Tag Archives: liberal

Obama As Progressive

Obama’s announcement about his feelings towards gay marriage signals a shift in American cultural history. The conservative reactions range from accusations of “radical social engineering” to schadenfreude at how foolishly Obama is behaving. Why does it all matter? There is no action implied – no legislation or acts in process.  It matters because of the values enforced. Obama is signaling a shift in what is considered to be normal. He is the authority of the land, and conservative’s top two values are authority and tradition.

A progressives top value is empathy; that is why the President’s announcement was such a happy moment. It really isn’t that everyone knows a gay couple lining up to get married, the issue is one of civil rights. It’s also a testament to a “live and let live” attitude that is part of the American identity.

As the general election heads our way, much of the progressive base was grumbling a bit about Obama. This announcement gives progressives something to point at, we all know in our gut when something goes mainstream. Gay marriage just went mainstream. It’s okay for families to be themselves. This offer of goodwill does so much to energize the base because it strongly reinforces the empathy value. If instead Obama had spoken of some thin legal line that GLBT families could walk to to get some rights, the reception would have been cold. This is an issue based on principles and they are not very complicated.

In hard times, you’ve got to feed your base, otherwise they will become disinterested or disconnected from what is happening. Trying to appeal to the “middle” is no use and while it might look ok on a political calculator the reality is that playing to the middle deactivates both sides of the debate. The middle is imaginary. Averaging positions out over a broad range of socioeconomic issues is not an effective measure of ones political stance; the linear concept of left to right is flawed. Most voters tend to be left, right, ambiguous, or ignorant on each individual issue. People don’t advocate “mostly killing” criminals on death row; they either believe in the death penalty or not. Nuances of the law may also be accepted or rejected, but each decision can be broken down into yes or no answers. All of these answers will not line up neatly on the spectrum of liberal to conservative. That is why when speaking in an empathetic manner, many of those “switches” around issues will be flipped simultaneously to an empathetic perspective. When you change someone’s mind at the very root of their thinking, the cascading effect is exponentially successful to trying to win each individual policy nuance. This is why walking the middle is counterproductive for either side of the debate.

I wrote a previous post about this here.

Even though compromise is necessary to govern, rhetoric goes a long way to building expectations and values as a people. Obama’s move will produce more good than harm because at its root are those empathetic, all American values of peace, prosperity, equality, opportunity, love, and even tradition. We all can relate to that and most of us can attest to a moral code that honors love and committment.

 

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Energy the hard way and easy way

Gas is on the rise, you can’t help but notice. Only those in a truly local, non-motorized economy are insulated from its effect on the wallet. Ouch. Nothing so consistently messes with our costs of living from filling up our tanks, to filling up our pantries. The rise in energy costs is nearly unavoidable. Already in the middle of a “green” trend, energy jumps into an even higher priority role on the national stage.

There are the drillers and frackers – they think America is on its way to energy independence through finding our own fossil fuel reserves. It’s like seeing a kid get a huge tin of caramel corn at Christmas. The kid eats some, goes into a sugar altered state, then hugs the tin to their chest imagining all of the sugar filled days ahead. Within a week or two though – depending on how hungry and how vulnerable the popcorn supply is to breaches of security – the kid realizes that the popcorn will actually not last forever, though it is a sizable pile. The kid feels greedy and desperate to keep his pile intact. He may go into conservation mode, he may gorge himself to the point of illness, or he could mishandle the tin and spill a sizable amount. Continue reading

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By the Book

In this age of social media and networking, we are deluged with information daily. We talk, text, tweet and email back and forth, then on top of that we join organization and list serves that forward their news. Sometimes we get forwarded stuff that we don’t like. The following is a forwarded message I received and the response I sent back:

ONE MINUTE EACH NIGHT

This is the scariest election we as Christians have ever faced, and from the looks of the polls, The Christians aren’t voting Christian values. We all need to be on our knees.  Do you believe we can take God at His word? Call upon His name, then stand back and watch His wonders unfold. This scripture gives us, as Christians, ownership of this land and the ability to call upon God to heal it.

I challenge you to do that. We have never been more desperate than now for God to heal our land. This election is the scariest I remember in my lifetime.

2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray,
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from
heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

During WWII, there was an advisor to Churchill, who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed hour for one minute, to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace. This had an amazing effect, as bombing stopped.

There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America .

The United States of America , and our citizens, need prayer more than ever!!! If you would like to participate, each evening at 9:00 P.M. Eastern Time (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific), stop whatever you’re doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, for peace in the world, the upcoming election, that the Bible will remain the basis for the laws governing our land, and that Christianity will grow in the U.S.

If you know anyone who would like to participate, please pass this along.  Someone said if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.

Thank you. Please pass this on to anyone who you think will want to join us. God Bless You!!!

