From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
The Liberal Agenda -- contest

January 20, 2005 11:09 AM

The American Prospect is holding a contest for a 30-word-or-less elevator pitch -- "What does liberalism stand for?"

Here's what I sent in: "We are strongest when we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, all partners in the American Dream."

More from the archive in Framing.

The Liberal Agenda -- contest (01.20.2005)

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Read the 24 comments.


I don't see how that in any way defines liberalism... That sentence makes sense when refering to AMERICANS, or a similar noun, but in no way excludes any of us, regardless of political affiliation...

Thu Jan 20 2005 5:39 PM

Jim Gilliam:


Thu Jan 20 2005 5:45 PM

Paul Stone:

Reason over faith, the individual over the corporation, democracy over monarchy, freedom over slavery, empowerment over serfdom. We don't fear change; we embrace it.

Thu Jan 20 2005 6:20 PM

Paul Stone:

This is what I submitted:

"Liberalism values the individual over government, corporations, and churches; and it values every individual the same. Liberalism empowers the individual and constrains the powerful. The Bill of Rights is liberalism."

Thu Jan 20 2005 7:00 PM

Tom from Madison:

Here is my entry:

Liberalism holds that reason and faith must inform each other to ensure freedom, opportunity, and justice at home while waging peace through responsible world citizenship abroad.

Thu Jan 20 2005 10:12 PM

Paul Stone:

Liberalism stands for empowering individuals and working together to create a world we can be proud of passing on to our children.

Thu Jan 20 2005 11:27 PM


Everybody now!!!...
Kumbaya my Lord.....Kumbaya...
Come on folks...clear out those patchouli fumes and get real...
Liberalism "empowers" the individual and values each the same?

How, exactly, does vehemently opposing school choice for parents "empower" anybody except the Education establishment?

How does Affirmative Action in hiring, promotion, or college admissions "treat each the same"?

How does the extremely restrictive gun control laws in oh, let's say Washington D.C. "empower the individual over the government"?

You guys TALK a good game but the results are often 180 degrees out of line with what you espouse...

Fri Jan 21 2005 4:24 AM

Paul Stone:

I usually try to avoid responding to the trolls, but those were actually good questions.

"School choice" is a euphemism for the destruction of public education. Public education needs to be fixed, not dismantled.

I'm not an advocate of affirmative action based on racial preferences. I don't believe it's a core tenet of liberalism. But, some disagree with that, and the reason is that they feel that it's necessary to counterbalance previous injustices.

Empowering the individual stops at the point where you are empowering the individual to commit terrorism or violent crimes. Anyway, the constraints on government are not mainly an armed populace, but the following:

* A system of checks and balances which prevents any single person of organization from gaining too much power.

* An educated populace and a free press, which allows people to be informed about their government and the issues which affect them.

* A fair voting system.

* A respect for the tenets of democracy, which causes civil servants to disobey unjust orders from their superiors.

* A tradition of civil disobediance in the face of tyranny.

* Separation of church and state, which protects the government from being dominated by religious institutions.

Those are the ones I can think of right now, but I've probably missed a few major ones. The fact is that guns won't save us from a corrupt and powerful government. In fact, if you try to use your gun against the government, you'll be branded a terrorist and there's no way your little gun is going to stop the police from arresting you and putting you in jail for the rest of your natural life.

Liberalism accepts that violence is sometimes necessary in the face of tyranny, but what keeps tyranny away is not violence, but a civil society.

Fri Jan 21 2005 12:24 PM

Tom from Madison:

I'd like to see Progressives go on the offensive when it comes to moral values.

Bush has killed a lot of innocent Iraqis in the name of liberating them. People have gone along with this because pictures of the deaths have gone unreported.

Bush has made torture part of the arsenal on the war against terror. The words "Human rights" are conspicuously absent from Bush's public statements.

