We are the 100%: A Liberal Manifesto
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
I have never before pretended to speak for all liberals, but living the life of a liberal for more than a half century, I believe, empowers me to speak for all of us. Many such manifestos have been written, none of them comprehensive and all-inclusive. This one will be.
Liberals fight for everyone. We fight for the 100%. Not the 1%, not the 57%, not even the 99%, but for 100% of us. Whether you're a homeless war veteran, an unemployed single mother or a Wall Street hedge fund manager, we will defend to the death your right not to be molested by the TSA at an airport, the right to marry whomever you want and the right to live a clean, safe, dignified life.
However, we are beaten, shouted down, vilified and otherwise loathed for this by self-styled conservatives, people foundering in the same icy ocean as the rest of us yet vilify those who choose to throw them a life preserver because it is in our nature.
We fight for everyone's right to free speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of the press, freedom to petition and the freedom to worship any religion, if any, that they see fit without fear of recrimination and reprisal.
We are not, however, bound by legal or moral compact to politely stand silent and pretend ignorance, racism and baseless bias is a legitimate opposing point of view. It is the moral and intellectual imperative of every liberal to shout down hatred, bigotry and ignorance and to lampoon, satirize and even vilify everyone who seeks to subtract from the store of human knowledge and to subvert rational thought. Everyone has the right to their opinion, as Sen. Moynihan once said, but you do not have the right to your own facts.
We do not seek to flee the shores of our nation in order to found our own liberal colony and say, The hell with the rest of the country. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, eat the same food, ingest the same pharmaceuticals, use the same usurious banks and predatory HMOs. The quality of these necessities are much higher now thanks to liberals, thank you very much. A progressive tax system paid for the roads and bridges you drive over, pay for their upkeep, schools to educate your children, street lights and signs to keep traffic safe and orderly and have provided jobs to the men and women of our nation's police and fire departments and our nation's armed services who risk their lives every minute of every day to keep you and your loved ones safe from harm. You're welcome.
While being on the opposite end of the political spectrum, we will also fight to the death, GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans and other conservative gay rights groups, for your right to be treated fairly and equally, to openly serve in the armed forces without prejudice and recrimination, to love and marry as you see fit. We are not saying you cannot retain your political views, even though we are justifiably baffled by your insistence on artificially attaching yourself to a party that by and large loathes you. At the end of the day, you have to admit you have far more allies on the liberal/progressive side than you do on the conservative side.
We believe in telling the truth and sticking to the facts without resorting to thuggery, dirty tricks and character assassination. Your African Americans are no better than others nor do we say "our" to imply ownership ideological or otherwise. Slavery ended during the Civil War.
We do not champion one religion or another for supremacy. That mindset was studiously avoided by our Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution of the United States of America and, once again, the first amendment does not give supremacy to Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindis, Lutherans, Methodists, Unitarians or any other denomination. Freedom of religion was one of the biggest reasons our ancestors came to the New World.
We do not loosely call others names nor resort to labels except when they are apt. If you act like a fascist or a racist, do not affect surprise when you are called on it. We are merely exercising the same right to free speech that we fight for you to have. We are not Communists, we are not Socialists and we are certainly not racists. But when you bully gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people, when you blindly champion the same private industry that is slowly killing you, when you discriminate against one particular race or religion, you are automatically inviting comparisons to a political party that murdered 6,000,000 innocent people.
The latter day Democratic Party does not endorse racism in any way, shape or form. The Democrats of the Civil War era did and they became first Dixiecrats then Republicans. Today's Democrats have nothing in common with the Democratic Party of the infamously corrupt Tammany Hall and especially the Democratic Party of the antebellum south. That's your party you're thinking of.
We fight to keep corporate money out of not just Democratic campaigns but also Republican campaigns, to put the power of the ballot box back in the hands we the People of the United States of America. We are fighting to take back the First Amendment privilege of freedom of petition that originally belonged to the people and not lobbyists who have thoroughly corrupted the political and electoral system.
We all have to abide by and are protected and victimized by the same laws, at least in theory. We are fighting to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act for all US citizens, not just liberals. We are fighting for your right to a fair and open trial, to not have your reading tastes held against you in a secret tribunal while you silently suffer under a gag order for reasons of "national security." We are fighting for the right not to be assassinated along with our children without due process by our own government regardless of your political or ideological orientation.
While the other side insists health care should be a privilege while screaming about rationed care, we are fighting for your right for affordable, single-payer universal health care, for your parent's and grandparent's right to enjoy their golden years in dignity and free from worry.
We do not resort to broad caricaturization and bellow on behalf of the rights of the 1% to continue fleecing, unemploying and displacing us from our homes in order to brickbat the other side. We are fighting on behalf of all Americans to not be victimized by Wall Street and against gains being privatized and losses socialized. At the end of the day, you have far more allies in Occupy Wall Street than you do on Wall Street itself.
We choose not to champion ignorance, let alone be proud of it. We believe in every child's right to be well educated and for every single one of our children to have an equal chance to obtain a higher education. We fight to keep Pell grants and Head Start alive, liberal programs that have educated countless children of conservative and Republican parents.
If you are employed, chances are you work a 40 hour work week with far safer working conditions than we'd had a century or less ago. You likely enjoy personal days, workman's compensation, paid vacations and employer-provided health care benefits. You have unions to thank for that, the same unions you are now vilifying and calling "thugs." You are protected from sexual harassment. You are protected by liberal civil rights that protect you from being discriminated against on account of your gender, sexual orientation, race, color or creed. The EPA you seek to subvert and dismantle was given to you by a Republican, Richard Nixon. The rest was given to you by liberals and progressives. You're welcome again.
If you are unemployed, we are fighting to get your job back by stopping private industry, led by the US Chamber of Commerce, from outsourcing your job in the risible interests of "remaining competitive." They farmed out your job to a Chinese or Indian sweatshop laborer making pennies on the dollar because they decided it was no longer in their best interests to pay you a fair, living wage with even a modicum of benefits.
We fight for the 1% to pay their fair share in taxes so the burden for supporting the nation's infrastructure will not be shifted to We, the 99%. We are fighting for the right for you to keep your house and to not have it stolen by banks making misleading, usurious loans or banks that do not even own your home.
We want to give everyone the ability to pay their bills, to save money and to provide for their children's future without having to decide to forgo one necessity (such as health care) or another. We do not want to see anyone on welfare or any public assistance but we would like to see it available for those without ridiculous pre-conditions regardless of their political stripe.
We do not want our 11 year-old children having sex and we are not trying to "indoctrinate" them into the gay lifestyle. We do, however, insist they be given the facts in an age-appropriate manner so they can pursue their true course in life. We are fighting for your children's rights to not be bullied in school because of the sexual orientation with which they were born regardless of how you vote on election day. While the people you support seek to repeal child labor laws, we are continuing to fight to keep our kids out of the mills and factories and in the classrooms where they belong.
We are fighting for a strong national defense but not one that drains the national coffers at the expense of health, education and infrastructure and to the benefit of war profiteers, a national defense that doesn't include reckless and corporately-driven misadventurism that tarnishes our reputation abroad and kills innocents and espouses one racial, economic or religious ideology over another.
Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are liberal agendas from which many conservatives as well as liberals and independents have benefited. We do not lobby merely for the rights of our own to continue benefiting from this social safety net after decades of labor and we are fighting for your right not to see that social safety net torn apart on the craps tables of Wall Street.
We fight for everyone, whether or not they wish to be saved or helped.