Friday, September 25, 2015

Liberals - A Crisis of Faith

Have you noticed how Republicans constantly base their positions on the Constitution?   When was the last time you heard a Liberal/Democrat base his positions on the Constitution or other founding document like the Declaration of Independence?  

One major exception was the 2004 Democratic nominating convention when Barack Obama based his entire speech on the Declaration, and most speakers that followed mentioned the Declaration as well.  (Coincidentally, I had sent my then-new book, We Still Hold These Truths, to Terry McAuliffe, the DNC Chair at the time, several weeks before and he had responded with interest and said he would forward the book to his program people.)  But that was a flash in the pan, even for that election season.

Liberals seem to have given up on the Declaration and the Constitution in arguing their case, giving those precious documents up to the Radical Right.  Perhaps it’s because they can’t get around the fact that slavery was embedded in the Constitution and that women didn’t even get the vote till 1919.  (They should read my post, “All Men Are Created Equal?”  September 30, 2014.)  They seem to think they can sway their audience just by talking about what’s right, what’s needed.  But that doesn’t provide them with ammunition against the Constitution-based arguments of the Republicans.

As I argued when I originally wrote the book, Democrats need to inspire and arouse the American people, not just the Democratic faithful, by developing a cohesive vision of what we think a better America would look like and how we propose to get there.  And we must communicate that vision effectively and passionately in a way that the average voter gets. It can’t just be a grab-bag of policies.  

We must create a counter-movement to the Radical Right.  Certainly, given the fear, anger, and distrust that is out there now, plus the fact that the Koch brothers have hijacked the middle class revolt, this is even more critical.

Luckily, there is at hand an overarching perspective at once so familiar yet profound that the American people will immediately get it … the words of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, … Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, ...”

These words are the core morality, the heart, the soul of American democracy.   This is America’s common faith.  And an integral part of that faith is government’s responsibility for creating a context in which each American has an equal opportunity to pursue those rights.  

It’s about the people … as Lincoln put it, government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  But it’s not just about rights, there’s also an implied shared responsibility, where all citizens have a duty to support the government’s efforts to promote the public good, each according to his ability. 

All the domestic policies of the Party naturally flow from these core American concepts.  And it is those policies that make the Democratic Party “life-affirming” and “pro-family”.  It is those policies, which respect the value of all human life and the environment, that make the Democratic Party a party of faith – not Christian, not Jewish, not Muslim, not Buddhist … but deep faith.   And while rooted in our past, this perspective compels policies that meet the needs of our economy and society now and in the future, in a world where many of the assumptions of the past are no longer valid.

This is a call to arms for all Liberals.   Return to your roots.  Return to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and reclaim those documents for yourself and for the American people as profoundly liberal documents, not the narrow conservative ones as depicted by the Republicans.  And, they must label the Republicans for what they are … hypocrites masquerading as the party of the people. 

Watch the YouTube video: What Do Democrats Stand For?
video