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March 4, 2005

Liberal karaoke

Posted by Phil on March 4, 2005 10:00 AM

Sometimes it's just nice to hear an old favorite; this time from Digby. (Tiny edits for clarity.)

The difference between Republicans and Democrats isn't about who cares more for the people. All politicians say they care about the people, and the people are always justifiably skeptical. The difference between us is how we believe the good of the people is best achieved, and liberals have a fundamentally different philosophy than the Republicans. Government is our preferred method to advance progressive ideals. Capitalism cannot substitute for a democratic government that answers to all the people. The invisible hand doesn't give a shit if children starve or old people have to work until they are eighty or if half the country has to work at slave wages to support the other half. Only government can guarantee its citizens the equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that progress toward that end requires that the government be active and engaged in delivering those things.

We are at parity, politically speaking, but liberalism is clinging by its fingernails to a vague definition of itself as a collection of policies favoring light regulation, balanced budgets, the last vestiges of the New Deal, and certain individual rights. [An] American conservative consensus is not far away if we continue to abdicate our responsibility to forcefully articulate the role of government in a meaningful, understandable way, and convey in no uncertain terms the danger to average Americans when they put their faith in free market evangelism and phony appeals to patriotism and religion.

Truly, this is the core issue. Republicans have spent 40 years smearing the government as a blundering, wasteful oppressor whose only useful functions are the defense of capital and property and the shifting of revenue to military contractors. (See here for how seriously they take their vaunted "moral values.")

In fact, the American government is the only institution we have that is of, by, and for us. Ask anyone whose job or air or water or housing or healthcare has been sacrificed to the bottom line if markets and corporations are "for" us. Markets and corporations are, at best, absolutely and necessarily indifferent.

There's going to have to be some pain, I think, before people remember the simple American premise--and promise--that government can be good for something. That pain will be--it is always--felt more severely, traumatically, and, in the case of the environment, perhaps irreversibly by those to whose interests the corporate politicians are indifferent.

I'm no revolutionary, myself. Hell, I'd settle for another Eisenhower. But the center cannot hold. The only question is which way the mass will tilt when it goes. Here we get back into the spooky stuff (see previous entry).