if not for food then for meaning, direction and hope in their lives. In the glaring
disparity between the have’s and the have not, the seeds of hatred are sown. The extremes are vast. When the poverty level here in the United
States would support a person like royalty in many parts of the world, something is terribly wrong. And, to add insult on top of injury, many of the
well off here resent the poor their needs. When too
many people are hungry and the talk of hope cruel, when justice is only for those who have, when whole communities have nothing left to lose, watch
out. Desperation breeds desperate measure as terrorism has shown us. Underneath the global veneer of Nike, Disney, McDonald’s and Wal-mart, the old
cultures and civilizations still exist and for many, they are still worth fighting and dying for.
If we really want to fight terrorism then we need to fight it by supporting responsible governments answerable to their people not to
international corporations. Give real assistance to the poor in the form of honorable and decent ways of making a living, not a 10 cent (or less) an
hour job in a Nike sweat shop or worse. Don’t pillage their environment and heritage in the search of a quick profit. Respect cultural traditions
and treat people honorably and with justice. Fighting terrorism with bullets and bombs will achieve nothing but more bullets and bombs. The sad
history of Israel has shown us that.
These are deep and profound issues that cannot be dealt with via sound bites and photo op’s. If we are truly a global society, then we need to
finally put nationalism aside and behave responsibly. America’s response to these issues will make or break what Bush the first called “The New
World Order.” Bush the second has hired a Wall Street ad agency to sell America to the world, which simply shows how out of touch he really is.
Terrorists aside, the vast majority of the world population do not hate America or Americans. They may be poor but they are not stupid. What they hate
are the selfish policies of the American government and the corporations which they serve. These issues have never been about simple material goods
and marketing ploys but are deeply spiritual, rooted in a sense of justice and fair play. Trying to deal with these resentments with bombs and ad
campaigns is to simply ignore the reality of them.
Many countries in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century outlawed or severely limited the life span and scope of corporations because it
was felt that besides being a way to disperse losses, it was also a way evading responsibility for their misdeeds as well. Nothing has changed except
that the American courts have stupidly ruled that corporations are individuals with all the rights that designation allows yet, it seems, with none of
the responsibilities. In short they
can pretty much do what they want with impunity, all in the name of profits. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and others as well, have
given them a carte blanche to ride rough shod over citizens rights in search of profits to the point of forcing sovereign governments to repeal laws
that would interfere with it. Mussolini said,” Fascism should more properly called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate
power.” He should know. Just look around at what is going on almost sixty years after his fall and honestly ask if this is not what is happening.
A global economy doesn’t have to be built on giant multinational corporations, ignoring the needs and wishes of local people in the search for
profits. It can be built on cooperation and mutual need as well.
Neoliberalism, the economic “theory” that gave rise to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, NAFTA and scores of other
trade agreements is designed more to keep the industrial countries on top than to help the third world ones. It has nothing in common with true
liberalism and is simply a front for predatory capitalism. Just as Neoconservatism has little to do with historical conservatism but is more a front
for aggressive American nationalism. In this case the two seemingly opposed world views work hand in glove to dominate and pillage the planet. There
is not one instance of a developing country being helped by their policies. If the truth be told, the IMF and the World Bank behave more like global
loan sharks than tools for development. The result for any country that is seduced into accepting their “assistance” is akin to the poor man
having to pawn his possessions to re-coop the money lost from paying off the pawn shop. The result for any country accepting their aid is a never
ending downward economic spiral, destitution for its citizens and increased hatred for the west.
True justice happens when it is applied equally and the playing field is level. True justice happens when race, gender, sexual preference or
nationality means no more or less than the color of an eye. True justice happens when the smallest and poorest among us can stand up and have their
voices heard. True justice happens when it is finally realized it is the people not corporations that really matter.
Whoever said the bottom line is profits lied. The real bottom line is people. If those who actually do all the work aren’t happy then they
won’t do a good job or give good service. And, if the customer isn’t happy, there will be no profits. The same is true of wages, if workers are
underpaid and can barely survive then they can’t afford to buy. Even those who think only of gains and losses should be able to realize that. People
must be given a reason to hope and something to aspire towards and a minimum wage job at Wal-mart or McDonald’s isn’t it. Finally, true justice
happens when we realize that no man is an island, that we are all in this together and that the fate of the least of us matters too.
There are those who when reading this would call me a dreamer, idealist, damn fool, liberal or communist. I happily acknowledge all of them
except communist. I would challenge those critics to look the most impoverished and disenfranchised of the world in the eye and proclaim with a
straight face that their corporate, conservative right wing agendas will ever help them at all. I seriously doubt that they could do it without
cracking a grin.
[edit on 2-10-2005 by DJDOHBOY]