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I've been trying to find a better way to tell friends, relatives, strangers, etc. why I am a liberal (U.S. definition).  I thought it would be better if I could boil things down to a few clearly stated principles.  I make no claims to originality. In fact, I may have "stolen" these from various diaries on Daily Kos, but, if so, I don't remember to whom I should give credit.

First, let us distinguish "liberal" and "conservative" as tendencies or orientations vs. these terms as the names of  particular politicial ideologies or movements.  A person who is conservative by orientation or temperament is a traditionalist who likes things to change slowly, if at all.  By definition, he or she is more comfortable with the status quo (or an idealized form of such from his or her remembered childhood) than with movements for change.  A liberal by orientation is less satisfied with the status quo and embraces change--is future oriented rather than past oriented.  In this sense of orientation, rather than ideology, all societies need both conservatives and liberals--in order to avoid chaos or dissolution any period of rapid or massive change needs to be offset or balanced by a period of "normalcy" or rest or regrouping.  A society will have good things that need to be preserved from the past as a heritage and those of conservative orientation are the champions of such heritage and tradition. But a society, any society, will also have negative features that need to be overcome (in the U.S., think of slavery, segregation, the times when women couldn't vote, own property their own names, own businesses, work in "men's jobs," hold political office, or have any voice in whether or when they would get pregnant, etc.) and left behind.  Liberals will always lead the charge for such changes.

Now, more specifically, about U.S. liberalism as a political philosophy that I largely share.  It champions individual freedom (both the conservative and progressive traditions add a concern for the common good that is needed to balance the liberal focus on the individual) , is suspicious of concentrations of power (and wealth is power), trusts in reasoned debate and an open society and marketplace of ideas.  It is democratic because it trusts in people to govern themselves.   It is not overawed by traditional authority.   The roots of liberalism are found in the radical Free Church strand of  Protestantism ( with maybe some earlier roots in Medieval nominalism) and the 17th C. Enlightenment philosophy.  In the Free Church tradition, I would highlight especially the thought of  Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1676), John Milton (1608-1674), William Penn (1644-1718), Richard Overton (c. 1631-1664), & Roger Williams (c. 1603-1683).  The Enlightenment political philosophers most influential on the U.S. liberal tradition are the Englishman John Locke (1632-1704),  the Frenchman Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), and the Americans Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), & James Madison (1751-1836).

Contemporary defenses of politicial liberalism that I find helpful (although not agreeing with every part of any of these sources) include: John Rawls, A Theory of Justice;  Political Liberalism;  Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice; Susan Moller Okin, Justice, Gender, and the Family;  Seyla Benhabib, Situating the Self: Gender, Community, & Postmodernism in Ethics; Democracy and Difference; Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism; Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal; Paul Rogat Loeb, The Impossible Will Take a Little While; Soul of a Citizen; Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; Robert Wexler, Fire-Breathing Liberal.  Those are a good start.  I was also inspired by the fiction of Flannery O' Conner, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Dickens,  & Victor Hugo's Les Miserables,  & the utopian liberalism of Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek" universe.

But the roots of my political liberalism are not just historical, or derived from books--it is wrapped up in my autobiography.  I am a liberal (in the U.S. sense) because, first and foremost, my family supported desegregation. If you were a white person growing up in the South in the 1960s and stood against segregation, you were a liberal--plain and simple. (Actually, "liberal" was one of the nicest things we were called. Other terms included "race traitor," "communist," and much worse.) In fact, when my parents were young, any white person in the South who even wanted decent treatment for African-Americans (a term that didn't yet exist) WITHIN the Jim Crow segregation laws (instead of regularly demeaning, terrorizing, and lynching them) were called "liberals."  I am a liberal because liberals stand for a world not just of individual liberty, but of equality of persons, the common good, and environmental caretaking.

