A Signal columnist wrote a while back he could never get a good explanation of what liberalism is. I’m here to help with that today.
The comment struck me as odd in a country where liberal progressives outnumber conservatives by substantial headcounts. Progressives are the majority in America. Heck, we’re the majority here in the 25th District.
And who knows — you’re likely already a progressive yourself, but never quite self-identified your leanings into the party most suitable to achieve your personal political views. I’m here today to help with that, too.
You see, with so much upheaval at the national level, with all the distractions of Sharpie-gate, of Air Force staff in Trump hotels, with the Taliban invited to Camp David on the very week of 9-11, with all the “Trump Tweets” and Trump stuff and the never-ending culture wars – yes, you may have lost your way on the path of recognizing what’s actually important, what you care for, and what you want to stand for.
National noise and static have reached such soaring volume levels as to remain a continual distraction from what people actually care about — while all sorts of backroom deals and devious tricks are done, hidden by the distraction of Trump’s never-ending tweet show.
And it’s been this way for the past two-plus Trump years — and how can anyone focus on personal core values when the system itself is being compromised from the top down with a crazed bull tearing down the Values China Shop.
But it’s in recognizing and standing up for our personal values, and pushing back against value decay — demanding accountability, demanding civility, demanding humanity, and demanding empathy to all Americans and beyond – that we protect the system that governs us and protect the cities, states, and countries we love.
All that said, here’s the good news: You’re likely already progressive. Most are. And most Americans want to see achieved what Democratic progressivism stand to deliver. You know what America really needs to get back to, and what we really need to do, to regain our moral greatness.
As to that writer who couldn’t quite understand liberalism, let me give it a rudimentary swing:
Liberalism, or progressivism, is about caring for, and acting for, people, community, and country — outside and above ourselves. It means caring and protecting our young and vulnerable, so all get a reasonably fair shot in life. That we understand important human concerns like education, health care, safety and justice shouldn’t be sold off exclusively to highest bidders, but rather, are indeed rights we all share in common, equally. That these very basic human needs are so important they should be promoted and protected by government for the public good.
See, that wasn’t so scary. And, you likely agree.
“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” – Hubert Humphrey
Again, you likely agree. This moral test of government isn’t too far a reach for any of us. Indeed, it shouldn’t be, as it reflects bedrock principles of classical Christianity.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain famously asked God in Genesis 4. Cain found out the hard way and ended up cast out, working weeds and thistles all the rest of his days.
God apparently has no humor for those who treat their brothers with disregard. We should take careful note of that.
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus speaks clearly to how we should treat the vulnerable: Speaking of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said, “Who seemed a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers? He who showed mercy on him… Go and do likewise.”
“Go and do likewise.” He didn’t say, “Feign likewise.” Rather, “Go and do.”
Go help the sick. Go help those in distress. Go help those suffering from famine, flood, hurricanes. Go assist the needy. Go educate the unlearned. Go assist the sick. Go bring justice to those needing justice administered.
He’s talking to you and me.
Our American government exists to promote, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Such lofty goals are not achieved passively. These objectives require much “going and doing.” In an often harsh and unjust world, promoting our bedrock purpose requires action, not “thoughts and prayers.” Like the Good Samaritan, who didn’t choose to ignore the suffering man, “because he had it coming” or “because he wasn’t in the right social class” – but instead, intervened directly and fully, because love of God and man required committed, purposeful action.
You likely feel and uphold the same beliefs.
Progressive politics means we live out these beliefs in our public setting. We don’t restrict our compassion to inside the walls of our churches or our homes, or our social economic group, but bring compassion out into the public setting, in our political world, where these compassionate beliefs can be used for good in the most beneficial setting.
Progressivism is widely lending that same hand up to others, that we’ve also received in our lives.
“Pay it forward.”
“We’re our brother’s keeper.”
“Be the Good Samaritan.”
Progressivism is all this, lived out in the political sphere of our lives. Yes, you’re likely already progressive – it’s just that we’ve gotten our labels mixed up with all this political distraction and noise.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.