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A Leap Into the Possible

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Jeremy1952
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A Leap Into the Possible

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Certainly the divisive and derisive voices of talk radio and TV have managed to suggest that the so-called liberal agenda has outlived any usefulness it might once have had. But remember this: it is not moderation that redresses the great injustices, demands the vote for women or the right of black soldiers to fight alongside white ones.NEWSWEEK/THE FINAL WORDAugust 8, 2004 A Leap Into the Possible We liberals have been shamed into thinking our vision failed, when in fact it has simply been absorbed into the national self-portrait By Anna QuindlenNewsweek Aug. 9 issue - At the end of Barack Obama's keynote speech to the Democratic convention, I stood up and cheered at the TV. I was alone in the den with two dogs, a piece of needlepoint and a cup of Sleepytime tea. I must have looked like a solitary lunatic, but I'm certain I wasn't alone in my reaction. As much of the country knows by now, the Senate candidate from Illinois is a born orator, passionate yet reasonable in a venue that seems to bring out the inner screamer in even the most seasoned politician. He galvanized a gathering long on orchestration and short on surprises. And one more thing: he revived the power and the glory of American liberalism just by showing up. We liberals have fallen on hard times in recent elections. At the very least, like feminists, we are not supposed to say our name. Certainly none of the sanctioned speakers were supposed to describe either John Kerry or John Edwards using the L word. That will be left to the Republicans, who will use the description as a pejorative to suggest that the Democratic candidates are out of touch with the moderate values of the American people. But it's worth remembering that today's moderate values were the liberal notions of yesteryear. Social Security. Integrated schools. A war on poverty. In just one generation we have gone from the dark threat of something labeled socialized medicine to the promise of the same thing, called universal health care. We liberals have been shamed into thinking our vision failed, when in fact it has simply been absorbed into the national self-portrait. From the idea that a woman ought to have the same legal rights as her male counterparts to the belief that workers should count on being safe from hazardous conditions, formerly liberal principles have become bedrock democracy. Barack Obama's rise -- no, his very existence -- might have been impossible under the old ways that once held sway, and sometimes still do. His father was a Kenyan who grew up herding goats and came to the United States as a student. His mother was a white woman from Kansas. Their son was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review and may well become only the third black senator since Reconstruction. But not so long ago his foreign father might have been kept out of this country, just as some foreign students are kept out in the name of national security today. Not so long ago his parent's interracial marriage would have been illegal in some states, just as gay marriage is in the name of traditional values today. There was a time when a black man's entrance to Harvard Law School would have been unlikely, and his ability to run for public office improbable. Through demonstrations, debate and legislation, the notions that once would have negated or curtailed Obama were changed. That change was spearheaded by liberals. In his speech Obama reclaimed patriotism and traditional values for liberal activists, who have allowed their detractors to confuse dissent with disloyalty and tolerance with amorality. "There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it," he said. And he added, referring to the great fractured map of Blue Democratic states and Red Republican states that is the legacy of the 2000 election, "We worship an awesome God in the Blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red states. We coach Little League in the Blue states and have gay friends in the Red states." The American Heritage Dictionary, fourth edition, defines "liberal" this way: "Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behaviors of others; broad-minded." I've always seen it as an ethos in which possibility gets way out in front of reality and takes a flying leap. Sometimes I fear that politics will never have the will to act audaciously and courageously again. Certainly the divisive and derisive voices of talk radio and TV have managed to suggest that the so-called liberal agenda has outlived any usefulness it might once have had. But remember this: it is not moderation that redresses the great injustices, demands the vote for women or the right of black soldiers to fight alongside white ones. America is a land of anecdote; it's example, not ideology, that manages to keep it alive. That's why every state of the Union, every stump speech, every convention address, has that moment when the speaker stops and delivers a vest-pocket portrait to support a program or a point. Obama did it, too: guys at the Maytag plant in Galesburg, a student in East St. Louis. But his own was the story that made his point most powerfully. It was a story that, under the status quo of the recent past, would probably never have taken place at all. "In no other country on earth is my story even possible," he said. But it was possible in some substantial measure because of a movement devoted to replacing the status quo with something fairer, greater, different. According to the dictionary, and to history as well, that movement was, and remains, liberalism.
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Re: A Leap Into the Possible

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Those voices who preach the death of liberalism, arguing that it has otulived its purposes, have never supported it in the first place- have always fought it, and there has never been any ground given in the fight for more human and civil rights without struggle.Those who attack liberals now belong to a terribly vicious tradition that attacked liberals then...every step forward in liberty and protection of rights was attacked as 'unpatriotic' and 'anti-American'.The voices who dominate the Corporate Air Waves represent an anti-democratic, hierarchical, patriarchial, environmentally unsustainable agenda...they speak for whomever owns the Station..and the owners are not interested in sharing power or spreading the sacrifices evenly and fairly.We shouldn't expect these voices to support democracy...they cant and wont.
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