“But if by ‘Liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind; someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reaction; someone who cares about the welfare of the people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad; if that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal, then I’m proud to say I am a Liberal.” –John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960
I’ve always been somewhat hesitant about describing myself as a “Liberal”. It’s not that I’m running from the word, as so many Progressives seem to be doing these days; it’s just that I’ve never been fond of labels. I like to think of myself as a measured thinker. In fact culturally I am very conservative. For example I don’t care for obscene jokes or dirty comedians (Andrew Dice Clay didn’t have a molecule of talent), I’ve never had a stomach for pornography, and I despise so-called “gangsta rap”.
Although I am dead-set against an amendment to the Constitution which would outlaw the burning of the flag, I’ve always felt it to be a stupid and infantile form of protest. And here’s a fact that will probably floor you: My favorite singer is Bing Crosby. I always tell people in “the movement” if they really knew how conservative I really am they’d be surprised – and maybe even a little appalled!
But, politically – socially – I am an incurable, unapologetic Lefty. And why should I apologize – and to whom? Woman and blacks would not have the right to vote, the South would still be segregated, and the dying middle class would never even have come into being had the right wing had their way. Although I don’t march in lock-step with the Liberals on every single issue, when push comes to shove I really am one of them.
I love America. I am compelled (even obliged) to tell you this because, as most of you are probably aware, people like me are always accused of hating their country. And the irony is that this judgment is usually made by people who lack even a remedial understanding of this nation’s history. Whenever some fool implies that I am less-than-patriotic I always counter with a single question:
Who was president during World War One?
As of this writing, two people (out of a hundred or so) have been able to answer that question correctly. Geniuses. Being accused of “hating America” by people who are unable to give an accurate reply to such a basic, History 101 question is beyond amusing. It really makes me wonder.
Conservative writer Peggy Noonan once described Dan Rather – the scourge of most right wingers – as the most patriotic man she ever knew. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Most people who would place themselves to the left of the center of the political map really do love America. We really are patriots. Honest!
I myself tend to get a little misty-eyed whenever I hear a really good orchestration of John Phillip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever or America the Beautiful – which should be our National Anthem by the way. The Star Spangled Banner is a really stupid little tune and it is impossible to sing. Or maybe we can replace it with Irving Berlin’s God Bless America. Given our obsession with the military industrial complex, references to “bombs bursting in air” is just a tad unsettling. That’s just a subversive liberal thought on my part. Pay it no mind.
Many of us who tend to lean leftwards are sick and tired of being accused of disloyalty by our nutty friends on the right. Sarah Palin loves to talk about “real Americans” and “real America”. To her narrow mind, the fact that I come from the state of New York and that I believe that government has a responsibility to provide certain safety nets proves that my professed love of country is somehow suspect. I have no other choice but to quote Keith Olbermann “That woman is an idiot.”
My uncle Ed Degan was born in Brooklyn on December 23, 1920. He was a devout Liberal and a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. He died in the Battle of the Bulge on December 15, 1944. Today his broken body lies at a military cemetery in France. I won’t tell you how he felt about his country. I don’t need to. Or do I….
Those in the extreme right who like to pretend that they’ve cornered the market on patriotism need to be exposed for what they are – ideological snake oil salesmen. All we have to do is open our eyes to see the damage that their thirty-year domination of our political conversation has done to this country. I’m almost at the point of believing that that damage is irreparable. At this writing, every poll indicates that the electorate intends on putting the party responsible for most of the mess we’re in back in power on Election Day. Isn’t that nice? Have another sip, America.
This country is in dire need of a long-overdue lesson in history. The evidence is there and cannot be “refutiated”. When our government was being run by progressive leaders, we did alright. When it was controlled by conservatives, they ran the economy into the ground. Look it up.
I love America. It’s her so-called “leaders” that I loath with a passion I can’t even describe.
Suggested Reading: Remembering America by Richard Goodwin