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View Diary: The Problem With 'Liberals' (79 comments)

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  •  It is long past time (36+ / 0-)

    to take back the word "liberal" from the republican scrap heap of "dirty words".

    Liberal needs to be redefined by liberals to be a strong word, one loaded with all the connotations of strength, support for everyone's dreams, doing the right thing, moving the country forward and at the forefront of new technologies, new concern for the environment, new ways of looking at old problems to make sure they are solved.

    If we continue to accept liberal as a dirty word like Reagan said so long ago, we deserve all the dirty words thrown our way. And this is the one of many things that made me want to leave the Democratic Party.

    Grow some (whatever you want to put here) and stand up for America, for what you believe in and what will actually move the country forward. Don't accept any more Republican lies about how they are willing to work with Democrats. They ARE NOT WILLING  to work with anyone who will not toe their line and kowtow to the current or future Norquist.

    Stand up liberals, and state your liberal beliefs. Be proud that you believe in the future, you believe in the ability of America to work for all Americans (not just the rich) and you believe that if we really do work together, we can solve our problems.

    We are not dividing the country, the Republicans are. We are not holding the American dream hostage, the Republicans are. We are not ignoring global problems and rewarding those who ignore them, the Republicans are. Make Republican a dirty word!

    I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage

    by woolibaar on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:16:35 AM PST

    •  So what is the definition of 'liberal'? (nt) (1+ / 0-)
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      Those who support banning cocaine are no better than those who support banning cheeseburgers

      by EthrDemon on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:48:41 AM PST

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      •  It's rather like pornography (4+ / 0-)

        "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it"


        by raincrow on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:15:45 AM PST

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      •  I'm not proposing this as a definition (4+ / 0-)

        but more as a descriptive statement:

        A modern liberal is someone who agrees with the philosophical argument that there is not a clear distinction between positive and negative rights.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 04:35:01 PM PST

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        •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
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          The way I see those criticisms framed strikes me as a conservative viewpoint.  In fact the whole essence of the argument against the ACA is that any alleged right to health care doesn't create a corresponding right to take anyone else's property to pay for it.  (Basically the example in the last paragraph.)

          Those who support banning cocaine are no better than those who support banning cheeseburgers

          by EthrDemon on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 04:50:21 PM PST

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          •  No, it's actually a deeply liberal viewpont (9+ / 0-)

            You really need the whole background of the positive/negative rights thing.

            Basically, in order for a 'right' to exist in a meaningful sense, there must also be a corresponding duty imposed on other people to respect that right. For instance, if I have a moral right to life, then other people have (at a minimum) a moral duty not to kill me.

            The first human rights identified were phrased as rights to do things: life, free speech, free association, and free exercise of religion. So the corresponding moral duties were understood to be simply the duty not to interfere with an individual's exercise of his rights. A duty not to do something is a negative duty.

            Conservatives of the time objected to the idea of universal rights in general, but over time, the liberal viewpoint gradually became dominant in the West. Modern Western conservatives generally recognize the older set of rights.

            But liberal philosophers didn't stop in the 18th century. Somewhere around the beginning of the 20th century, people began proposing that there were universal human rights to things like food, water, health care, and education.  These couldn't be readily explained in terms of negative duties.

            Modern conservative philosophers invented the "negative/positive rights" dichotomy to explain why they differentiated these newer proposed rights, which were mostly economic, from the older social/political rights.

            The idea, in essence, is that if a proposed right comes with a positive duty attached, then it's a positive right. And a positive right isn't a real moral right at all, because it imposes a positive duty on other people to do something, which denies those other people's right to freedom of choice in some respect. People who make this argument often make comparisons to forced labor.

            The liberal response is as follows:

            Most rights, including the older rights which are claimed to be purely 'negative', actually do come with positive duties attached. For instance, your right to vote implies that somebody has a duty to provide ballots, count your vote, and respect the result. My right to life implies that others have a moral duty to protect me from being killed and to try to save my life if I am dying.

            Meanwhile, most rights that are claimed to be 'positive' can be rephrased in a way that makes them 'negative'. The wiki entry gives some decent examples here.

            Thus, there is no real distinction between positive and negative rights; both generally come with both positive and negative duties attached, and both can be framed as either positive or negative. The conservative argument fails to draw the unambiguous qualitative distinction it needs to draw in order to support keeping the older social and political rights and discarding the newer mostly-economic rights.

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 05:36:08 PM PST

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            •  A number of conservative thinkers have tried (1+ / 0-)
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              to read into the Constitution a set of economic rights that are not there. The only references to the economy are in the parts where the patent right is established and Congress is given the right to control interstate commerce. And to provide for the general welfare. There is no mention of free markets or capitalism, no provision for a type of economy. If Congress were to decide that in order to provide for the general welfare it could regulate anything it deemed necessary a plain reading of the text would support that.

