Sunday, January 15, 2017

Liberals: The New Values Voters

You hear it over and over again: "Values Voters".  And, as of this writing, the term is associated with conservative evangelicals.  And that, frankly, makes me bat-shit crazy.  The conservative machine has done a fabulous job of casting liberals as "moral relativists" on a sliding scale of morality.  And we have passively let them do it.  It's time to change that tune.  It's time to declare, loudly and unassailably, that liberals are the true Values Voters in America.

American Values Redefined?

Conservatives, in their co-opting of everything "good" about America, have also tried to claim a unique affinity for our founding documents.  But what could be more liberal than founding a new nation based on principles never before sewn into the fabric of government?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident.  That all men [people] are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  That among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Those are liberal values!  Equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are at the core of practically every platform of the democratic party.  And, at every turn in the history of this nation, it has been the conservative party (under whatever name) who fought to restrict the ability of people in this country to achieve those inalienable rights.  From opposing Abolition to opposing Suffrage to opposing Voting Rights to opposing the Freedom to Marry, conservative so-called "traditional American values" have been throwing themselves in front of the train of progress, in spite of their actions being in stark contradiction to the ideals laid out in the Declaration.  

So, I say to you, we, as liberals, are not redefining American Values, but reclaiming them from those who would opportunistically twist a liberal term to the purpose of restricting aspects of liberty that don't conform to their personal sensibilities.  Great evil has been wrought throughout American history because we have allowed this to happen.  Don't ever give up this high ground again.

Claiming American Values

When you are speaking to people about political and social issues, and the state of our nation, be clear about what you see as truly "American Values" and where you stand in ensuring they are defended, protected, and advanced.  I offer you these:
  • Equal Opportunity - to live, to work, to earn, to marry, to flourish, to decide
  • Equal Justice - regardless of status, background, history
  • Equal Respect - for individuals, for groups, for rights, for ideas, for choices
And for those of us who have, albeit unwittingly, grown up in the shelter and shadow of privilege, do not take for granted that we have all the greater role in speaking up and not backing down on behalf of those who may rightly be fearful of doing so themselves and what it may cost.  


  1. Beautifully and simply stated. It all does boil down to this.

  2. Thank you for this blog...I have seen the "definition" of liberal often describes as you mention. I work to reclaim our true character as the people who believe that all people have rights as ascribed by the constitution. I also work to counter false implications about what this nation was founded on. So, I stand with you in wanting to reaffirm our true values and beliefs :)