Here's my latest attempt at formulating my liberal principles:

People matter more than profits.  Profits matter in most cases. I am not a Marxist (though I have learned from Marx and find the conservative fear to even read Marx or consider the areas in which he is right to be ridiculous). Most businesses will not be non-profit or not-for-profit and without profits few businesses can survive.  But for liberals like myself, unlimited profit can never be the bottom line.  Profits cannot come at all costs.  People matter more than profits.  If a person or company must make less profit for the sake of people--in making a safe product or having safe working conditions or making sure one's environmental impact is as little as possible, for instance--then the welfare of people trumps higher profits.

Money is not speech.  The rightwing Supreme Court has been striking down campaign finance laws by claiming that restrictions on campaign donations by individuals or corporations stifles free speech. But if money is speech then there is no free speech.  The person or corporation with the most money can buy the most speech.  Banning corporate financing, publicly financing campaigns and giving each campaign equal access to free media promotes better democracy:  It means that people with great ideas who would make great elected officials can run even if they aren't rich or supported by the rich. More ideas can be debated in the public sphere than just those approved by the narrow range of the corporate media. And elected officials won't be owned by the big corporations who fund their campaigns.  If a rich person wants to own more TVs or i-Pads than others, liberals have no complaint--but they must not be allowed to use their money to purchase "more democracy" than others.

The Earth is meant to be humanity's home--not our toilet.  We must care for this planet. Sure, from the beginning we have adapted our environments to suit ourselves. And this is not bad in itself.  But, too often, we have destroyed our environments--turning forests into deserts, wiping out whole species of plants and animals, poisoning our air and water and threatening the survival of our own species with our greed.  To the liberal, there is an ethic of "enough."  Consumption has limits.  (Why do conservatives never want to conserve anything?)  To a liberal, a responsible ecological ethic is not necessarily anti-technology--but we recognize that technology is not a god and not all technological advances are truly "progress." We have to care for and adapt to the limits of our environment because we are not separate from it. We are all connected in a great web of life (to coin a phrase).

Individual liberties are balanced with concern for the common good.  Authoritarian societies--whether fascist, communist, or theocratic--oppress all individualism for the sake of (the authority's view of ) the common good. So, a particular society may decide that homosexuality threatens the common good and thus may have various penalties for gays and lesbians--sometimes even the death penalty. Others may believe that society functions best with women in clearly subservient roles to men--and may disallow women the right to vote or to be educated or to be seen in public, etc.  By contrast, libertarians defend only individual rights (or the rights of corporations).  But the U.S. liberal tradition, influenced by the democratic socialist tradition (a very strong influence on me), works to balance individual liberty and the common good--and recognizes that this balance is not always easy and that errors are made in both directions. (Example: Religious liberty means that all are free to worship the divine as they understand it--or to live without worship if they are atheists. We protect minority religious viewpoints against the tyranny of any religious majority. But there are limits:  If one's religion demands human sacrifice, concern for the common good must trump that.  One's religious convictions cannot be exercised to the degree that they represent a threat to others' wellbeing.)

The primary moral values of the political liberal are liberty, equality, & justice, & compassion.  From liberty, we get our concerns for freedom of religion (and it's corollary, separation of religious institutions from governmental institutions), freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances (my only arrests have come from exercising this right in the form known as civil disobedience).  From equality, liberals do not derive the conclusion of "simple equality" that Marxists would (e.g., demanding that everyone have exactly the same money, property, etc.). Nor are we content with simply the libertarian insistence on "equality of opportunity," but endorse a "complex equality," that accepts differences in talent, etc. but works for "equal participation"  and the equal value of all persons.  In liberal perspective, there is nothing inherently unjust in one person making more money than another--as long as all have what they need for human flourishing.  The cumulative GAP between rich and poor (i.e., the erosion of the middle class) is unjust, however, because it represents the concentration of power in the hands of the few.
Government (of the people, by the people, for the people) exists not just for defense of property and the enforcement of contracts (the conservative view), but to enable people to work together to those good ends which are difficult or impossible to do separately. To the liberal, the debate over "big government" vs. "small government" is mostly misplaced--the debate should be over what constitutes good government.  Clean government vs. corrupt government, competent government vs. ineffective government, or responsive government vs. out-of-touch government--are all the kinds of debates that liberals find more helpful than simple "big vs. small" government debates.