Apparently Bush's version of Christianity turns a deaf ear when it comes to concern for the "least among us." This is a natural issue for progressives to seize.

In terms of economics, we are in the midst of reverse Robinhood wealth re-distribution. The very rich are getting even richer. Progressives should be advocating for access to opportunity for everyone, not just those connected with the Republican Party.

Tue Jan 25 2005 9:34 AM

Right Wing Robby:

We who have the means to make decisions on life and death for the "least among us" should have every right to do so. If a child will live his/her life in iraq half starved and without medical care, he/she is better off dead. If the child isnt going to receive proper care, better off dead. If the person with the ability to make the decisions has other more important plans, the child is better off dead.

They should make this a law to ensure that those with power can make life and death decisions for those without any power.

Oh my bad, we have one here and its the number one issue of the "moral party." Its called abortion.

The least among us are laying in a trash can, and the democrats are willing to do anything it takes to ensure that they have the "moral rights" to fill up as many trash cans as they can.

Tue Jan 25 2005 2:06 PM

Tom from Madison:


You make a very foolish point. Many of us would like to see fewer abortions even as we believe abortion should remain legal. This is my position.

If you want to consider a fertilized egg to be the same as a born baby you have the right to. I have the right not to. This is in the realm of religious conviction.

To deliberately equate abortion with killing innocent men, women, and children by bombing or shooting them is intellectually dishonest. I doubt you actually believe it yourself and have to wonder why you think this thought is even worth sharing.

"The least among us" in the Biblical sense refers to the poor, sick, those without hope, etc. These are people Republicans generally don't mention in their rhetoric. They're too busy appealing to greed. Bill O'Reilly asks "Who's looking out for you?" He doesn't ask "Who are you looking out for?"

If Republicans are really the anti-abortion party, when will they kick out the likes of Arnold Schwartzenegger, Rudy Giuliani, Arlen Specter, John McCain, and the other pro-choice Republicans. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!

Tue Jan 25 2005 2:48 PM

Right Wing Robby:

Abortion is the point as to why Democrats arent considered the moral party. They cant escape it.

In a zogby poll in Dec 2003 the following question was asked:

Do you agree with the statement "Abortion destroys a human life and is manslaughter?"

Yes 52%
No 36%
Undecided 12%

And the next question:

“Do you believe that human life begins at conception, or once the baby may be able to survive outside the mother’s womb with medical assistance, or when the baby is actually born?”

At conception 55%
Survive outside the womb 23%
At birth 13%
not sure 9%

The democrats wont be considered the moral party when 55% of the people think life starts a the "fertilized egg"; and 52% believe abortion is manslaughter.

The democrats are not the moral party as long as they support abortion. For better or worse, that is just a simple truth.

Tom, your views are in the far minority on this issue as usual. When you speak about when life starts, you speak for a small minority of this country. Which isnt surprising since you are far far left.

Tue Jan 25 2005 5:13 PM

Right Wing Robby:


Scott Peterson was recently convicted of 2 murders. The second was a 2nd degree murder conviction of his unborn child Conner.

According to what you believe, that decision was wrong. It shouldnt matter to you if Lacy had aborted conner or Scott did since life hasnt begun. After all, killing is killing no matter who does it.

So was that decision by the jury right or wrong? Was that a moral verdict or wasnt it?


Tue Jan 25 2005 5:29 PM

Tom from Madison:


Americans live by the rule of law, not the Zogby poll.

The Peterson case falls into a gray area which was decided one way in California this time. It certainly is NOT the basis for extrapolating broad conclusions about the deaths of all fetuses in all cases.

If every fertilized egg not carried to term is indeed a human life just like a born baby, there many more lost souls to be concerned with above and beyond those deliberately aborted. Spontaneous, i.e. 'natural' abortions or miscarriages happen all the time.

When known miscarriages occur, couples don't typically have a funeral and bury the dead fetus in a cemetary plot. In short, they don't consider the dead fetus to be the same as a dead baby.

