We’re taking suggestions: What does liberalism stand for?Then I started reading through the entries. I see only three possible explanations: these people are the famed "silent majority" of the Democratic Party, or they've not been paying attention to national politics for the last two decades, or they're absolutely oblivious to reality:
Anybody who's ever had to raise money knows the meaning of the phrase "elevator pitch": You're in an elevator with a potential moneybags, and you have, say, seven floors to tell him why he should write you a check.
Well, we all know the basic outline of conservatism's elevator pitch: "We believe in freedom and liberty, and we're for low taxes, less government, traditional values, and a strong national defense." But what is liberalism's? We at the Prospect have, among us, attended or sat on about eleventy hundred panels since the election at which someone invariably says something like the following: "We know what conservatives stand for. But what do we stand for?"
No one in Washington seems to know. So we turn to you. Give us liberalism's elevator pitch.
We believe in freedom and liberty, and we're for low taxes, less government, traditional values, and a strong national defense. Only we mean it. --J.P.Because Bill Clinton was known for pursuing freedom and liberty around the world, cutting taxes, reducing government regulation, acting in accordance with traditional values, and bolstering defense spending. No, wait—that's not right...
Liberalism is the recognition that good government is necessary to promote security, prosperity, equal opportunity, and personal freedom. --C.M., Washington, DCNot sure how that makes you different from the Republicans, except for the term "good government" which you conveniently neglect to define. A waste of typing.
We believe that all people, not corporations, are equal under the law and that the interests of our country are promoted by the goverment helping the least of our citizens. --M.C., Detroit, MISo corporations should not be equal under the law? Or is this just a slam against the eeeeevil corporation, which is even today plotting to rent out the Capitol Building to casinos?
We believe in balancing competition with cooperation, balancing strength with wisdom, balancing personal responsibility with responsibility towards others, balancing individuality with community, and that we are stronger united than divided. --C.U.You also believe in balancing oxygen with carbon dioxide, balancing checking accounts with a pencil and calculator, and balancing the Federal budget—what? Oh, sorry. Never mind...
We believe in personal freedom and responsibility; in accountable, unintrusive government; in protecting our children's health and prosperity; and for standing strong with allies against terror and tyranny. --A.C., Chicago, ILCome again? Are we talking about the same Liberalism? You may want to have a nice long talk with Teddy Kennedy some day. It might do him good.
I could go on all night, but it is getting late. If you care to, you can check out the entries for yourselves and judge how accurate they are. All I can say is, modern Liberalism is having one helluva time crafting a coherent message. In a two-party system, this is not a good thing. We need a healthy debate, between real options. And what we have now isn't cutting it.