last twenty years have been hard for liberals. Liberals don’t get respect nowadays. Just look the books America
is Michael Savage’s, Liberalism is a Mental Disorder. And Ann Coulter’s How to Talk to a Liberal if
You Must. (I guess you aren’t supposed to talk to liberals anymore-so much for enlightened public discourse.) And
there is even a children’s book, Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed.
fact is- nobody wants to be called a liberal anymore. I
first observed this phenomenon in the presidential debates of 1988, during which Michael Dukakis and the entire Democratic
Party denied being liberals. It marked a change from my college days in the 1960’s. Back then, there were no conservative
talk shows in Boston, and being a campus conservative was
considered only a notch above convicted child molester. If you studied accounting or marketing, for example, you kept it quiet.
If you wanted to express a conservative-sounding idea, you prefaced it with the obligatory, “I’m not a conservative,
but…” In those days, nothing quite evoked the elemental essence of nerd or loser like being a campus conservative,
no matter how rational your arguments. It was an injustice, of course. But fashions run in cycles, not only for clothes and
music, but for polemicists as well; the same mass psychology still dominates public discourse, except that now it is open
season on liberals.
Maybe it’s just as well. Where would the country be if liberals, unhindered by conservatives,
got everything they desired? We could all be in the 80% tax bracket. And for president we could have… Let’s see:
Hillary? Reverend Al Sharpton? Maybe the Democrats can even aspire to the mediocrity
of a John Edwards.
Somewhere down the line, the so-called party of the underdog became the New World Order architects
of the welfare state and defenders of partial birth abortion. It has been a long slippery slide indeed from the days of Old
Joe Hill, Eugene Debs and Mother Jones. No wonder nobody wants to be called a liberal anymore. But if you live long enough,
you see that life runs in cycles.
Nevertheless, liberals have done some worthwhile things. It was those nasty liberals,
after all, who pushed the envelope to make slavery the most important human rights issue of the 19th century. And liberals
pushed through Social Security and the GI Bill despite intense opposition from conservatives.
We should remember that
Americans died for the right to be treated like human beings. Liberals stood for human rights, while conservatives….I’ll
get to that. A few years ago, I took a tour of the Boot Cotton Mills in Lowell,
and the guide told us about a woman who got scalped when her hair got caught in a spinning machine. The bosses sent her home
without pay and charged her for the bolt of cloth she ruined by bleeding on it.
unions were opposed vigorously by conservatives who fought tooth and nail against the 40-hour week, health and safety laws,
environmental regulations, and even the prohibition against child labor. Many people are cynical about unions nowadays, sometimes
with good reason. But if you want a country without unions, with no governmental “interference” in commerce, just
look at any third world hellhole. It’s a cheap-labor conservative’s paradise of corporate feudalism- where they
can employ children, pay people three bucks a day, foul the air and water, and it’s all legal. Remember those pictures
in your history books of 7-year-olds working in sweatshops in places like Lawrence and Lowell? Stunted little boys with the
faces of old men? It was those same “bleeding heart” liberals again that put a stop to it- opposed by the same
cheap labor-conservatives like Rush “Oxy” Limbaugh, Howie "the Jackal" (avowed nemesis of immigrants) and "Bellicose
Conservatives are always touting the free market as the ultimate and most efficient dynamic
of goods and services. But in the 1930’s, the utility companies were refusing to bring electricity into rural communities
and banks didn’t want to make loans to people who needed money. The “free market,” wouldn’t justify
it; and so millions of people had to make do with no electricity and little money. But liberals pushed through rural electrification
programs. And liberals pushed through the Federal Housing Administration which helped banks make loans to people who needed
money for homes. And let’s not forget public education and Medicare, which were also pushed through by those “do-gooder”
liberals. And, as usual, strongly opposed by conservatives. I could keep going and fill this whole page-there’s so much
more to say about how conservatives stood against just about every gain working people have made in this country.
understand Dukakis not wanting to be called a liberal. The word has been tainted, and associated with campus Stalinists, intellectual
snobs, and Hollywood phonies. But after opposing so many things that benefit the working
people of this country, what exactly do conservatives do? True, they generate patriotic rhetoric: nothing wrong with that,
but you can’t eat rhetoric. They stand for deregulation (i.e. the savings and loans, which will cost taxpayers 500 billion
dollars). They stand against taxing-and-spending, which is not a bad thing; there has to be balance. But just what have they
stood for? Look at the champions of conservatism, like Ronald Reagan for example, who wanted to lower the minimum wage to
a buck an hour. With a record like this, who is proud to call themselves a conservative?