There is no nationwide Liberal Party in the United States. So, when we think about what a liberal is, and what a liberal is not, in the USA, we should think about ideology, rather than that party loyalty.
A liberal is someone who supports liberal ideals: Peace, human rights, constitutional freedoms, eradication of the corrupt influence of corporations in American politics. That definition sounds obvious.
The problem is that many liberals aren’t liberals any more.
These days, many people who call themselves “liberal” support downright anti-liberal policies. In fact, a large number of people who describe themselves as “liberal” now support some of the most radically right wing policies of George W. Bush.
This sad new political reality is reflected in a new poll by the Washington Post. The poll finds that 53 percent of people who call themselves “liberal Democrats” support keeping the unconstitutional, extralegal prison at Guantanamo Bay open. 55 percent of these self-described “liberal Democrats” support allowing the President to perform long-distance executions of American citizens without criminal trial.
Glenn Greenwald calls this turn of “liberal Democrat” opinion to embrace the policies begun by George W. Bush “repulsive” – and he’s right. Greenwald is also correct in identifying the reason for the great liberal flip flop: Barack Obama has embraced these Bush policies, and many people who like to call themselves “liberal” really don’t have any ideology. They just love Barack Obama, and so they figure that if Barack Obama does something, it must be okay.
These people aren’t liberals. They’re blind partisans. They’re followers. They’re fans. They treat politics as if it’s a football game. They’ve decided that they support the Democratic team, and whatever the leaders of the Democratic team tell them is right, they will believe is right.
This lazy attitude is so low that it isn’t even immoral. It’s absolutely amoral.
Now, before I go too far, I want to make it clear that I do not believe that there is no difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. There is a significant difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The biggest difference, however, seems to be that Democrats think whatever Democratic Party leaders tell them to think, while Republicans think whatever Republican Party leaders tell them to think.
Liberals are supposed to be against the corrupt influence of corporate power in elections. Now, though, Barack Obama has openly invited corporate-run Super PACs to make independent expenditures of money that comes from nobody-knows-where on his behalf. So, many liberals are praising Obama’s move, saying that it shows that he’s strong.
Liberals are supposed to be against Presidents ignoring congressional authority and declaring war whenever they want to. Once Barack Obama did it, though, too many liberals rushed to defend Obama’s action, saying that anyone who thins that Presidents couldn’t take the nation off to war on a whim is an idiot.
Liberals are supposed to be environmentalists. But, when Barack Obama announced that he wouldn’t even try to pass legislation to deal with climate change, many liberals clapped loudly, saying, “President Obama sure is good at that long game!” When Barack Obama declared that he would expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, even though there are no new regulations from Congress to protect us against the kind of massive disaster that took place when the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig exploded, large numbers of Democrats willingly pretended that they had no idea that the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history had taken place less than two years ago.
What about the rest of us? What about the minority of “liberals” who actually are liberal? We’re frustrated. We’re depressed. A lot of the time, we don’t know what to do. Sometimes, we feel like we just want to throw in the towel, and give up, because there’s no hope, and nobody that we can believe in, and nothing we can do.
But deep in our hearts, we know that’s BULLSHIT.
Here’s What We DO:
We replace our despair with anger, and we grow a backbone.
We rip that Barack Obama bumper sticker off the car. We toss that Barack Obama campaign button in the garbage. We throw that Barack Obama tshirt on a campfire and piss on it while it burns.
Then, we pick someone better. There are two good, really good, liberal choices this year: Their names are Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson. Both are running for President. Pick one to support. Support both, if you like.
Then, the next time you meet one of your “liberal” friends who starts talking about how wonderful Barack Obama is, you do not turn your head away sheepishly and change the subject of the conversation. You say to your friend, “I thought you were liberal, but I don’t understand how any liberal can support the terrible right wing policies that Barack Obama has been promoting. Many of them are the same policies that you told me you were against when George W. Bush promoted them. Why have you changed your values?”
Then, you pull a Rocky Anderson for President button or a Jill Stein for President button out of your pocket and you pin it on your chest.
You put a bumper sticker on your car for Stein or Anderson, too. You wear a tshirt to the protests that the Democrats don’t support anymore.
You hold a house party for Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, and you invite your liberal friends. You’ll find out which ones are liberal and which ones are “liberal”.
What you do is get active and stay active, because the fact is that being sad and silent about Barack Obama’s terrible embrace of right wing politics is just as bad as being an unthinking Obama loyalist.
For our country and for our world, we need better leadership than what Barack Obama is willing to offer. There’s only one way for us to get better leadership: We have to be better citizens.