Preface . . . and invitation to those who would write
I was following some interesting social media trails when I stumbled upon an excellent personal blog called Proud Navy Veteran. This blogger, whose real name is not revealed, launched his/her blog as a coping response to the shocking and horrific result of the election. I recommend that you click on the link and read some of PNV’s posts: they are thoughtful and inspiring. Though his/her upbringing and life experience serving in the Navy is nothing like my own, we are nevertheless very much connected in our reactions to the election and horror over the fiascos that have emerged since then. Pandemocracy is the result of months of agony and soul-searching in the (virtual) company of a small cadre of like-minded friends from across the country, most whom could not sleep either and who ached to collaborate on a way out of our national nightmare. It is reassuring to see that people with wholly different life experiences have had similar responses!
It was clear to see that sharing the pain was the most helpful part of dealing with the situation. So first we conceived and launched Pandemocracy as a Facebook group to allow people to gather, share their feelings and share news about various #Resistance action campaigns. This has worked well and has felt like a balm applied on our bruises.
Eventually, to spread the word even further, we created the pandemocracy.org website to publish our findings. We are also using the website to help plan and organize our own projects (the first of which is the VoterWiki, which we hope you will check out!). Now, Proud Navy Veteran (and, in a way, his teacher Ms. Well) challenges us to go further and do the very hard work of expressing our own ideas and thoughts in some kind of coherent fashion. We see the benefits of this and are taking up the gauntlet. We have added a Blogroll page. We invite everyone who would like to blog about topics relating to what is going on in America and why “a true democracy works for everyone” to consider writing and submitting your own post for others to read. You can email us here to get your own blogger ID.
What is a liberal?
I haven’t been asked the question “What do Liberals believe in?” but I was challenged to think through what my answer to this question is by a wonderful post written by a blogger going by the name Proud Navy Veteran (PNV). His or her post entitled “What do/should liberals believe in?” made a great start at articulating what liberals believe in and I am developing this idea a little further. Please feel free to leave me your comments in the below comment box.
Let’s start with how we liberals think:
We care to get at the truth, so we value education, expertise and intelligence. We respect authority but we are willing to allow facts, science and our moral compass to inform us and our sense of right and wrong, and we will question authority, when we think it is wrong. We come at most issues with an open mind and acceptance of change and a willingness to be humble.
What are our goals?
We liberals see that striving for the best life for everyone is the best for all. We believe we all benefit when everyone is treated as “you would want to be treated.” This appears to be in stark contrast to the goals of our conservative counterparts, who seem to believe that striving for the best for themselves (and, in fact, justifying their unfair access and entitlement to success) justifies the continuation of institutionalized forms of discrimination and even slavery, which establish social and economic hierarchies in which others less worthy and deserving can and should be servile, impoverished and oppressed.
What are our budgetary priorities?
We mostly want to fund the basis for quality of life and equal access to opportunities for everyone. Hence we believe everyone benefits from government programs providing:
- Quality education
- Quality healthcare (and the ability for women to choose when to have kids or not have kids)
- Poverty alleviation
- Environmental protection, both the immediate kind which protects us from toxic exposures and unhealthy conditions and the long-term protection of nature and natural cycles, including the disruption of these on a global scale, which is far more intangible but also critical to our success as a species.
- Humane treatment of the most vulnerable, including the insane, the incompetent, the abused, those victimized and even those who (for whatever reasons) have made mistakes and are convicted of crimes.
- Protection of our veterans, elderly, and disabled.
- Protection of democracy and standing up against tyranny, slavery, oppression around the world, while welcoming those who seek to come to America with fair access and opportunity.
What are our values?
Because others don’t agree with these budgetary priorities and because we live in a capitalistic democracy, liberals find that they are perpetually fighting against conservatives’ and capitalists’ efforts to restrict and create exceptions and encroachments on the fair and equal applications of democracy to all. As a result, we need defensive policies that push back on and fight against:
- Violence towards, discrimination of and disenfranchisement of: women, racial and religious minorities, LGBTQ, handicapped, ex-felons, etc.
