Wingnuts and Moonbats
Liberty, Death, Patrick Henry and 9/11
When I say the foremost right is the right to live, I mean the right not to get murdered just because you work in a skyscraper. I agree with Hasan that the words of Patrick Henry are a stirring call to sacrifice...but Henry was giving his life for a reason, and a damn good one; it wasn't a pointless death in the searing heat of jet fuel.
By the same token, Hasan asks if our current president has read the constitution. I've never quite understood why the Bush administration has taken so much heat from civil libertarians...it is the job of the judiciary to determine constitutionality. Every president has had to send his Justice Department attorneys to the Supreme Court to defend his policies...some you win, some you lose. If the current climate strikes some as too constrictive, lay it at the feet of the Supreme Court, not the Executive Branch.
To accuse this president of fascist tendencies, as some on the left have done, while he stands time and time again in word and deed for the cause of freedom, and while we see real, substantive change happening in areas where it was previously thought impossible, seems very disingenuous to me.
Liberty vs Security
If Mark means by the right to life, the right to self defense too, then I can't agree with him more. But how does the right to self defense preclude the right to our liberties? How do our liberties weaken our security? Did Patrick Henry mean to put Liberty above life when he said “Give Me Liberty or Give me Death”? I think many people do risk their lives to remain free. Was Benjamin Franklin reckless with our national security when he said “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”? I don’t think so.
When President Bush raised his hand to swear to protect this country on his inauguration day, was he swearing on the Bible or the Torah? No, he had his hand on the constitution of the United States. Yet I find it ironic that this President did the most to weaken it. I wonder if he read it.
On Labeling and Other Matters
My good friend Hasan defines a patriotic American as more than a citizen by birth (or immigration), but as an upholder and defender of core American values. I couldn't agree more. I suspect that there are many on the left who are tired of hearing their patriotism questioned because they aren't unequivably in favor of our current policies, and that's a fair objection.
I plead guilty to using labels in my earlier post
, - 'progressive', 'Truman Democrat' - that some may see as stereotyping; my intent was to provoke discussion on whether there is a schism between the 'progressive' (i.e., quite radical) wing and the more moderate, traditional Democratic wing. I am of the opinion that there is, and that the Left will have to address it one way or another. The most plausible long-term outcome is the spinning off of the progressive faction into a European-style Green Party, as I mentioned.
Perhaps I should explain why I consider myself a conservative, and what that means to me. I, too, believe firmly in the Bill of Rights, and I can understand why some of our post-9/11 actions are viewed as an infringement upon civil liberties. It is essential that we carry out that debate. In my view, the most fundamental human right is life. The second is freedom. You can't enjoy liberty and the pursuit of happiness if you're not safe from those who wish you harm. This is the rationale, whether right or wrong, of many of the actions in the War on Terror.
My core belief is in the primacy of the individual. To me, the right to private property and to minimal government is sacrosanct. I don't endorse the libertarian extremes of an emasculated government that basically builds highways and fights wars. I believe the state has a proper role in most issues, but our politicians must always be guided by the threefold aim of the founders to ensure 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'.
Of course, there's much more to it than that, and we'll have all the time in the world to get into these things further. I appreciate Hasan's hesitancy to embrace the label of liberal - it can be used as a bludgeon, just as the appellation 'right-winger' can. In case you're wondering, the title of this blog is a tongue-in-cheek poke at this high degree of partisanship. I hope we'll avoid that trap most of the time; I'm sure we'll fall into it occasionally, as well.
Where I am coming from...
Everyone has a value system that he/she uses to interpret events and determine right from wrong. I find it necessary to describe mine to help you know where I am coming from.
Christians use the lessons of the Bible to determine Christian values; Jews use the Torah; Moslems use the Quran… etc. So where do American patriots get their often-heard-about American values? The answer I reckon is from the constitution of the United States. The Bill of Rights
specifically embodies those values. For example, an American can claim to be a US citizen, but cannot call him/her self an American patriot and oppose freedom of speech or freedom of religion, because those liberties are fundamental rights that describe the liberties and freedoms guaranteed in our Founding documents.
In a nutshell, the set of values embodied in the constitution of the United States is the value system that I will use to interpret events and decide where I stand. If that makes me “Liberal” for defending the side of civil liberties, so be it. If that makes me idealistic, then you are calling Jefferson and Madison unrealistic and foolhardy as well. I hope to stay above the labeling game and focus on the issues.