Monday, October 13, 2008

A few notes on Email Exchange

As some readers know, I am part of an ad hoc email discussion group that coalesced about 5 years ago. With the exception of the man who cc'd me on the first few exchanges, I know none of my correspondents in real life.

The email group consists of a majority on the far right wing, and a minority of those of us who are either left, or center-left.

Our exchanges at first were rude to the point of verbal violence. Things were spat at strangers over email that I would be hard pressed to say to my worst enemy face to face.

In time, we began to moderate ourselves (not much, just enough so that people would not withdraw from the conversation). I've noticed in recent days that an increasing tone of civility has crept into our exchanges...not much, but enough to make me wonder what is going on...it almost seems as if we are straining to get beyond the "he is a pig"/"she's a pig with lipstick" and start trying to discuss real issues...

dare I hope?

At anyrate, in on of our exchanges, one on the right hoped I realized just how "Liberal" my party was...I decided to respond here:


You make the mistake of thinking that I carry some great shame for being a "Liberal". The United States has had some great "Liberal" leaders...among whom we might count Jefferson, Jackson, (One might even consider adding Lincoln to this list, as well as Teddy Roosevelt- although they are on "your team" - and you're damn lucky to have 'em), Wilson, and of course the greatest President of the 20th Century (Sorry Ronnie, but it ain't you) FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy.

(To be fair, the United States has had great conservative heroes as well, including Washington, Adams, Hamilton, Dwight David Eisenhower- and while he cannot be added to honor roll, I must nod my head to Richard Nixon- not a hero, but a genius in his twisted way who left us much of value. I cannot bring myself to add Reagan to the list, given that fact that it was in the wake of his leadership that we found ourselves awash in debt- but I suppose he deserves a nod as well.)

While I agree (as do almost all Democrats) that the Free Market is the best way to run a society, I believe that that market is there to serve the people and not that the people are there to serve the market. Therefore, I have no hesitation or qualms at the thought that society (through our representatives in Government) will bring that market to heel, tame it, and discipline it when necessary.

I'm thoroughly willing to argue the merits of this...especially as I believe that this is a never ending balancing act...what worked for us yesterday may not work today...we must constantly keep thinking and correcting. Thus, "Liberals" of the 60s spend money to raise living standards...while Liberals of the 90s (like Bill Clinton) worked with Republicans (not nicely, to be sure) to reign in spending to end the deficit and begin the huge task of addressing the national debt to China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and others.

But I would argue that "Liberal" philosophy has done great good to this country. Jefferson's writings on the nature of Freedom have far outshone his personal conduct, Wilson, FDR and Truman guided this country through the greatest of wars against the fiercest of enemies...and while the Liberals of the 60s may have overplayed their hand, who can argue that Civil Rights for all Americans was an idea who's time had come?

No, we haven't done everything right, for sure...but I'm not a bit ashamed to be called a Liberal...and while you might teach me something that makes me change the way I approach a problem, I seriously doubt you could ever say anything to make me feel ashamed.....


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