Is it possible to be a tough liberal?
After 911, many Gore voters said they felt better about George Bush because he would handle terrorism more effectively-- that Republicans were tougher in a war situation-- that democrats, particularly liberals, are not so tough, even wimpy.
Americans are still scared and angry and they need to know that their leaders are doing something about the new, more dangerous world the fundamentalist Islamists have created.
Al Gore, though he lost the election, pulled together a majority of voters. That majority can do great things and bring about changes from the current, Republican led status quo. It 's going to take strong, tough leaders making difficult choices on what issues to emphasize if that "Gore" majority is going to be brought together in a way that empowers change which makes a difference.
We must answer the American public 's need for confidence-- that strong, effective solutions are being developed and implemented. We have to show that we have those solutions and that they are not only tough, but better and smarter and kinder. This is not easy.
We need leaders who will voice tough, left wing, democratic strategies and positions. Peace rallies won 't stop the terrorists or the mullahs teaching hate in the madrassas. Both Republicans and Democrats seem to be silent on how to deal with these virulent, toxic haters. Hate is something the left knows how to and has the courage to confront. Let 's take it on!
Maybe we need to pull together anti-terrorism, anti-fundamentalist-hate rallies-- big rallies with tough talk about terrorism and kind talk about helping people who are captive in cultures stuck in the Islamic equivalent of the dark ages. There is a whole generation of Iranian young people, straining at the leashes of the graying mullahs who would love to see demonstrations in support of their freedom efforts-- demonstrations that might include supporting violent overthrow of the Ayatollahs.
Peace rallies have a place. But Abraham Maslow 's admonition "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" seems to apply here. The left must explore the whole spectrum of solutions, going way beyond just holding peace rallies. The problems we face today are not just about peace. We must segment or specialize our approaches. Let some people focus on peace, but don 't let them control the whole progressive, liberal agenda.
It appears that a majority of Americans agree that the Bush team has failed to persuasively argue for an Iraq war now. Still, any successful Democratic candidate must put forth a convincingly tough policy that deals with the reality of terrorism in the world. Democrats and liberals can and should define positions on how to deal with terrorists who wish to kill Americans and our allies or damage our resources.
If we don 't like what John Ashcroft is doing with our constitutional liberties in his efforts to prevent terrorists from hurting us from within, we need to come up with alternate solutions.-- social, legal, military, economic.. fair, including the desire to maintain constitutional rights, but damn tough-- tough enough to get some people mad.
We need a Kennedyesque "land-a-man-on-the-moon Apollo Program" type vision for freeing the US of dependence upon fossil fuels and thus, dependence upon the middle east, or Russia or Africa for oil. Energy independence is patriotic. Failure to enact laws which support, encourage and finance this effort is not only stupid, it hurts the country!
We need to come up with a vision that deals with the tens of thousands of hate-mongering madrassa schools spread through the Muslim world-- a problem the Republicans have ignored. These two issues alone can and should be embraced by democrats with a tough attitude. It 's a good thing to free millions of children from brainwashing mullahs who use food and lodging to buy souls. This is an easy one. Let 's spend some serious money offering parents in those countries alternate educational options. The Saudis won 't let us. But we can compete with Saudi Wahabi fundamentalist money in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and other countries where they 'd be happy to allow us to help the children learn English and useful information, instead of just strong doses of the Koran and hate.
We need to talk tough to Republicans on these issues and make the Republicans get behind solutions to them.
There 's lots of talk about encouraging democracy in all those middle east kingdoms, and I 'm all for it. But you don 't plant a flower in the snow. You don 't offer democracy to fundamentalist zealots who will throw away the democracy and supplant it with religious totalitarianism. You don 't espouse religious freedom in a situation where the freedom given to one group will be used to wipe out all dissent, all diversity. You make the tough choice of dealing with people who foul the community waters-- who don 't respect your values of freedom, of democracy. There are some countries that are not ready for democracy, not while the wolves of fundamentalism are waiting in the wings to gobble up the freedoms and replace them with Taliban-like theocratic repression.
Author Thom Hartmann has recently written that talk radio has been taken over by the right. The result is there are no national liberal talk shows, unless you count National Public Radio (NPR.) The problem with NPR is, because of its government funded, non-profit status it can 't air the kind of edgy talk about national politics and personalities that the right-wingers pump out. NPR commentators can 't spend an hour ripping apart the other side 's leadership or positions, as Limbaugh and his mud slinging cohorts do.
Note: When I wrote this, I wasn't aware of the Mike Malloy and Peter Werbe shows. Both Mike and Peter are hosted by http://www.ieamericaradio.com/ Technically, since they have listeners in several cities, can be heard via Sirius Satellite radio and by listening on the internet, they have national programs. Both hosts are tough liberals with strong progressive voices. But they only have a handful of actual affiliate stations-- a tiny following compared to Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage, etc. Recently, Thom Hartmann started a daily show with ieamericaradio.com too. They are definitely worth listening to on a regular basis, and you should try to get your local radio station to sign on as affiliates, to carry their shows.
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