Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


The Conscience of a Liberal

Yes, I used that word, ‘liberal.’  I identify as one after all.  I have already made clear why I prefer that term to the one currently in vogue, ‘progressive.’  Now I lay out what, exactly, as a liberal I believe.  This has all been out there before, but I feel the need to reiterate it.

I believe in democracy and the will of the people.  We are nation governed by people and ruled by laws.  That means when conservatives and Republicans win elections they inherently have my consent to govern on that basis and I will accordingly defend their right to do so.  While I will forcefully oppose the elements of their agenda I consider bad, I will nonetheless support their right to enact it so long as it is consistent with the Constitution.

I believe regulated capitalism is the best economic system for prosperity and societal development and advancement.  There must be regulations in place to curb its excesses, but, overall, it is better than any other system that has been put out there.  When properly regulated, the invisible hand postulated by Adam Smith can, and will generally, be effective.  It is not always pretty, and it is certainly not perfect, but many people will innovate based upon the perceived economic benefits to be reaped by accurately judging society’s wants and needs.

I do not believe corporations are inherently evil.  They are mere pieces of papers; fictional constructs designed to limit the liability of investors to the size of their investment.  That limited liability encourages investment.  It helped promote significant economic growth here and in other nations.  As with other elements of a capitalist economic system when its excesses are not curbed it can, and will, cause significant damage.  That, however, is not an argument to eliminate the concept of limited liability, or capitalism for that matter.  Instead it is merely a reason to pursue effective and reasonable regulations.

A liberal education

From my personal archives. I’m in the mood to share something today. :-)

Washington and Lee is a fine old American university. At least that’s what I hear; I never studied there. My own (liberal) education began under quite different tutelage: that of Lawrence and Lee.

Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee were one of the great playwright partnerships of the American theatre, probably best known for Inherit The Wind (1955) — to this day one of the most-produced plays in America — which, along with other classic works from the ’50s like Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, was part of the nation’s arts community’s rejection of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his odious -ism.

The team went on to write The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail (1970), their response to the Vietnam war (they were against it) and First Monday in October (1978), a play about the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, which adumbrated Sandra Day O’Connor by three years (and which explored the ideological divide between liberal and conservative Justices).

By the time I got to know any of these works, however, I was already under the spell of another of Lawrence and Lee’s creations.

Or, more correctly, adaptations. Her name was Mrs. Burnside; and if Lawrence and Lee served as my first institution of higher learning, she was unquestionably the dean, the doyenne (a word, by the way — and this is no mere coincidence — that I first encountered in connection with Molly Picon, who I had read was “the doyenne of the American Yiddish theatre”).

The world knows her better as Auntie Mame.

10 questions to distinguish truly progressive politicians

I’ve come up with 10 questions that I think distinguish progressive candidates. I’d like to ask each congressional candidate these 10:

1.  Would you vote to repeal the Patriot Act?

2.  Would you vote to repeal No Child Left Behind?

3.  Would you vote for a truly inclusive Employee Nondiscrimination Act?

4.  Would you vote to decriminalize marijuana?

5.  Would you vote for a law saying marriage is between any two consenting adults?

6.  Do you support a woman’s right to choose abortion, without restriction?

7.  Would you vote for a truly progressive tax system?

8.  Would you join the International Criminal Court?

9.  Would you vote for the Kyoto accords on the environment?

10. Would you support a “Manhattan project” scale effort to fund and develop renewable energy sources?

Then what I would do is compare the percentage of correct answers to the share of the vote Obama got, and fund people who were more progressive than their district and more progressive than their opponent.  

I guess I'm a Liberal in the Forbes Magazine definition.

Looking over the vote in the House on the Stimulus Package, where almost all the Democrats and none of the Republicans voting for Obama’s proposal (despite his extremely visible outreached hand, meetings, compromises on more than one issue, etc.), I realized that the Republican (read Neo-Conservative) Movement was still in full swing. It was one thing to go up against a majority of American economists, a growing number of unemployed workers, lower-middle-class homeowners whose mortgages were about to et their homes… but it is strictly another thing not to have any Party concessions (like one or two votes in favor) to show that the attempts at bipartisanship by the President would be somewhat acknowledged.