Taxes are a civic tithe.  Yes, taxes can be too high and too burdensome.  And, especially in a nation like ours that began with a series of tax protests, no one is ever going to like paying taxes.  But taxes are not inherently evil, but rather the price we pay for civilization. In countries where the taxes are insufficient to pay decent wages to government officials, bribery and corruption is rampant. Taxes are the price for good governance. With taxes we get roads paved, bridges built and kept in repair, levees built and kept in repair--all the infrastructure needed for a healthy society--including a healthy marketplace.  Taxes pay for firefighters and police officers and public schools, Social Security, clean water and air, and much else.  The rich should pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes because they can.  Flat tax schemes are inherently harmful to the poor. (If you have $100 & I have $1,000 and we are both taxed 10%, I'll have $900 left over to get through the month, but you'll only have $90--and probably won't make it to the end of the month.  Ridiculously low numbers used only for ease in visualization.)

Regulations exist to protect the vulnerable.  No one likes red tape--and all bureaucracies get tedious and need periodic reform. It is quite possible to over-regulate things.  But regulation and enforcement of regulation is necessary.  If you don't want your food to poison you, it needs to be inspected by the U.S. Dairy and Agriculture dept. (USDA) or the restaurant you're going to needs inspecting by the health department. If you don't want your kids to get sick from lead toys from China, then you need regulations--and enough inspectors to prevent this.  If you don't want oil companies to ravish the planet, then you need strict regulations--and a robust enforcement regime.  With "deregulation" of financing comes risky behavior that results in a collapsed economy.  Regulations need regular reexamination to see if they need reform, but "deregulation" as a battle cry or a political philosophy is a cry for anarchy and a recipe for disaster.

Liberals do not worship the "good ol' days."  We value and learn from the best of our history and from the mistakes in our history.  But whether it is the "Leave It To Beaver" view of the 1950s or the triumphalist perspective of The Patriot's History of the United States,  liberals do not have the conservative view of an idealized or perfected past.  Conservatives seem to believe that "the U.S. began perfect and only got better"--until the 1960s.  By contrast, liberals see the promise of the American dream as always being a struggle--"toward a more perfect union." Liberals can be overly confident about the ability to forge a perfect society in the future--some liberals need a sense of human sin and finiteness. But liberalism is (rightly in my view) oriented to the future. We look to the past for guidance, but we are journeying together toward the future--not wanting a return to a past that wasn't as good as remembered.
There may be other principles that could be added--and liberals have certainly often made mistakes or had blind spots.  Political liberalism is a tradition--and this is the U.S. strand of that tradition. Traditions are, as the decidedly non-liberal Alasdair MacIntyre reminds us, arguments or conversations over time.  For better and worse, this is tradition in which I stand in the American story.

Originally posted to SouthernLeveller on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 06:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (37+ / 0-)

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 06:24:28 PM PST

  •  Some may notice (11+ / 0-)

    that I have said nothing about war and peace matters.

    I am a pacifist, but I don't think these things track on a "conservative to liberal spectrum." There are conservative pacifists and liberal hawks.  

    My pacifism is rooted in my particular take on Christian faith, deeply influenced by Anabaptists and Quakers.  Of course, my faith also influences my political liberalism, but less directly, and mixed with more non-religious sources.

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:03:54 PM PST

    •  SLeveller, this is stunning. (12+ / 0-)

      Thank you so much for this articulation. I was not surprised to see your follow-up comment on your pacifism as nearly everything you discuss fits beautifully in under the overarching sky of shalom, a vision of peace that is defined by wellbeing and equity, enough for all, not merely absence of overt conflict. Will you do another diary on this? I would very much like to hear more!

