Worried About Thanksgiving Fights with Right-Wing Family Members?
Continued from previous page
Conservatism, by contrast, tends to take a dim view of human nature, prefers hierarchy to liberty, and isn't completely convinced people can or should be trying to contravene the will of God or their betters by trying to arrange their own futures. This tends to lead to a selective reading of the Constitution (as well as the Bible), and -- as we've seen in the Bush years -- a far more flexible attitude toward its interpretation.
The proof, however, is in the history -- and it's pretty irrefutable. America's greatest moments of progress, generosity, and moral strength occurred when the country stuck most closely to its progressive ideals. We loved America so much that we freed the slaves, passed child labor laws, built schools and colleges, gave the vote to women, enacted civil rights laws, rebuilt Europe after a war we helped win, and put a man on the moon. All of these were progressive projects -- and all were fought tooth and nail by conservatives in their time, simply because they feared change and saw power as a zero-sum game. Yeah, we sometimes overshoot and miss -- but you can't argue with the daring scope of our dreams.
Conversely, most of our worst moments -- the Native American genocide, the continued justification of slavery and Jim Crow, the Japanese internment, Abu Ghraib -- were conservative projects that were driven by narrow-minded xenophobia and short-term greed, and are regretted by everyone (including most conservatives) when we look back now.
Rick Perlstein has called this out as a predictable pattern: conservatives will loudly obstruct social progress for decades before finally accepting it -- and then, they'll insist they were 100 percent for it all along.
Love us or hate us; but we're every bit as American as our conservative friends and relatives, and have been since the day the Declaration was written (by a liberal, in fact).
2. Liberals want to leave us defenseless in the face of evildoers around the world.
The big disconnect on security issues begins with the fact that we have a far more expansive definition of "security" than conservatives do. And, perhaps, a broader sense of what the actual threats are, and what can be done about them.
When conservatives discuss "security," they're usually thinking in terms of solving all our problems by sending in more guys and gals with guns. The flip side of this that they tend not to give much credence to real threats that can't be fixed by guys and gals with guns.
But as progressives, we know that the country's financial crisis is a security issue. And in a world of superbugs and epidemics, universal health care is a security issue. And global warming is, plain as day, a looming security issue (and the Pentagon agrees). We also know that sending in the Marines, hiring more cops, and taking off our shoes at the airport won't begin to address some of our most terrifying problems. Real-world security is far more complex, and requires a much wider range of solutions, than most conservatives are willing to consider.
3. Liberals hate the free market.
If that's so, why does everyone down at the Apple Store know my name?
The operative word here is "free." Liberals believe wholeheartedly in the amazing power of markets to deliver all kinds of important goods. But we've also noticed that some of the deepest human goods of all -- a strong family, a caring community, a healthy environment, safe food, clean water and air, and time to enjoy them all -- are assigned no economic value at all in unfettered markets. If we want to protect the value of things that money can't buy (and even conservatives will usually agree that such common goods exist, and deserve to be protected), then we need to put some restrictions on markets so they can't encroach into those areas.