- Abuse of Corporate economic power to influence elections, usually to push for rules that enable unconscionable economic exploitation (of labor, of the environment, of human rights) by those who would take advantage of Capital’s power, wealth, influence and immorality to stack the deck in their favor (i.e. Corporate “personhood” rulings, “Citizens United,” etc.).
- Efforts to undermine Democracy: Since the vast majority of Americans would naturally be inclined towards liberal policies, conservatives seeking to maintain special rights and powers for themselves need to deprive a sufficient number of the population of either their right to vote, their access to the vote, their access to accurate information regarding who to vote for, and/or their fair representation by duly elected leaders. The range of tactics used by conservatives to achieve these goals include gerrymandering, voter suppression, electoral abuse, fake news, rigging the voter rolls, co-opting religious institutions (including accusing liberals of attacking conservatives’ faith values) and laws that prevent convicts (who are predominantly from the minority groups already discriminated against) from voting all work to to distort the outcome to their favor. The most recent experience—where the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign nation to undermine the will of the American people—reveals the depth of conservative’s actual contempt for democracy—at least so far as it works against their agenda.
What specific policies do liberals want?
Let’s leave out references to specific policies, like public funding of political races, because there is a lot of room for different approaches. Nevertheless, it seems abundantly clear that we cannot elevate the rights of individuals, as liberals want, when corporations walk around like giants among men, trampling on the rights of individuals. We need to get the rules changed permitting corporate “personhood” and, by extension, allowing unlimited funding of and influencing of elections, as has been done by the ruling in “Citizens’ United.” Liberals don’t believe corporations are entitled to “speech” within our elections but this is a big problem, given the presence of “corporatists” jurors on the Supreme Court.
Liberals believe in science and are extremely scared about climate change. Nevertheless, there is a lot of liberal “baggage” that remains from the nascent era when many of today’s environmental leaders cut their teeth as activists in antiwar protests, which grew enormously successful when, after WWII, they morphed into anti-nuclear protests. Despite the scale of the threat of climate change, the current vogue among environmentalists who hale from that anti-nuke era is to focus on advocating not for “carbon-free” energy but for renewables. Unfortunately, those of us who are more technically-inclined (i.e. the scientists, the engineers, the business people, the technicians, etc.) recognize that we won’t solve the problem of all of our carbon emissions unless we advocate for “carbon-free” energy. Renewables don’t stand a chance of eliminating global fossil fuel use, which remains steadily at about 80% of global energy. We need other, more efficient forms of carbon-free energy that can work 24×7 and compete head to head with natural gas—presently something provided only by nuclear power—but too many environmentalists connect nuclear bombs with nuclear power and deliberately obstruct the use of nuclear power. We need to resolve this dispute between those seeking to eliminate fossil fuels and address climate, if we are going to solve the climate crisis.
This is a good example of why being liberal doesn’t equate to having “specific policy” positions and why a statement of our goals, budgetary priorities and values is a better description of what being a liberal means. We can agree on those while arguing about execution and implementation.
Lastly, cutting to the heart of what it means to be a liberal, is that there is a sincerity there that is unique. Liberals actually believe what they say they do. This is in stark contrast with what is going on today with conservatives, because conservatives (especially those on the fringes) can’t articulate what they actually want to achieve, which includes condoning discrimination that favors white men, that favors Christianity, and that helps them get rich, since that wouldn’t fly politically. It would be akin to saying they still believe in slavery (which it appears many in the south still do). As such, to hide the truth, conservatives have become expert at innuendo, deception, deflection and projection: they prefer to “demonize” liberals and accuse them of undermining things like “family values” in order to win political support. They also tend to demonize everyone else, so as to keep the general sense of threat from the outside world very high and make their authoritarian world view seem more acceptable. It appears that dishonesty and disguise has become their way of life.