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December 02, 2004

True Liberals

Many of my co-workers, not to mention the relatives, remain politely puzzled as to why I voted as I did in the November elections. Peter Beinhart of the New Republic does as good a job as any at explaining why.

"...American liberalism, as defined by its activist organizations, remains largely what it was in the 1990s--a collection of domestic interests and concerns. On health care, gay rights, and the environment, there is a positive vision, articulated with passion. But there is little liberal passion to win the struggle against Al Qaeda--even though totalitarian Islam has killed thousands of Americans and aims to kill millions; and even though, if it gained power, its efforts to force every aspect of life into conformity with a barbaric interpretation of Islam would reign terror upon women, religious minorities, and anyone in the Muslim world with a thirst for modernity or freedom."

I haven't seen any studies to support this--I wasn't able to locate any online that speak to the question one way or another--but I would be willing to bet that Bush's electoral victory wasn't due to increased turnout on the part of evangelicals or because of anti-gay voters. The 2004 victory instead came about because of people like me--former Gore 2000 voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for the newly soft-on-totalitarianism Democrats.*

The proper liberal critique for the war on Iraq isn't that we shouldn't be there--or even that we should never have gone. The proper liberal critique should be that we should have invaded Iraq sooner, and that we aren't doing enough there now. True liberals would have spent their time prior to the invasion recruiting Peace Corps-like volunteers for post-war Iraq rather than human shields for a brutal dictatorship. True liberals now would be demanding that the US do everything in its power--including militarily--to support the extension of basic human rights to countries other than Iraq and Afghanistan rather than wallowing in their supposed victimhood; countries like Myanmar, the Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, China and, yes, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

True liberals would demand that the US not only fight Al-Qaeda, but movements like the Lord's Resistance Army as well.

True liberals would rue the necessity and mourn mightily, but they would gladly trade 100,000** deaths for the chance to remove the chains of subjugation from 25 million others. True liberals have before, and they would shudder with disgust upon beholding those who have usurped their mantle.

If you, like Michael Moore, MoveOn.org, and Howard Dean, oppose America's current foreign policy because it's too much instead of not enough, stop referring to yourself as a liberal. You're not a liberal, you're an isolationist.

Do the rest of us liberals a favor and quit muddying the waters. Get over on Pat Buchanan's side, where you belong.

*In fact, if you are one of that breed, let me know in the comments. I'll total up the number of admissions, cross reference it against the Hraka readership numbers, and then innumerately apply that result to the electorate as a whole.

**Smart liberals would realize that the study citing the 100,000 deaths number was inherently flawed to begin with, but that's neither here nor there.

Posted by Bigwig at December 2, 2004 03:31 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

I don't recall hearing anything from Dean, MoveOn or Michael Moore while we were bombing Belgrade. I don't think they are isolationist. I think they are simply incapable of agreeing with a conservative on anything. (even if they secretly agree)

Republicans have become the embodiement of evil to these select few. Because of this, it is difficult to see that the differences between Conservative & Liberal are rather small here in the USA.

One example is gay marriage, liberals may be slightly for it, conservatives may be against it. I'm slightly conservative & I just don't care about it.

In the IslamoFascist world, the only debate on the subject is how to kill them.

Do you burry them up to their heads in a stadium and drive over them in a tractor. (Afghanistan before we invaded)

or

Do you stone them to death or simply cut their heads off. (Iran & Iraq)


Kinda puts the whole gay marriage thin in perspective.

Posted by: Sully at December 2, 2004 04:50 PM

I don't recall hearing anything from Dean, MoveOn or Michael Moore while we were bombing Belgrade. I don't think they are isolationist. I think they are simply incapable of agreeing with a conservative on anything. (even if they secretly agree)

Republicans have become the embodiement of evil to these select few. Because of this, it is difficult to see that the differences between Conservative & Liberal are rather small here in the USA.

One example is gay marriage, liberals may be slightly for it, conservatives may be against it. I'm slightly conservative & I just don't care about it.

In the IslamoFascist world, the only debate on the subject is how to kill them.

Do you burry them up to their heads in a stadium and drive over them in a tractor. (Afghanistan before we invaded)

or

Do you stone them to death or simply cut their heads off. (Iran & Iraq)


Kinda puts the whole gay marriage thing in perspective.

Posted by: Sully at December 2, 2004 04:50 PM

I've had the big D on my voter-registration card for thirty-three years now, and I voted for the Democratic presidential ticket seven times in a row. But I passed on Al Gore because I thought he was a bozo, and I pulled the lever for Bush this time because I thought John Kerry and his friends were somewhere between dangerous and insane.