              Of course the conservatives on this court have found ways around a plain reading.

              •  "Economic rights" (1+ / 0-)
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                according to conservatives and libertarians can be translated as "privileges of property". They don't actually believe in human rights or civil rights of any sort.

                •  Not exactly (0+ / 0-)

                  Libertarians do believe in some civil rights, they just don't accept that they trump property rights.

                  Those who support banning cocaine are no better than those who support banning cheeseburgers

                  by EthrDemon on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 07:40:41 AM PST

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                  •  But their is no firm definition of economic rights (0+ / 0-)

                    in the Constitution. Which would sort of imply that they are subordinate to the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

                    •  Right (1+ / 0-)
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                      But the Bill of Rights is AOK with most libertarians, because things like freedom of speech or freedom of association don't have a cost attached.

                      Where you start to see daylight between liberals and libertarians is when you expand "rights" to include things like health care or clean water, which someone else is compelled to provide or pay for.

                      Those who support banning cocaine are no better than those who support banning cheeseburgers

                      by EthrDemon on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 09:42:00 AM PST

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                      •  Look the constitution does not specify (0+ / 0-)

                        what economic system we us in this country. It just guarantees that you get just compensation if the government seizes your property. And due process at the same time. It does not mandate a free market. Or restrain the government from engaging in economic activity. Or ban any type of commercial regulation. Those are matters for the legislature. You can be compelled to pay taxes. Like it or not. And these taxes may be used as the legislature and executive see fit. If you believe having to help provide clean water is a violation of your rights go ahead. But you are still compelled. And it is constitutional.

                        I am sure you and other like minded people can go buy some land and declare yourself independent from the rest of us. But if it is on US soil you are bound by US law.

      •  well... (8+ / 0-)

        there are a lot of (valid) definitions of liberal, but I'm guessing that the one being discussed here is something like this:

        a belief in social justice and that the legitimate role of the state includes addressing issues such as unemployment, health care, education, and the expansion of civil rights
        The definition also usually includes implications of open-mindedness and the acceptance that differing views exist and should be considered.

        Here's a nice quote on the subject from a significant person in American history:

        "As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality." 

-- George Washington
        •  Social justice. (9+ / 0-)

          It's funny, but this morning I asked myself why I vote democratic year after year after year, and I decided that social justice was the one issue most important to me. It's what gets me out there doing what I can in my own very small way.

          I wanted to say a lot more, but it's all very small and personal and boring. Suffice to say that I have some very close relatives who are perfectly fine with the idea that bad things may happen to poor people with no jobs or health insurance because they should have made better choices in life. There seems to be no argument I can make against this sort of attitude, and frankly, it fills me with despair, because there are all too many people who feel this way, and that there have always been. Having said that I'm a heck of a lot happier that we re-elected Obama.

        •  That's a super quote! (1+ / 0-)
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          I always thought that open-mindedness & acceptance were defining traits of a liberal.

          ...inspiration moves me brightly

          by wbr on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 04:59:58 AM PST

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      •  We say "liberal" because... (3+ / 0-)
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        EthrDemon, quill, fuzzyguy American political discourse, you can't say "social democrat".

        Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

        by Linnaeus on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:48:36 PM PST

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        •  I call myself Democratic Socialist, (2+ / 0-)
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          fuzzyguy, XenuLives

          and use that label during discussing politics. When asked what that means, I tell them to look up Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and like him, I caucus with the Democrats, because enough of us have not came out of the closet yet.

          Severely Socialist

          by ichibon on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 03:11:16 AM PST

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      •  Liberal: lib·er·al (lbr-l, lbrl) ~ definition: (2+ / 0-)
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        sidnora, wbr

        lib·er·al  (lbr-l, lbrl)
        a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
        b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
        c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
        d. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
        a. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
        b. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.

        Goodbye American Dream....

        by Fireshadow on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:45:41 PM PST

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    •  conservative needs to framed (3+ / 0-)
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      raina, AaronInSanDiego, elginblt

      as greedy and stingy.

      GOP = Grifter's Only Party

      by Paddy999 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 03:34:38 PM PST

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      •  and as out of touch with reality (0+ / 0-)

        as recent events have shown. As others have said elsewhere, we need to stick them with that label: Out of touch with reality.

        Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today. James Dean

        by raina on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 05:28:33 PM PST

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        •  I usually remind "Patriotic Conservatives" (1+ / 0-)
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          that during our War of Independence, Conservatives, then also known as Tory's,  were the ones who took England's side, some even took up arms to fight for England.

          Severely Socialist

          by ichibon on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 03:19:01 AM PST

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      •  someone who wants to "conserve" (3+ / 0-)
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        wbr, jennifervents, NYmama

        wealth, privilege, and the status quo for those who have traditionally been entitled to them.

        "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

        by AaronInSanDiego on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:41:23 PM PST

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