Wednesday :: Nov 17, 2004

'We're Like The World ... We're Not Red Staters ....'

by pessimist

Comment poster Peter didn't like the next of my posts, so I found something that he might like a bit better.

The main objection Peter had was to comments in the post which suggested that progressive states (to borrow a meme from another comment poster) should cut loose from the conservative states and let them flounder as progressives don the mantle of States Rights.

This post I found suggests that we need only wait Bu$hCo out - that the tide will turn.

So read this post, and Progressives for State's Rights and tell us which you prefer - and which is more likely.

Liberalism may yet come back

It has not been an easy time for American liberals. A lot of us who don't think of ourselves as conservatives felt personally stung by the presidential election results, as though we had just been informed that America is not the country it used to be and that we are no longer welcome here.

Of course this election, important as it is, doesn't really redefine our nation. It only reminds us that every once in a while we pass through periods of resurgent conservatism. For the better part of our history, America has embodied a liberalism that is both generous in spirit and open-minded toward minority viewpoints. The weight of all that history is not going to be overthrown by one election.

Ah - if it were that simple!

Among those periods when our nation was under the sway of rising conservatism we can include both the pro-business binge of the 1920s and the post-war Eisenhower era.

But the leaders of our historic high points, the leaders for whom we name holidays and whose faces appear on our currency, have generally been liberals.

Abraham Lincoln pretty much defined modern liberalism when he strengthened the federal government in order to protect the lives and interests of the poor and powerless. In his day, Lincoln faced down the greatest threat to survival that our country has ever known -- and it was, of course, a conservative threat.

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott remarked that if Confederate President Jefferson Davis were alive today, he would be a Republican. There is little doubt this is true, just as there's little doubt that Lincoln would not find a comfortable home in the aggressively conservative Republican Party of today.

Traumatized Democrats shouldn't dismiss altogether what might be called their international majority. The "blue states" may look beleaguered, clinging as they do to America's fringes, but let's not forget that they are in ideological alignment with the rest of the Western world.

Had the European democracies as well as Canada and Australia been allowed to vote in this election, Kerry would have won in a monumental landslide.

The rise of a new kind of conservatism.

This conservatism is predicated on a vision of religion as politics, a vision unfamiliar to the rest of the democratic world. The pollsters tell us that in this year's election, Karl Rove mobilized the religious right with a campaign that made Christian conservatives feel threatened by gay Americans who want to get married. This was facilitated by the breakneck speed with which some leaders in the blue states validated such marriages.

But, however unwise it may have been for these blue-staters to celebrate an idea that many Americans still find threatening, there can be little doubt that they, and not those who responded to Rove's anti-gay campaign, represent the wave of the future.

When we talk about a constitutional amendment against gay marriage what we're really talking about is using the federal government to force people to love only those whom the government approves.

This can hardly be called anything else but "big government conservatism."

Given a choice between the open-minded liberalism of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King as opposed to this new government-on-steroids conservatism, will Americans, in the long run, really choose the latter over the former?

This kind of conservatism intrudes not only into our lives but into our homes and our very hearts. Is this really what Americans hope for?

There is a reason why countries like Denmark and New Zealand are called liberal democracies. But are we headed toward a transformed America that is less like them and more like an old-fashioned, conservative theocracy?

I'm guessing we are not, and that's why I see an eventual return to our liberal roots. This will only happen, however, when an effective spokesperson for America's liberal tradition manages to seize the nation's imagination. Right now it isn't clear who that great communicator might be.

Given normal times, this would definitely be the case. But now?

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pessimist :: 2:56 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!