(Article originally published here on October 22, 2005)
I'm re-publishing an article I wrote in 2005. Outside of the candidates in New Jersey, not much has changed. I'm adding some comments in italics.
As usual, the right wing extremists have taken charge of the language, the words that describe who WE are. They've perverted the word LIBERAL and have turned it into a nasty aspersion. But the response on the left has been VERY healthy and unlike in the past, the new generation of lefties is not extreme, not far left. We are reasonable, responsible, patriotic and more concerned than ever that the true extremists--the Republicans who have been taken over by far right religious zealots and self-centered, destructive lobbyists and corporate lobbyists who are doing irreparable damage to our nation.
The right wing is no longer conservative-- seeking to maintain the old order, seeking fiscal stability and balance. The right wing is regressive, self-centered and destructive, aiming to move backwards, seeking to produce the same kind of states of imbalance that existed over 100 years ago, or even 500 years ago, when children worked as laborers, when women were not allowed to vote, when feudal lords ran communities where serfs had few rights or privileges and were always on the verge of financial collapse, at the mercy of the lords of the manor.
The right wing has become so extreme that the current "middle" has been skewed so far to the right that "centrists" are now, really, right wingers. That doesn't leave room for moderates in the Republican party. It doesn't leave room for centrists in the Democratic party, since today's centrists are really espousing Republicans policies and values. The most natural home, at the beginning of the 21st century is with progressives.
These megachurch and televangelist demonizers of Christianity have worked hand-in-hand with right wing pundits and corporate lobbyists to cobble together a platform of irresponsible policies that are severely injuring American democracy, diplomacy, commerce and industry, jobs and workers, ecology, education, and ability to take care of and protect America.
That would be bad enough, but there are also far too many centrist Democrats who have become too chummy with the corporate lobbyists. They've sold out too many times, no longer holding true to their responsibilities to their constituents. Hubris is rampant in the White House and in the centrist realms of the Democratic party.
The greatest strength of today's Democratic party is coming from the progressives. The right wing, regressive, Republican extremists know this and hit the hardest with their attacks on Democrats running for office, calling them liberal, attacking anyone who is supported by Moveon, the most visible progressive organization. The right wingers have imbibed so much of their partisan power Kool Aid that they now believe that Democrats don't have a place at the table, period. This is best exemplified by indicted former house majority leader Tom DeLay's effort to force the judge handling his case because he is a democrat who has supported Moveon. This is totally inappropriate. Does this mean, that I, as an activist, if I get a traffic ticket I want to contest, can demand to know the political leanings of the judge I go before, and that I have the right to demand he recuse himself?
In New Jersey, perhaps the biggest political race in November, between Jon Corzine and Doug Forrester, we see Forrester reverting to what has become an almost mindless right wing mantra--accusing Corzine of being a tax and spend liberal. It's a shame that Corzine's response has been to come back just accusing Forrester of misdeeds. (just as today's centrist, soulless Democrats do,) The one thing Corzine may be doing right is associating Forrester with Bush on other issues, like Stem Cell research and labeling Forrester as a millionaire who has gotten rich working with a bad health care system making money off of pharmaceutical companies who are overcharging millions of Americans. Maybe he should be going further, attacking Forrester as a supporter of far right wing extremist policies that are killing workers, keeping American education below top levels, destroying the environment, eviscerating our ability to defend ourselves from foreign and natural threats.
We have to start hitting back when right wing extremists use their mindless, getting too-old, catch phrases. And we should have ready answers for them. Liberal tax and spend is their way of describing responsible, budget balancing, job building, people protecting and supporting policies that Bill Clinton proved were good for Americans rich and poor.
A great word to use to describe and argue for the moderate nature of progressive policies and positions is RESPONSIBLE. Tough progressive policies will advocate a responsible leadership--responsible to constituents, responsible to the needs of America, not the interests of lobbyists and transnational corporations. These include:
-responsible dealings with national security and terrorism threats
--pulling out of wars that were started and that are being maintained for bad reasons.
-responsible appointment of highly competent, deserving, based on merit and experience, leaders to positions of high power and responsibility in government agencies, departments and posts, rather than partisan maggots politically engineered without the interests of the nation, of justice or democratic principles in mind.
-balanced budget financial responsibility,
-visionary energy science, technology and management, responsibly looking to a future where fossil fuels are saved for non-energy purposes, like drugs, plastics, etc.
-taking responsibility for health care for all, like the rest of the first world, taking the burden of exploding health care costs off of corporations who are losing their competitive capabilities in the world markets because of congressional pandering to health care insurers and big pharma,
-responsible, future-looking ecological and environmental husbandry
-rehabilitation of our diplomatic reputation by responsible international citizenship
-responsible management of our trade, including protection of our industries and workers-- rather than the un-natural totally open, un-obstructed trade policies we now engage in.
-responsible compassionate caring for the have-nots, the people real Christians know, deep in their hearts, we should not be forsaking, as the Bush Republicans have so shamefully, even sinfully, done.
-re-instate regulations that were terminated for the benefit of corporations. Make laws that are responsible to humans, not the monster mega-corporations that show no loyalty to the USA, betraying workers and industries, every day, exporting jobs, technology investments, sourcing.
-rescue education by demanding responsible teaching strategies and a school work ethic that creates learning environments that produce students who can compete in a world market where the US's students are trailing woefully behind. Instead of making students memorize, teach them to think, to learn, to ask questions to engage in dialogue, to challenge everything.