This morning, I tuned in, as I always do, to Meet the Press. One of Tom's guests was Rudy Giuliani who was there as a surrogate for the McCain campaign. Giuliani was trying to defend the latest McCain commercial that paints Obama as an advocate of sex education at the kindergarten level. He was trying to defend Sarah Palin's clear lack of qualifications as well as the growing rumblings about misconduct in her leadership in Alaska. At one point when he was launching an attack on Obama, Giuliani pointed out that Obama was the most liberal member of the Senate and that Joe Biden was the third most liberal member. (Who's lucky number 2??) My thought was, "Awesome! That's just what we need -- two liberals to really shake things up."
And then I realized that this was meant to shock us, to scare us, to convince us that voting for Obama and Biden would be a tremendous mistake. It's not the first time that candidates have used "liberal" as a slur against another candidate. I can remember Michael Dukakis coming under fire for being a card-carrying member of the ACLU. It's become a rather damning slur, and it's time for that to stop. As a liberal, I'm offended by this portrayal of liberal as something dirty or unseemly when the truth is that any candidate running as a candidate of change has to be a liberal.
Have you ever looked the word up? Do you know what it really means to be liberal? According to dictionary.com, a liberal is
favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
(often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts
Which one of those definitions mean all hell breaking loose? Which one of those definitions indicates a general destruction of our society as we know it? Is it the one about being free from bigotry? Or maybe the one about being generous? Or being anti-monarchy? This country was FOUNDED by liberals. Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, George Washington? Those men were liberals (except maybe that free from bigotry part, as I'm sure their slaves would attest to). They had the vision and courage to break from the monarchy and start a government like none ever seen before. Turning "liberal" into a dirty word is an insult to everything those men fought for -- and an insult to everything this country is supposed to represent.
This country has a history of liberalism, of standing up to injustice and seeking reform when things are falling apart. Abraham Lincoln was a liberal, leading the country through one of the greatest reforms in its history -- the abolition of slavery. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a liberal, setting into motion the most radical series of government reforms to attempt to get this country through the Great Depression.
The fact of the matter is that when this country has faced its greatest challenges, when it has been in the greatest peril, it has been the liberals who have stepped forward and held our hands through the crisis. Where would this country be without those liberal founding fathers? Without Lincoln or Roosevelt? Without Woodrow Wilson, who came up with this crazy idea that maybe the countries of the world could work together to secure worldwide peace? Without JFK and LBJ, who had the courage to champion legislation aimed to end racism? Without Martin Luther King, who had the dream of harmony and brotherhood?
Obama is the most liberal person to ever run for president? Hallelujah! We need a liberal now more than ever. Look was 8 years of "compassionate conservatism" has gotten us. If we want to weather this storm we're facing, it's a liberal we want at the helm of this ship -- or we just may end up on the rocks.