      I also love the way you put this:

      But there are limits:  If one's religion demands human sacrifice, concern for the common good must trump that.  One's religious convictions cannot be exercised to the degree that they represent a threat to others' wellbeing.
      That smacked me between the eyes as I thought, of course! this is why I am so aghast at right wing religious groups who in the most literal way do demand human sacrifice in their disregard of others' needs; they do represent direct threat to the wellbeing of others in a literally life-denying way.

      I live in Tanzania which should be a must-see country for anyone interested in the long-term consequences of current American conservatism; it is a glorious hash of corruption, a seeming inability to change, unenforced regulation, crony capitalism and disregard for the environment. There are many positive things here as well, but even as a starry-eyed development volunteer I have to say that the future is bleak.

      There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

      by oslyn7 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:00:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sad to hear about Tanzania's problems. Good for (0+ / 0-)

        you doing that volunteer work.

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:35:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My visits (0+ / 0-)

        to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and what is now South Sudan showed me very similar trends, sadly.

        "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

        by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:31:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If I may add... (10+ / 0-)

    The government's authorization to make trade agreements is provided by the voters and not the corporations lobbying them.  The people have a right to know what these trade agreements consist of and they deserve for the agreements themselves to be in the people's best interest.  I believe in FAIR trade agreements that have minimum standards for workers (such as minimum wages and health protections) and regulations for corporations (such as environmental regulations and taxation).  

    The agreement should include trade deficit leveling features to ensure that neither country is harmed by the agreement like if the trade deficit grows beyond a given percentage (say 10%) there may be a 2% tariff applied to the trade surplus products until the trade is balanced.  If the deficit grows to 20%, the tariff can grow to 4% and so on.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:15:36 PM PST

    •  I'll definitely agree to this. (3+ / 0-)

      I didn't intend to articulate a position on every topic, but just to outline basic principles of (my version of) political liberalism.

      I am definitely a Fair Trader, not a free trader.

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:32:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would add (12+ / 0-)

    We are our brother's keeper because we live in the same country on the same planet.  We are all in this together.

    Further I would add to your "good ol' days" statement that those days--usually the 1950s-- weren't good for anyone but white men. Women were kicked out of the workplace even if they wanted to woek to give jobs to returning soldiers. Women were expected to stay home and make babies--Phyllis Chesler's book Womren and Madness and Betty Friedan's  The Feminine Mystique embody the boredom, frustration and depression felt by educated women who weren't allowed to use their education.  There were a lot of quiet alcoholics and ladies on Valium in those pretty suburban houses. And if you did get a job, you were [paid less than a similarly qualified man because YOU weren't supporting a family--even if you were (divorce was high in the '50s; you just had fake evidence of adultery to get one).

    It wasn't exactly fun for African Americans who couldn't vote let alone go to an integrated school or college. Imagine being one of the Tuskegee airmen and being told when you got home that you  had to pay a poll tax or take literacy test to vote. If you wanted to use your G.I. Bill money to go to college, your choice was limited because many schools were Whites Only.

    Yeah, a real fun time for everyone--so long as they were white and male.

    Conservativism is really about keeping power in the hands of those who already have it.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:08:48 PM PST

    •  I can sign my name (4+ / 0-)

      to everything you said, Irish Witch. And I love your sig line.

      My parents were bit players in the Civil Rights movement and my mother was a feminist. I remember those days vividly.

      I was not claiming that the nostalgia for "the good ol' days" entailed an accurate picture. I was bypassing that question to address  the very problem with longing for a (repristinated) past rather than forging a better future.

      It is the attitude the Bunkers sang about, "Those Were the Days," but the lyrics were ridiculous: NO, we couldn't use a man like Herbert Hoover in the White House,  again! :-)

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:38:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another thank-you (5+ / 0-)

    to the Rescue Rangers!
      I seem fated to diary things that initially escape notice--except their watchful eyes.  Thanks for putting me in the Community Spotlight. I have been offline at my night job and I come back to this nice surprise.

