When dreams could be held through TV
We had Disney, and Cronkite, and Martin Luther
And, I believed, I believed . . . I BELIEVED
It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go
Words & Music by Nanci Griffith
© 1989 Ponder Heart Music/Irving Music Inc. (BMI)
Whenever I hear the above song and those lyrics in particular, I reaffirm my belief in Liberal ideals. Not only did I believe in the sixties, I continue to believe to this day. If you have similar feelings, then welcome brother or sister because you are a proud Liberal in your heart. The Conservatives of today have been able to frame the issues of today through inference instead of fact. Any ideas or thoughts that run counter to their extreme views are labeled “Liberal.” This labeling is no better than the red baiting of the fifties and sixties where labeling something “Communist” was the preferred method. We must examine the meat of issues not just the exterior. We cannot allow our body politic to become so A.D.D. that everything is boiled down to 5 or 10 second sound clips.
At the top of this blog, there is an excerpt of a speech that then Senator John F. Kennedy gave to the New York state convention of the Liberal Party. It was his acceptance of their nomination for President. This was in the days when Ronald Reagan was just a grade B movie star hosting “Death Valley Days.” The word and title “Liberal” was NOT something that politicians felt they had to avoid at all costs, as they do today.
Politicians like Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry may have been better served by embracing their Liberal roots. Instead, they chose to disguise themselves behind a smoke screen. This allowed their opponents to energize the anti-Liberal vote without giving the Liberals a chance to bring out the vote from their base. Clinton succeeded so well in being the least Liberal Democrat in recent memory; one might wonder why the Neo-Cons were so hell bent on destroying him. That is only until we examine the current administration. The current regime is so far to the right that Abby Hoffman and Barry Goldwater would appear to be political clones. Clinton represented a moderate force that the Republicans had little chance of using their smear campaign of “He’s a Liberal,” with any efficacy. Clinton could and did straddle the middle better than anybody around.
Here in unabridged form is the part of JFK’s speech where he addressed being labeled “Liberal.”
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label, “Liberal”? If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But, if by a “Liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, 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 that 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 that I'm a “Liberal.”