That's not to say it's not a tragedy. Yes a fetus is a form of human life, but not the same as a born baby. As I said before, choosing to regard that fetus as a born baby is a religious choice. I don't want RWR, the Pope, or the Government making that choice for every American.

Depending on how polls are worded, the American people respond differently to that question. Personally, I think the hatred and fear inspired by the gay marriage fervor had more to do with "moral values" touted by most white Evangelicals.

Getting back to my original point, most Americans haven't seen enough dead men, women, and children in Iraq to gain an appreciation of the true Evil unleashed on these people.

It is dishonest and immoral to cause this kind of destruction and dismiss it by somehow equating it with abortion. The worst part is the Bush Administration's refusal to account for or discuss the number of actual Iraqi deaths.

Wed Jan 26 2005 6:08 AM

Right Wing Robby:

1) Its not a religious choice for everyone. As I have said many times, Im not religious. Morality isnt dictated by religion alone. Making that arguement draws the line between religious people and non religious. Thats the liberal way. I suggest you read or listen to this debate between Keyes and Dershowitz.

2)Since you believe that the fetus is a 'form of human life'; are there any other forms of human life you think its ok to kill? Are you qualified to make that decision? Which 'forms' are ok to kill? What if the father decided to abort the child without moms consent, no problem there huh?
Is that assault or murder? What is that?

3)You didnt directly answer the question. But reading in to what you wrote, you believe Scott shouldnt be convicted for killing conner. So I can go kick pregnant women in the belly, kill the baby, and only get charged with assault. Interesting position for the "moral party"

4) People die of old age all the time, it doesnt mean its ok to kill old people.

Contrary to what you hope, abortion is the number one issue dividing the two parties. Other issues may take the spot light, but when it comes down to it, abortion is a huge issue.

The majority of Americans feel that abortion isnt moral. The democrats will never overcome that, and therefor will not be considered the moral party. Thats clear and easy to understand. Saying anything different doesnt make it so.

But since you dodge that last question, let me ask you another.

You are on record saying you want less abortions.
If its ok to kill that particular 'form' of human life and there are no moral problems with it, why do you feel there should be less abortions? Why do you want fewer abortions if there is no problem with it?

If there is no moral problem with abortion, why do you want fewer? (Please answer)

Wed Jan 26 2005 7:04 AM

Tom from Madison:


You draw some foolish comparisons. Public policy concerning abortion has nothing to do with killing old people.

I think it would be better if young girls didn't get pregnant before they had a clear view about whether abortion was moral or not. It's about children becoming adults too fast.

You suggest abortion is a black and white issue. The issue is complex. By being such a simpleton, you misrepresent public opinion.

You failed to mention cases of rape and incest. Many more Americans favor allowing abortion in the cases of rape and incest.

You fail to factor in the health of the mother. It matters. Do you want the state deciding when the pregnancy is too risky?

You failed to mention when the abortion occurs. Many more Americans favor allowing early term abortion as opposed to late term abortion.

I never suggested that there were "No moral problems with abortion". What I categorically reject is your notion that there is one solution for all. I reject the notion that a paternalistic state can dictate that a fertilized egg is the same as a baby.

These ARE THEOLOGICAL issues. We are a pluralistic country with many religions who differ on the abortion issue. I don't want the federal government backing one religion over another. This is not a "liberal" position per se, there are conservatives and libertarians who also want the federal governement out out Amercian bedrooms.

Wed Jan 26 2005 8:20 AM

Right Wing Robby:

The only thing Black and white in this world are those cookies. That aside...

+++theology : the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God's relation to the world.+++

Tom. Im not religious. How many times do I have to say that to you before it sinks in? Abortion isnt a theological issue for me. Im sorry, I meant a "THEOLOGICAL" issue.

How can an atheist have an opinion on this issue if its theological? Should they just stay out of the discussion? Does their opinion matter less?This country is shared by all its people, religious or not Tom.

