Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Why I am disappointed--a response to Chris

I will tell you why I am disappointed in the outcome. Actually, I was disappointed before the misleading first exit poll was released. I am disappointed in the death of liberalism in this country. Liberals used to be about big ideas, including everyone, and building for the future. Now it is an arrow in the quiver of the conservatives that needs no compliment to be effective. Bush called Kerry a "liberal" and Kerry simply tried to say that he was not, he never tried to defend liberalism.

But there is so much to defend.

FDR was a Liberal. He built massive highway systems, dams, and created the institutional infrastructure needed for our government to adapt to the 20th and 21st century. And he wasn't soft on anything. He defeated Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan--AT THE SAME TIME! And he picked his battles. He did not launch a full-scale invasion of mainland Japan or into Berlin a month after Pearl Harbor. He took his time, plotted, and worked with allies. And he asked for sacrifices from Americans. After Pearl Harbor, he promised American consumers rationing and American businesses the militarization of their factories. And for America's young men, he promised them conscription and war. And he got them to gladly make those sacrifices, by asking them to believe in something bigger than themselves, and by ensuring that the cause was not only just, but the right one. And by being deliberate, thoughtful, reflective, and careful in orchestrating the execution. There are other liberals to be proud of (JFK, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln (the latter two were "liberals" in the contemporary sense, despite their party affiliation--times have changed)), but I think this illustrates the point.

Being a liberal, for me, means believing that the quintessential American values are respect for minority rights and collective sacrifice for the betterment of the society as a whole. It means believing that what makes this country great has been its ability to achieve those goals by harnessing the natural power the free market not its ability to produce a free market (which any economist will tell you would organize itself anyhow). I think that sort of grand vision is dead, or at least on life support. We are no longer the "land of hope and promise," we are the "Home of the Whopper." That is why I am disappointed.


Blogger Chris said...

Just a nitpicky thing -- wasn't it Eisenhower in the 50s who helped kickstart the National Highway system? I don't recall FDR having anything to do with it . . .

November 4, 2004 at 12:05 AM  

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