And no, I'm not changing my registration. The Democrats left me.

Posted by: CGHill at December 2, 2004 08:31 PM

After 4 previous elections, this year I changed my D to an R. I, like CG Hill, felt that the Democratic party left me. Unlike CG though, I'm not going down with the ship. Like an out of control alcoholic, the Democratic party desperately needs an intervention. If by not being an enabler I can move this process along then so be it.

Posted by: niall at December 4, 2004 09:18 AM

I agree with you and Beinhart. And true liberals, need to start focusing now on Iran, a regime that oppresses everything liberals hold dear and that is trying to acquire nuclear weapons. If we really believe in liberal ideas, for all people not just ourselves, ideas like democracy, freedom of speech, seperation of church and state, women's rights, gay rights, etc. we need to starting acting and acting now. See my post

http://eclecticrefrig.blogspot.com/2004/12/call-to-arms.html for more reasons I think we need to do more, and some ideas of what can be done.

David

Posted by: David Leftwich at December 6, 2004 02:18 PM

What about being liberal implies that one must have taken leave of one's senses? What about liberalism means that a "liberal" may not consider what will work and count costs against benefits? What about a "liberal" means he must get Ramboed-up about every single pressing need in the world? Yeah, I wanna go to the Sudan. Yeah, I wanna change things in North Korea so everyone isn't starving there. And while I'm at it, I'd like to be taller, funnier, and look like Colin Farrell (sp?). But in the meantime, I gotta deal with the real world, and while it's nice to believe in fairy tales, there are grownups in the world who have to worry about what can be done.

Posted by: Tony the Pony at December 7, 2004 12:54 PM

If you want to change these things, whats your plan? doing nothing isn't much of a plan.

Posted by: Sully at December 7, 2004 03:24 PM

Tony, you didn't give conclusive evidence to show that Bush's policies are wrongheaded before you called liberal Bush voters insane, delusional, and juvenile. What do you think of a person who calls you insane, delusional and juvenile even when he is unable to produce evidence to that effect?

Anyways, the Karzai inauguration was nice. I'm looking forward to the upcoming elections in Iraq. I hope my little sons someday join the Marines and liberate people like our boys did in those two countries. I tried to enlist in the Guard, but they wouldn't take me because I'm too old. (Don't tell their grandmother these things. She tried to raise me to be "anti-war," whatever that means.)

Posted by: Jim at December 7, 2004 03:55 PM

As I read your comments on TNR, I kept thinking of Randy Newman's song, Political Science. "Let's drop the big one." Boom goes China, boom Paree, boom goes London...

You place tremendous faith in our ability to know and to trust our desires to intervene virtually anywhere and everywhere. In my opinion, you propose acting on the implicit assumption that God is on "our side."

I am impressed, however, with your suggestion that we should have been preparing Peace Corps-style volunteers to deploy in Iraq after the invasion. Any sort of post-invasion planning would have been better than Bush's active rejection of planning, but I particularly like the notion of an intervention other than purely military. (I do not include among those alternatives a corporate, KBR/Halliburton expeditionary force.)

There are so many ways to exert a positive influence in the world other than military. "smart" as our bombs may be, they nevertheless continue to slaughter innocents. In a day of satellite news and instantaneous communication, the bloodied bodies of those killed as collateral are beamed across the globe into millions of homes where the viewers somehow remain convinced of our inherent American goodness.

Daily the evidence is clearer that we have done far more damage than good with our ham-handed, boorish invasion. CIA reports and multiple international polls affirm my belief that Bush's go-it-alone missionary zeal is an expression of American exceptionalism at its worst.

I fear your proposals are "liberal" only in the pejorative sense of spending money and using governmental power wantonly in a misguided, do-gooder enterprise.

Posted by: Bookdude53 at December 7, 2004 08:26 PM

Daily the evidence is clearer that we have done far more damage than good....

Well, let's hear the evidence. And don't forget to address the amount of muder, mayhem, and misery the Husseins would have perpetrated on their people over the next thirty years.

Accusing your opponents of religious zealotry and delusions of inherent goodness are red herrings.

Where's the beef? Demostrate that liberating Iraq from murderous fascism was wrong.

Posted by: Jim at December 8, 2004 08:13 AM

There's a well-written article in the current New Yorker by Louis Menand, looking at the election and showing that, as you maintain in your letter, "moral values" did not drive the re-election of Bush. It was people who trust only him to run the war on terror plus a few percentage points of others.

Posted by: Fran at December 8, 2004 04:39 PM
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