Sunday, March 20, 2005

Defining Liberal Principles

Following the election there has been considerable discussion among liberals as to clarifying what it is that Democrats believe. I believe we are in the process of a realignment and redefinition of the meanings of liberal versus conservative. We've seen the south move from being solidly Democratic to solidly Republican. With socialistic economic theories being discredited in practice, the old definitions based upon economics have eroded, with many of the strongest proponents of capitalism now being on the left while many on the right, including the current GOP leadership, have abandoned support for the free enterprise system and small government in their practices if not rhetoric. Social issues have become the more meaningful distinguishing features of the two parties, with church attendance (or lack of attendance) being the best predictor of an individual's vote.

With many people working on statements of principles for which Democrats and liberals stand, one group I found of interest was The Principles Project which is working on a 500 word statement of principles. While not affiliated with the Democratic party, an article in the Washington Post does show these connections: The honorary co-chairmen are Reps. Harold E. Ford Jr. (Tenn.) and Janice D. Schakowsky (Ill.), as well as David Wilhelm, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) sent the group a letter of support, saying that "an effort like this can help us better define shared commitments."

Their statement stresses principles such as defending dignity based upon the belief that all men are created equal. They endorse strengthening democracy by measures such as transparency and tireless vigilance against corruption and abuses of power. They support promoting progress, including innovation and entrepreneurship along with cultivating the arts and science, and ensuring a quality education for everyone. They note that America’s security requires an effective military, as well as commitment to enduring alliances, and stress the importance of preserving our belief in democracy and human rights in pursuit of global objectives.

While there are items I would have stated differently, it is a good start at a cohesive statement of general principles which most liberals could support. With the right wing noise machine regularly dominating the media with their hatred, opposition to progress and science, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and blind support for a government which becomes increasingly more intrusive in our lives, it is important to have such clear statements of an opposing viewpoint.

Kerry Sticks to Liberal Values at Kennedy Library Foundation Award
The Era of Big Government is Back--Under George Bush
The Rights of the Individual vs. The State
Liberalism Is A Demanding Faith


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