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December 08, 2011


Daniel Dashman

The problem is within the term "Liberals." Liberals are not progressives. Liberals are those who see it in their own best interest to be a little bit to the Left of Center. The Center though is not stable. It moves. Currently, it has moved far to the Right. So, Liberals are actually to the Right of the Center we grew up with. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for the kind of criticism and disagreement we have seen splitting the Democratic Party. It also frustrates many who see "Liberals" supporting policies that are regressive. There are large issues that need to be addressed, but they cannot be dealt with until we change the economics of the situation. Remember, Liberals applauded the forward thinking of President Clinton when he removed the restrictions put in place by Roosevelt.

And here is the difference, Progressives did not applaud. In fact they were appalled. What we now call "Conservatives" are actually to the Right of the Reactionaries of Barry Goldwater's day (could he even be a Republican today?). Liberals are where Conservatives were. The purported Progressives have reacted by going even farther Left becoming the Radicals of today. What remains is this vast tract of people who believe in fiscal austerity, control of the rapacity of Wall Street, yet also believe in unemployment insurance, universal healthcare (single payer), personal freedom for control of a woman's body, paring back the Defense Department, education for all, etc. They are unrepresented and constitute what Nixon used to call the Silent Majority.

The term of Liberal has always had a funny taste for me, since I participated in an anti-war march at age 14. One of the performers before I was selected to be one of the four to carry the petition to Congress, was Phil Ochs. I had never heard of him. He had a sheet of lined paper torn from a spiral binder and asked Pete Seeger to hold it for him as he had only written the words the night before. The song was "Love Me I'm A Liberal." A scathing attack on the shifting group that criticizes all attempts to make change that might be the slightest bit uncomfortable. The personalities referenced are nearly 50 years old, but the issues are uncannily the same.

So, personally, I work to protect workers and organize more of them. I do my best to analyze issues and situations remembering Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan's biting observation that "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts."

I applaud President Obama's successes and there are many. I regret his failures and there are many of those also. But, I recognize the salient fact, which is that whether he has succeeded or failed he has tried and that is more than almost anyone else has done.

All my best.

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