The right to life isnt based on religion. Morality isnt soley dictated by theology. Take off your ACLU colored glasses and stop dividing Americans based on religion.

Wed Jan 26 2005 10:03 AM

Tom from Madison:


The abortion issue is bigger than the question of whether RWR is religious or not. It is a both a theological and a moral issue for most Americans.

Enacting laws based on your position alone will violate the religious freedom of many denominations as well as the spiritual and moral convictions of pro-choice atheists and others whose opinions are contrary to yours but not based on religion.

I'm not the one doing the dividing. America is a divided nation these days. Check the Zogby polls. If you don't recognize that, you're the one who isn't facing facts.

Americans are extremely divided politically, socially, and religiously. I'm glad you no what side you're on. Don't kid yourself, it's not the only side!

Wed Jan 26 2005 11:00 AM

Right Wing Robby:

Im not an atheist, just not religious.

"Enacting laws based on your position will violate the religious freedom of many denominations....."

An arguement I have made time and time again in other threads regarding things like Christmas. Ill end my side of this discussion on this common ground.

Wed Jan 26 2005 11:56 AM

Tom from Madison:

I'm sure Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarteneggar would agree as well.

I'm not going to call them hypocrites for being Republicans. However Republicans ARE VERY VULNERABLE ON THE ABORTION ISSUE AND GAY RIGHTS ISSUES.

The obvious fact is Rudy and Arnold would not be electable on an anti-abortion / anti-gay platform. Republicans deliberately look the other way even as they are pushing for anti-Roe v Wade Supreme Court Justices and an anti-gay amendment to the Constitution.

Bottom line: there is no Republican mandate. The Republican majority is a coalition that was built on shakey ground--and can be dismantled by exploiting its natural weaknesses and DIVISIONS.

Thu Jan 27 2005 4:50 AM

Right Wing Robby:

The weakness and divisions?

Its called DIVERSITY. Something the democrats no nothing about.

Everyday you show just how out of touch your party is. Divisions, gimmie a break.

Thu Jan 27 2005 6:59 AM

Tom from Madison:


Republicans? Diversity? That's quite funny.

The Democratic party is the party of diversity. As an example, please consider how many African American Congressmen and Senators are Republicans and how many are Democrats.

Examples of weakness and divisions? How about the US Secretary of Education blasting Buster the Bunny on public television. Arnold & Rudy are both pro-Gay rights -- natural enemies of the Religious Right. That is a major division AND weakness in the Republican coalition.

How about the Pope's opposition to the Iraq invasion? Conservative Catholics don't want to discuss that. There are a lot of people, especially in blue states, who oppose the war on moral grounds. There are many neighborhood signs and bumper stickers reading "No War in My Name" in cities like St. Paul Minnesota, Chicago, and Madison.

There are many other examples that come to mind if you're willing to think creatively!

Fri Jan 28 2005 6:30 AM

Right Wing Robby:

Diversity and differing opinion is a strength, not a weakness. Having Rudy and Arnold brings the Reps strength, not weakness.

If your party thinks the way you do, its good news for the Reps.

Fri Jan 28 2005 6:57 AM

Tom from Madison:


You misunderstand my position if you think I'm against diversity of thought. I'm for it.

I'm skeptical that Republicans are really going to do ANYTHING to advance the cause of gay rights. Republicans aren't serious about addressing voter disenfranchisement issues in Florida or Ohio. I don't see Republicans doing anything to address the concerns of pro-choice advocates in NY or CA.

Faillure to followup on socially liberal rhetoric with action will lose, not gain political support. If you don't walk the walk, the talk is just talk.

Democrats have some real opportunities to tell Republicans to put up or shut up. Paying off pundits like Armstrong Williams with tax dollars is not going to score any diversity points. It also doesn't say much for Republicans and ethics.

Fri Jan 28 2005 7:20 AM

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