    Hopefully, this sparks some interesting discussion.

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:28:28 AM PST

  •  What are you--some kinda LIBBURUL? (4+ / 0-)

    I'll never forgive the GIPPER for making that word an epithet.

    What I don't understand is why so many of the principles listed here are repugnant to so many people. I'm not nearly as liberal as people think; for example, I bow to no one in my contempt for those who game the system and feel that society, that amorphous concept, exists to support them, so they can do whatever they wish, and others will clean up their messes.

    Even so, I usually err on the side of compassion (which isn't to say I don't want to give a piece of my mind and the back of my hand to a whole lot of folks.) I'm not a tree-hugger, but am appalled by the wanton rape of the planet. And so on. Where do the ones who don't give a rip about conservation, or protecting the weak, get their views? Certainly not from Jesus, whom they claim to follow.

  •  Important diary, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    supenau, Simplify, Gorette, blueoasis

    when it comes to compassion I might want to add something about capital punishment. I stand against capital punishment because I feel that as individuals and as a society, we are damaged and diminished when we are driven by revenge.

    I don't think that every person can change for the better or that every person "deserves" compassion and human forgiveness, but compassion is too important a guiding principle for the state, which btw is us, to act out of vengeance.

    •  I have been fighting the death penalty (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Swedish liberal, Simplify, Gorette

      since my teens in the '70s.  Compassion may have much to do with it. As Sister Jean Prejean says, "All of us are more than the worst thing we've ever done."

      But I think my early opposition was rooted in a strong awareness of human error: the possibilities of executing the innocent by mistake are just too great.  I think this is why, after decades of the pro-death penalty forces winning everything, we are seeing victories on the anti-death penalty side:  The advent of DNA testing and the constant drip, drip, drip of people released after decades on death row because DNA cleared them, has made it much harder for people to pretend that we only execute the guilty.

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:57:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like what you said about growing up in the (4+ / 0-)

    South and being opposed to segregation.

    Our family was constantly threatened by the Klan in Virginia after my parents started supporting Martin Luther King and marching in the Selma March. Just could not believe the hatred in the South. It was as if the Civil War was never fought.

    Fighting Liberal at
    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” --Gandhi:

    by smokey545 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:06:07 AM PST

    •  It's not that the South (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife, cjtjc, Gorette

      hasn't fought the Civil War, but that it has never STOPPED fighting it.  

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:59:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My own liberal credo (4+ / 0-)

    Which I borrowed.

    "Everybody counts or nobody counts."  

    LAPD detective Harry Bosch.

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:36:06 AM PST

  •  spectacular, SL (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, Gorette

    so glad this was rescued

    thanks rescue rangers for spotlighting this amazing gem

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 07:14:45 AM PST

  •  Oh yes I am a liberal and I count it (3+ / 0-)

    as a badge of honor.   There were and still really bad names for southern liberals....I know.. I have heard most directed right at me and when people couldn't change me..we just had no common ground and feel no need to be around one another any more... I feel you can't fix stupid but Lord I keep trying,

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 07:53:48 AM PST

  •  Indeed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette
    (Why do conservatives never want to conserve anything?)
    Well, perhaps "anything" beyond their own sense of superiority, pompous religiosity, privilege, and frequently ill-gained fortunes.
  •  Liberalism as sentiment-not-policy ... (0+ / 0-)

    Having said this:

    In this sense of orientation, rather than ideology, all societies need both conservatives and liberals--in order to avoid chaos or dissolution any period of rapid or massive change needs to be offset or balanced by a period of "normalcy" or rest or regrouping.  A society will have good things that need to be preserved from the past as a heritage and those of conservative orientation are the champions of such heritage and tradition.
    There's really no need to say more:

     We have Freedom of Religion in this country.  Everyone can worship their own godz, their own way, with their own myths and stories -- and as long as their practices that grow out of these ideas aren't too destructive ...  no one else gets  an opinion on our opinions.

