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Our Liberal Legacy

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Murrow on McCarthy, no fear, 1954 Edward R. Murrow's most powerful anti-McCarthy broadcast, March 1954. This is the one that took McCarthy down! This is Murrow's most famous, and most ...
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When I was growing up in the second half of the 20th century, there was very little concern about politics. We sat around the lunch table at school or at the office and talked about sports, or cars, or the weekend. The only time we discussed politics were the few weeks before a presidential election. We voted for either party with equal lack of passion. I had voted for Jack Kennedy, for Ronald Reagan, for George Bush #1 and for Bill Clinton with little concern for their party affiliations.

Communism was still a thing back then. I came to the conclusion that communism would die out in four decades because the young post war communist population would see that a consumer driven economy produces more goods with many different features, styles, and pricing. My prediction was correct although not accurate. Russian Communism ended sooner than I predicted. It officially ended in 1991 and a new democratic government replaced it. However, to this day, Republicans continue to accuse liberals of being communists even though there are virtually no communists in the US. This is a successful Republican scare tactic because elderly survivors of the Cold War still believe communists are hiding in the shadows.

This Republican scare tactic was first used by Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin. (Note - Wisconsin was the birthplace of the Republican Party in 1854. It is not well known that at its founding, the party was very liberal and was created to end slavery in the conservative Southern states.) Senator McCarthy became popular by making wide sweeping, but false accusations of communist infiltrations in government and in Hollywood. He would stand at the Senate podium and wave papers that he claimed had the names of hundreds of communists. The papers had no names on them. McCarthy was seen on TV attacking many Hollywood producers, writers, and actors of being communist. Even though McCarty had no evidence of his charges, many were blackballed out of Hollywood simply because of McCarthy's lies. However, at the time, the Fairness in Media regulation was in effect. The Fairness regulation required radio and TV stations to give equal time to both sides of political issues. So Hollywood producers were given equal time to challenge McCarthy. This exposed McCarthy as a political fraud and led to him being discredited and condemned by Congress. The Fairness in Media rules kept American politics free from extreme hostilities like McCarthy.

In 1990 I happened to hear one of Rush Limbaugh's radio broadcasts. I was amazed to hear the same extreme ranting of unfounded accusations that were the trademark tactics of Senator Joe McCarthy and the extremist John Birch Society. I later learned that the Fairness regulations had been repealed by Republicans during the Reagan administration. Republicans had always opposed Fairness since it was first passed in 1949. Soon after the repeal, Rush Limbaugh plugged in his microphone and the pillars of decency crumbled. American politics has never recovered from this tragedy. Rush Limbaugh, and his clones, have one overriding objective, which has always been to cultivate extreme irrational fear and hatred of Democrats.

After decades of one-sided and very biased programming, the far right has been successful in convincing their audience that the English word "liberal" no longer means what it has meant for centuries. Of course, it is not really possible to change the meaning of words merely to accommodate a political agenda. Here is the dictionary definition of "liberal" -

ˆ Pertaining to or advocating liberalism, especially the freedom of the individual and government guarantees of individual rights and liberties

ˆ Free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: liberal attitude toward foreigners

ˆ Relating to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies

However, in the distorted, fact-free world of the radical right, the word "liberal" has been redefined to have detestable villainous implications. Those who have fully embraced and accepted this new definition have been trained to believe the most absurd illogical attacks and lies about liberals and Democrats. They also dismiss any factual contrary information as irrelevant. They subscribe to the policy of "I'll see it when I believe it."

The basic difference between liberals and conservatives, is that liberals are interested in new and better ways of seeing and doing things while conservatives prefer to keep things as they have been. Liberals are accepting of people and ideas that are different. Liberals find new foods, new theories, new customs, and so on interesting. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more comfortable continuing the established conventions in housing, food, government, styles, laws, and so on.

This is the reason conservatives have always been on the wrong side of history.

This process of first repealing the Fairness accountability followed by constant indoctrination of lies, has created the extreme divisiveness and hatred that American politics is burdened with today.

In addition to redefining "liberal" to fit their campaign of political disinformation, conservatives have also strived to bury all the historical accomplishments of liberals that have changed the world.

For nearly all of history, humans lived under autocratic dictators, kings, popes, or chiefs. It was the invention of rapid printing that triggered the worldwide liberal revolution that replaced kings and slaves with democratic self-rule. Virtually everything we take for granted today was the result of liberals struggling against conservative resistance to change. It should be noted that after one or two generations, conservatives have always accepted and embraced the liberal changes that they originally opposed.

The Civil War, that killed more Americans than all other wars combined, pitted the liberal abolitionist against the conservative slave owners. The slave owners were terrified of losing their great plantation fortunes that were built with free labor. They were also driven to keep all their cute young sex slaves. Today most conservatives agree with liberals that slavery was immoral.

Women were given the right to vote with the 19th Amendment in 1920. This was 50 years after African-Americans were given the right to vote with the 15th Amendment in 1870. Conservatives opposed giving women the right to vote for a variety of reasons that today seem rather fanciful and humorous. Today most conservatives agree with liberals that women should have the right to vote.

Conservatives opposed the 21st Amendment in 1933 that legalized the sale of alcohol. More recently, conservatives opposed legalizing same sex marriage. Eleven states have legalized marijuana including all of the liberal West Coast states. Meanwhile, none of the conservative states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Conservatives originally opposed Social Security and Medicare. Today conservatives, specially the elderly, do not want these liberal programs changed or dropped. Conservatives in 1776 opposed independence from Great Britain. Most of these conservatives moved to Canada after the war with England.

In the area of labor relations, liberals fought for worker's rights. It took many years to obtain all the benefits we now take for granted. These benefits include the 40-hour workweek, pensions, health insurance, higher overtime pay, paid vacations, and the end to indiscriminate firings.

Every political revolution of the past few hundred years has been the work of suffering impoverished citizens to overthrow abusive and exploitive dictators. Some revolutions went too far. In any case, we now live a world of freedoms and individual liberties. For more information on this see "The Liberal Record".

If you appreciate this world free of greedy despots and privileged royalty, thank a liberal.

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The author was a Spacecraft Engineer on NASA's Apollo program and a Computer Science instructor at California State University. He holds a Master's degree in Systems Engineering from the University of California and has traveled extensively (more...)

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