Saturday, October 29, 2005

Being a Liberal Patriot

When did it happen that Liberals in this nation were no longer Patriots?

I was speaking with a person about defeating a constitutional amendment here in Texas that would ban gay and common law marriage, when a person listening in accused me of hating America. When I looked at the person in shock, he said that the family was what made America great, and that Gay marriage would destroy America.

I was shocked. Before I could respond, the individual stormed off. I have never, in my life, had someone question my Patriotism. Never.

I am an Eagle Scout, the son of a Soldier, and spent 8 years in the Army myself. I have worked for the American Red Cross, received awards from the American Legion, and am an avid student of American history. When I was in Bosnia, I was proud every day to put on my uniform with the American flag sown on the shoulder.

And yet, because I am a religious and political liberal, it is just assumed that I hate this country. I would be willing to die for this country, and as a soldier I knew I might have been called to take life in defense of it.

This nation was founded as a Liberal Nation. Think back to the radically liberal ideas of the founding fathers. Many of them we have yet to live up to.

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; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

The Declaration of Independence is a document to stir the soul of any progressive or liberal. It is the grand vision… something the progressive movements of today are severely lacking. The constitution was an experiment in liberal good government that is undeniable. People often forget, the “conservatives” of 1776 supported the British…

I love and believe in America. Though she is not perfect, I think she has done more good than harm in this world, and that is not a thing you can say about many nations throughout history. America is in the position to do even more good within our world in the future, with progressive leadership.

So, why does that gentleman who questioned my patriotism feel that way? Who’s fault is it that the conservatives have wrapped themselves in the American Flag, and left the liberals and progressives out in the cold?

It is our fault. It is the fault of the Liberals in this country. Once again, we have allowed others to define us… and we suffer from the results of having done so. Far from being secondary to our mission in making a better world for our children and grandchildren, I think taking back our identity of being Liberal Patriots of a Liberal Nation is essential to achieving those goals.

Think back to those words from the Declaration of Independence…. That all people are equal, and should be treated as such before the law. That all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That Government exists to secure these rights, and that the people should control the government, and even get rid of it if necessary.

A Liberal vision indeed. In the time of a King, saying that governments were formed by the people was radical… Leftist…. Liberal. In a time of aristocracy and slavery, saying that all men are created equal was beyond radical… it was visionary. In a time of privilege for a few, treating everyone equally before the law was unheard of. Telling people they had the rights of their own life, their freedom, and the chance to be happy was promising more than anyone had ever promised a people before.

Now, think on the goals of modern Liberals. We have helped to secure the right to vote for women and non-whites in this country, now we are working to make sure their political voices are heard. We are working to insure that we protect the equality of minorities, and are still fighting for the equality of Gays and lesbians, as well as the handicapped. We defend those who are most often treated unequally before the law. We work to end the death penalty, end unjust mandatory criminal sentences, and live up to the promise that people can have a secure enough standard of living to be able to pursue happiness. Who is securing the environment for future generations to live in happily?

Who indeed are the true inheritors of the Liberal Vision that founded this great nation? Who indeed are the successors to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and ole Tom Paine? Who’s blood is it that should be most stirred… who’s soul is it that should be most called to action by the sight of stars and stripes fluttering in the breeze?

Who is more the American Patriot? Those dedicated to the Liberal vision announced to the world in the Declaration of Independence, or those who defend the rights of the wealthy, powerful, and privileged? Those who seek to expand the rights of all Americans (and even all peoples) or those who seek to restrict them? Would the modern conservatives have identified more with the rebelling colonials, or with the British King?

Those who protect and advance the cause of Liberalism in this nation are the true defenders of what it means to be an American. We have allowed those on the other side of the aisle to claim the title of “Patriot” while spurning the liberal vision that being an American Patriot should require.

We Liberals need to reclaim the flag… Reclaim the pledge…. Reclaim the Declaration of Independence…. and Reclaim our Nation. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


Sandy said...

It seems to me the Right has stolen what is not theirs'. In my discussions of late i refer to Conservatives and Right thought as Torries and Liberals as Patriots. For it is the true Patriots that push for change and the Torries who resist it. We need to continually point out the right is antifounding father.

Bill Baar said...

My experience is the Military transcends Liberal or Conservative or any of these Political Lables.

For the most part, so do most Americans.

If you call yourself a Liberal, and someone challanges your Patriotism, just quote some of JFK, or turn to a guy like the former Sen Paul Douglas from Illinois who gave up his political career at age 50 to join the Marines as a private and fought in the pacific during WWII.

There is plenty to be proud of in the history of political liberalism. Just tell people abouit.

Marilyn said...

When people don't have answers to arguments, they sometimes go ad hominen (or ad feminam). You'll have met such in seminary as well, unfortunately. The trick is not to allow yourself to be distracted by personal attacks.