    But once we start thinking of actually PROMOTING those opinions ... like, maybe because we think they are RIGHT ... then politics and partisanship become    necessary.  

    And that's not the way "to have everyone love us."

    •  It depends on how one "promotes" one's views (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Swedish liberal, cjtjc, Gorette

      I'm promoting my political views in this diary. I'm trying to do so by persuasion, not coercion.

      Similarly, promoting one's religious views by means of persuasion is perfectly compatible with liberal democracy. It is when one uses the state mechanisms of coercion to promote them that problems begin.

      No, not everyone will love us. I get annoyed when people try to convert me at times when I'm busy.  I don't particularly like having Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons show up at my door. But as long as they leave when I politely say that I'm uninterested, I have no reason to complain. (They are less annoying that the telephone sales calls that won't stop no matter how many "no call" lists one is on!)

      I disapprove of a government "office of faith based initiatives." I think it's unconstitutional. I disapprove of vouchers for religious schools.  I think the ruling that employers' religious views about contraception could AT ALL apply to their employees' health insurance coverage is insane. (If my employer was a Jehovah's Witness, could s/he deny coverage for blood transfusions?)

      But promotion by persuasion is not only integral to the "free exercise" clause of the 1st Amendment, but to the Free Speech clause, too.  

      I read books all the time by atheists trying to persuade me that their views are correct.  They haven't done so, yet, and I can't conceive of their doing so, but they still have the right to try. If they think their view is RIGHT and that my view is not only wrong, but harmful (and many atheists believe all religious views are harmful), then they may have a moral DUTY to try to persuade me and as many others as they can of the rightness of their positions.

      That is not a threat to liberal democracy. Nor is it if persons of faith use the same methods of persuasion.

      A rabbi once told me that he didn't care that a particular person didn't like Jews. He only considered a person an anti-Semite if they tried to discriminate against Jews using the power of government.  It isn't necessary for a well-functioning multi-cultural democracy that everyone LIKE everyone else, or even every GROUP. That's utopian. We only need to grant that each individual and group has the same EQUAL RIGHTS and protections.

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:42:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think everyone "here" is already pretty much (0+ / 0-)

        persuaded that Money Isn't Speech, People Are More Important Than Profits ... and so on and so on and so on.

        It's the "let's be nicer and fairer to Conservatives, because ..."   (I'm afraid I don't quite get what the "because" is ) ...  that sort of puts me off my feed.

        If it makes you feel better about yourself -- wonderful.  It harms no one. And expressed among Liberals, it persuades no one of anything except what a nice person you are.  

        Maybe that was whole  the point in the first place?

        •  Not a very generous comment, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gorette

          I think it's always good to put your belief system into words, it forces you to be concrete and to "meet" yourself.

          And when S.L. publishes the text here he helps others do the same, how could that not be a good and worthwhile endeavour?

        •  I agree with Swedish liberal's comment. Have (0+ / 0-)

          you not seen the call for diaries such as this, explaining how we got to be liberals? I think it is well and good, and is not done to prove we are "nice" people, but to explain the roots of our political views.

          Maybe some day you will publish your own excellent diary?

          "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

          by Gorette on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:51:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Uh, no. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          furiouschads

          I want to be able to persuade others by articulating liberal principles CLEARLY. I also think that our candidates would be more persuasive if they quit only talking "policy wonk speak," and spoke in the language of moral persuasion. It's how we reclaim the discredited term "liberal," and how we convince the majority of Americans that they really are liberal (as polls on particular policies seem to show) and vote accordingly (which happens only in a haphazard manner).

          I can attack the rightwing with the best of them when I need to do so.  I know how to take on adversaries.

          But there are lots of disengaged, low information voters, who need to be engaged and persuaded.  We need to find how to be more articulate in the way we do this.

          Yes, I'm talking to the converted here, but I hope feedback helps me in talking to the unconverted.

