Do You Know Why You’re A Liberal?

What do we do in the face of ingrained ignorance? How shall we respond in a time where credibility flows to individuals who play to our fears and insecurities? The list of individuals and organizations who, rather than enriching our public conversation, pollute the stream of information, is long. The tactics with which we can confront these entities are limited. But confront them we must. The stakes for allowing the sins of our time are every bit as grave as the Tea Parties would have you believe. Our democracy is at a crossroads; our environment is perched on the precipice; the future of our economy is hanging by a thread.

But how many of us, our friends, or our family, can distinguish the danger from its cause? We have tried to yell as loud as our opponents, and there is a place for such a tactic. It is, I believe, important to have at least one Keith Olbermann for every Rush Limbaugh. Satire also, is a critical tactic long employed; this site, as well as cable shows such as the Daily Show and John Stewart serve a vital purpose. There are many applications in which fighting fire with fire is the best approach. It is a time-honored observation that those who live by the sword, must also die by the sword. And so they shall. Satire, argument, and bare-knuckled brawling will continue to find a place at the table of this conflict. But there is only one way to reach final victory. We must fight ignorance with its one, true enemy; knowledge.

How have conservatives taken such a hold on our national discourse? My friends, they grabbed the reigns of knowledge and drove the coach themselves. They established, long ago, a strategy of running for and winning school board elections. They established, long ago, and ethic of listening to and acting on the advice of their own political media. While liberals and moderates watched Oprah and Judge Judy, conservatives listened to a solid day’s worth of political reporting on Clear Channel radio. A whole generation of conservatives are well versed in the arguments of Grover Norquist, Ayn Rand, and Jerry Falwell. How many times have I seen a liberal unable to articulate a clear answer to the most transparent attacks of a Limbaugh ditto-head? Democrats have made a habit of undermining one another’s points; unions versus environmentalists, clean energy environmentalists versus coastal beauty environmentalists…conservatives sacrificed all on the altar of the cause, and earned the moral high ground in a nation that values the notion of sticking to your principles above the content of the principles themselves.

Ask yourself a question; do you know why you are a liberal? Are you proud of being a liberal? Can you, in a clear and concise manner, explain what liberal principles are? Finally, can you do this without falling back on the argument of the ignorant; “I am a liberal because conservatives are evil, warmongering, polluting, racist, etc.” There are those among us with a talent for calling out precisely those traits in specific individuals who lead and represent the conservative ideology. The conservative celebrity class can be defeated in pitched battles by Piperni, Kos, Olbermann…but conservative “regular Joes” must be engaged with directly, and without the sarcasm and fanfare afforded the blowhards on TV and the radio.

The progressive cause will never advance until every member of the cause is able to articulate an affirmative argument for why they stand for the policies that define their ideology. Take the time to read a little on the political and economic atmosphere leading into WWII. Take the time to understand the costs, benefits, and morality behind the upheaval of the 60’s. Take the time to understand the basics of economics, inflation, and interest rates. Take the time to understand the scale of federal and state budgets in the context of your own budget. Turn off the judges and talk shows, and read Dean Baker’s Beat The Press. Dig into Kos, Think Progress, Mario Piperni.

Knowledge warfare takes time and effort, and liberals have too often lived up to the labels of laziness applied by the conservatives. A generation must now step forward who can take the debate straight into the teeth of conservatives. Failure in this fight is simply too awful to contemplate.

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Episode 4: Small Government

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Episode 8: Don't Make Me Use the "S" Word!

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