The other day, I wrote a piece here about how my almost-95-year-old dad was still riveted by politics and still a strong liberal, as was my mother up to the end, when she was 87. After reading this, someone wrote me how she noticed some friends of hers getting more conservative as they moved up in the senior years.
While I understand that that isn't uncommon -- indeed it was one of the points behind my article and admiration for my folks -- it's certainly not the only reaction. And I think that sometimes the world around you reinforces what you believe. That got me to think about an article I wrote on that very subject for the Huffington Post almost a decade ago.
It came during the George W. Bush Administration. While I was aghast at so many of the Bush policies, beyond just the lying America into the Iraq War, and the crushing financial politics that would soon lead into the collapse of the U.S. economy, I realized that my galled reaction to all of this make me look at why I was so bothered by them. And in doing so, I was able to refresh and reinvigorate my view of liberalism in America.
And this was all the way back in July 24, 2007. Long before conservatives and it's far-right corporate owned Tea Party wing took over the Republican Party, and the GOP began blocking as many Democratic proposals and appointments as they could, melting down under a black president, making it their stated #1 goal to deny President Obama a second term, and breeding a foundation that would allow for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson to become party leaders.
So, the words written back then still hold true today. And with the primary results yesterday heating the presidential election race up, perhaps more so.
President George W. Bush: An Appreciation
Some things you take for granted. Breathing, for one. Pizza. I took being liberal for granted. The understanding was always there, of course, but the appreciation was lagging. Then George Bush became president. And after 6-1/2 years, with conservatives following his every lead like a cross between adoring puppies and lemmings, the deep pride of being liberal blossomed.
Thank you, President George Bush, for bringing liberalism back to America!
Ever since former-actor and president of the Screen Actors Guild Ronald Reagan demonized half the country by damning "the L word," all liberal ideas were unthinkingly dismissed -- not on merit, but simply because they were "liberal." This started the path of political division in America that later allowed for George Bush. And with each rip of the Constitution, with every signing statement, out of sheer self-defense the gratitude of being liberal grew richer, and beyond.
Thank you, President George Bush!
As President George Bush began eroding core beliefs that all Americans take for granted as our birthright, liberal voices began shouting out in protest, in part to keep their heads from decompressing and then bursting. But it's not only important to criticize what's numbingly wrong, but understand why. Why is radical right, neocon philosophy so horrifyingly disastrous? Why had growing up liberal seemed so naturally preferable to me??
And the answer became clear in ways that had never been as pronounced. It's that the heart of liberalism is that it's not for "me," but everyone's benefit. The radical right philosophy protects yourself, all others be damned. Once I've got mine, let the poor, the under-educated, the discriminated try to fend for themselves. (This is known as the Titanic Theory of government.) Who cares about science, what "I believe" is more important than fact-based reality that touches everyone.
But liberalism understands it's better to have a bleeding heart than none at all. No political belief is perfect, and liberals make their share of gaffs, but when they do something stupid, it's at least erring on the side of trying to help others -- not because you aren't concerned if others are left helpless. I took all this for granted, but its importance returned to me.
Thank you, ,thank you, President George Bush!
And when getting angrier by the day at a far-right White House and its enabling conservatives in Congress ripping apart the core of America, I was forced to asked myself in fairness what liberals had done that was any better. After all, conservatism is not inherently wrong. The issue, though, is being reminded what being liberal means.
And I thought of liberals passing programs like Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, women's suffrage, federal deposit insurance, unemployment compensation, rural electrification, child labor laws, minimum wages and the 40-hour work week -- programs that ALL Americans not only take for granted, but that ALL Americans would rise in arms together if any of these were removed from their lives.
That's liberalism. And it's good to be reminded of it, regularly.
So, thank you, once again, for that, President George Bush!
And thank you too for being the Uniter, Not a Divider you said, and bringing a divided America together. After sinking the nation into a war so disastrous that the American public rose up against it by 68-27% -- and after spying on Americans without warrants, approving torture, vetoing stem cell research, ignoring global warming, under-funding education, Katrina, stripping away environment protections, gutting the impartial Justice Department, destroying millions of emails, and commuting a convict's sentence to block investigation of his Administration, the American public has together disapproved of his presidency by 71-25%, and George Bush has indeed united the nation!
And for that, perhaps most of all, thank you, President George W. Bush!
Republican candidates might not want to mention your name, but I will, with patriotic pleasure. President George W. Bush has unified a nation against him, and helped return my personal pride in being liberal -- and from the rise of liberalism and the reclaiming Congress, clearly returned the pride of liberals everywhere. Because of George Bush, there grew Air America radio, MoveOn.org, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, the Center for American Progress, TruthDig, Talking Points Memo, an audience for Michael Moore, and oh-so much else. Groundworks for the future, all. Thank you, President George Bush. Thank you more than you could possibly understand.
I appreciate it.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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