speech bubble over the dog's picture says: "Hi,
my name's 'No, No, Bad Dog.' What's yours?"
dog is an American liberal. L-word became an epithet
because liberals gave up without a fight years
ceded the moral high ground to guys with the big
radio voices who insist conservative means God
and country. Liberal, on the other hand, was equated
with all things godless and unpatriotic.
dreamed up this hooey probably never imagined
it would be so easy to sell. But liberals were
too busy building houses for poor folks, protesting
the felling of old-growth trees and not bothering
to vote. They just shrugged.
the Democrats, who should have given those liberals
a reason to vote, went on the defensive.
they cringe like the Bad Dog to hear John Kerry
and John Edwards described as having "the most
liberal and the fourth-most liberal" voting records
it's an insult.
they did something nasty on the living room rug.
liberal is not a dirty word or an obsolete philosophy.
So all you e-mailers who try to blast me with
messages that start "You liberals . . . " are
going to have to realize I don't take it as an
I don't think anyone else should, either.
is steeped in liberal values - even if huge numbers
of Americans have been indoctrinated to think
"values" is a word of, by and for the conservatives.
is, in fact, the government that is supposed to
be of, by and for something. And that something,
as Abe Lincoln said, is "the people." It is a
legitimate function of the government, as the
Constitution says, to "promote the general welfare."
ideas have done a great deal to fulfill the quest
for a "more perfect union." So much so that many
people take the blessings of liberalism for granted.
Social Security. Ask Granny if that was a good
idea. And Medicare and Medicaid. There might also
be a comprehensive national health insurance program
for the rest of us if Bill Clinton's efforts hadn't
who say social services are expensive are right.
But failing to provide them can have a bigger
cost. And besides, it was Ronald Reagan who produced
the kind of deficits that George W is apparently
trying to match. Tell me again, whose philosophy
is fiscally responsible?
thinking also codified civil rights, opening up
new opportunities for women and minorities. All
those who think that was a mistake, please sit
in the back of the bus for a few decades. Those
who think it would have happened eventually without
federal interference, please re-read Langston
Hughes' poem A Dream Deferred.
ideas also make your pocketbook safer. Do you
feel confident putting your money in the bank?
Thank the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,
a creation of FDR's New Deal, which also gave
us the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate
the stock market. Corporate scandals raised questions
about the quality of oversight. But Enron and
WorldCom sure didn't make a case against regulation.
Just the contrary.
accept government regulation in all sorts of areas
- from laws against pollution to handicapped parking
spaces - because they understand that the government
has a role in furthering the greater public good.
the August cover story on "Liberalism Regained,"
Ralph Nader asked Harper's magazine the rhetorical
question: "When was the last time you saw a major
Democratic candidate brag about how many lives
the Democrats saved by pushing through air- and
water-pollution laws, auto-safety laws, the Consumer
Product Safety Commission Bill?"
represents the "divided-we-fall" approach to re-legitimizing
liberalism. As obsolete as a Corvair.
Dean, on the other hand, is rallying the liberal
troops to remake, and retake, the Democratic Party
from within - in November and beyond. In June,
he spoke to a Campaign for America's Future conference
about the importance of emulating the long-term
organizational strategies that brought the Republicans
know what the right wing has done, and we are
going to have to do it," he said. The conference
was called Take Back America.
a not-for-prime-time rally by the same group during
the Democratic convention, Dean again called for
Democrats to follow the right's example. Run candidates
for everything from library trustee on up, he
just might work.
only if the Bad Dog liberals learn something else
from their more successful political opposites:
Never act like you're ashamed of what you believe.
Valdez is a Republic editorial writer.
Posted: September 1, 2004