          "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

          by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:41:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  IOW, we need to discard one-sided pragmatism (0+ / 0-)

            Liberals, and especially Democrats, have gotten pulled into citing pragmatic reasons for advocating what they advocate, i.e., "if we do this thing, it will make things better." And that means defining "better" in some abstract way, by looking at the non-human entities for which they think need things to work better (usually, "the economy," or "the unemployment rate," or whatever. Never making things better for unemployed PEOPLE, you know. Because the unemployment rate doesn't distinguish between crappy exploitative jobs and good sustaining jobs.) But here, look, we're data driven so we have authoritativeness.

            I suspect the reason they've done this is in pursuit of the mythical "smart pragmatic independent voter" who supposedly doesn't care about "ideology" and only cares about "getting results." Those people may not exist in the numbers that are assumed, but when they do exist they are the people like my trader relatives who grouse about all the problems that "Obama has caused" by messing with things, completely ignoring the fact that their little micro-world swimming in mega-money is completely dependent upon a society that allows it to operate and is willing to put up with the real costs it extracts from the rest of the participants in our social world.

            In the process, the Very Serious Liberal People courting these Smart Pragmatic Independent Voters have gotten away from articulating any values at all, except maybe on the Democratic party website, which no one reads, least of all "independent voters."

            So you get wonks trying to refute David Brooks when he says drily that "central planning doesn't work, and vibrant markets do." Yawn. Angels on the head of a pin.

            And in the meantime, the current crop of conservatives trumpet that they are the only ones who care about values, which they are all too willing to provide - in the form of prejudices and smears about vast swaths of the population. Which is why I want to suppress a gag reflex whenever I hear the name "Values Voter Summit." So let's run purely on what WE believe. Not what we believe will work, or what we believe will "make this better." But that we believe because we're god damn HUMAN BEINGS, for crying out loud.

            Oh, and those Smart Pragmatic Independent Voters are probably more mythical than real, and the people who actually decide the vote are too often the low-information voters you mention. Who decide based on who looks better, or who they'd rather have a beer with.

            •  Not either/or but both/and (0+ / 0-)

              I think we run on our moral values AND our pragmatic solutions. We need to show that our solutions flow FROM our values.

              "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

              by SouthernLeveller on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 03:31:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Highly recommended! Thank you for (0+ / 0-)

    dealing with the south and desegregation. I found that part, your parents' youth, especially interesting, for as a Northerner during that period I did not know anything about southern liberals.

    Hmm. When I came home from college with Karl Marx on a book spine my poor mom thought I was becoming a communist, just from that single thing! Despite my explanation that my course in political science required understanding of the range of theory, she still hated my reading that. Of course, the fact that I lost my faith at that time may have added to her fears. heh. But really, the fact that people today still have such a fear is very sad. This comes pretty much from the evangelical attitude that the bible must be believed literally, every word, or you'll end up in hell.

    From the time I was a young teenager I would answer the question, "What do you want to do with your life?" with: "Something that calls for progress." So I was an early Progressive, called myself Liberal from then on, based mainly on the values of Justice and Compassion.

    It must be difficult to write something where you have so many considerations of topics. Well done.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:31:28 AM PST

    •  Well, as I explained in (0+ / 0-)

      my first DKos diary on how I became a Democrat, we were from an evangelical tradition that did NOT emphasize biblical inerrancy or literalism, but the "Faith seeking social justice" tradition of the Social Gospel.

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:46:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Every time I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dom Segundo

    leave the computer for awhile (I have no smartphone, I-pad, etc.), more interest arises in my diary. Cool.

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:24:01 PM PST

    •  Good on You! (0+ / 0-)

      In baking bread, allowing time for the must to develop is critical for having a superior crust.

      The moment you pick up the clay you become a demiurge, and he who embarks on the creation of worlds is already tainted with corruption and evil. (-8.7,-9.3)

      by Dom Segundo on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:45:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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