- Feb 3, 2003
Great piece from the new book by Joe Conason.
Yet the propagandists of the right are still too quick to brand America "conservative." Despite decades of angry denigration of liberalism, the American people continue to uphold the same ideals that have always been identified with the progressive tradition, from Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Americans believe in fairness, equality, opportunity, and compassion; they reject social Darwinism and excessive privilege.
What do liberals stand for? Their adversaries constantly accuse them of elitism, political correctness, immorality, socialism, communism, even treason. These are standard-issue lies from the right-wing propaganda arsenal. Liberalism is an American philosophy that encompasses a broad variety of ideas -- yet is probably more coherent than the current brand of conservatism, which ranges from atheist libertarianism to theocratic fundamentalism.
The most basic liberal values are political equality and economic opportunity. Liberals uphold democracy as the only form of government that derives legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and they regard the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights as essential to the expression of popular consent. Their commitment to an expanding democracy is what drives liberal advocacy on behalf of women, minorities, gays, immigrants, and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.