(end email forward)

So this kind of thing gets my blood boiling. 90% of it is either good hearted or at least a harmless exercise (if you don’t believe in prayer or God). I can’t think of a good reason for anyone – atheist, Muslim, or Hare Krishna – to begrudge a group of people from praying if they choose too. The remaining 10% though (which I believe is the whole reason the email forward piece was created), crosses the line from a commendable suggestion for solidarity to a subversive play to push the Bible as a founding document for the nation. As Lakoff taught me, simply getting these words to the eyes of thousands of people (via “viral” email) turns our brains on and normalizes the concepts presented. Seeing them, thinking them, and hearing them makes the reality a bit more possible – even if there isn’t a huge action item around it.

Here is my response to the email:

The power of love, people pulling together and God, is awesome. I can get on board with that. I would add something about helping all of the people of the world to find peace and feel secure. However, there is one part of this suggestion that I feel is dangerous, “the Bible will remain the basis for laws governing our land”. The Bible has never been the basis for laws governing our land, The Constitution is the document that is the basis for governing our land; it was the only document agreed upon by the founders.

If I thought that everyone would interpret the Bible the same way that I do, in a way that promotes Christ-like unconditional love and acceptance of your fellow human, I could get behind a push to change our founding documents. However, we all know that there is no one way that people interpret the Bible (nor any hope or effort at consensus). There are a whole lot of folks out there talking about the Bible that do not promote Christ like love, they use the Bible as a tool to get what they want and to persecute others. I find that extremely offensive. I would never want someone to be in power that used the Bible for their own personal agenda or power plays.

This is very difficult to write because I know many people I love very much might disagree with me and are on this list. I purposefully don’t engage in politics with much of my family because emotions run high and I would rather spend the little time I see my extended family doing more joyful things (like loving them unconditionally!). I feel very strongly that there should be a separation of church and state, the first amendment establishes that. While we might be a nation chock full of Christians, we’ve gotten there without having a national religion and we are not a nation governed by Christianity.

Any leader or citizen can use the Bible and their spiritual beliefs as a template for life, no one is saying it cannot be included as a personal guide. If you like how a candidate is guided by the spirit, by all means, vote for them! Work to get the principles that motivate and inspire you to be implemented into our laws, but please, please, please keep the roulette wheel of Biblical interpretation out of our laws (it’s hard enough to deal with interpretations of our secular documents). I would never want a “Fred Phelps” kind of Christian anywhere near a governing body (his church’s website is here).

I believe there is a faction of people out there that want an audience of good hearted Christians to be on their side – which for the most part, they are – but their real agenda is to change the foundation of this country’s laws to be religious laws. As an American and as a Christian, I have to stand firm and say “NO!”

I love many of you, don’t know some of you, and this is in response to someone I love and respect very, very much. Most importantly for me, I love God, Jesus, and I do try to pattern my life after his. That is why even though my fingers are a little shaky and my stomach is churning a bit, I’m still going to press send.

Peace to us all,
Amy Meier

(On a personal note, this is where the rubber meets the road for me. I am the most liberal person in my large extended family; if there are other liberals in my family, they keep it on the down low – my family culture does not take kindly to liberal rhetoric and is not afraid to say so. I was born in the heartland of the country, in the bible belt and feel like a bit of a “black sheep” when I am there because the conservative Christian culture pervades life at every facet. I also kept most of my views on the down low to keep the peace. I love my family. They are kind, loving, generous, and accepting of me and all of my personal faults. They are the real reason I am so passionate about having civil discourse – but it is still exhausting to get into political battles with them when I’d rather just enjoy time together. The conservative Christian culture is so pervasive that I am often included (though I don’t think it is a secret that I am a liberal) in an assumption that things are, or should be, a particular way. Today is the day I publicly “outed myself. The gloves are off… but it’s because I want to shake hands (or hug) and start this election season with a respectful, meaningful exchange.)

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Conservatives of Late, Liberals Underestimate

For those of you who missed it, George Lakoff wrote a new article about Republican strategy – not just Republican strategy but the extreme social conservatives. This strategy is personified in Rick Santorum but is mimicked by the other candidates in trying to out-do each other with more and more socially regressive rhetoric. I am re-posting because it is a great point made by a guy who studies brains and language, and who is passionately progressive.

He really does knock it out of the park so I won’t go into his article fully here, but the ideas are worth repeating (and repeating and repeating). Progressives must stop being self congratulatory and stop lampooning the social conservatives; they are serious contenders to rule this country. To a progressive, many of the phrases, ideas, and supporters for the Republican primary are laughable. The ideas seem backwards and unpopular, the gaffes are unforgiveable, the facts are often non-existent. Progressive love using facts to make their arguments and tend to act as if everyone has the same level of interest and respect for their version of the facts. This attitude is fatal to connecting with an electorate. Continue reading

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Bell of Liberty

It’s been a good week for right wing media when you consider any publicity is good publicity. Of course there is the Rush flap, but another “blockbuster” was supposedly going to make Obama’s re-election dead in the water. Andrew Breitbart, before his unexpected demise, promised a video clip that would ruin Obama. Posthumously his website has released the so-called damaging footage to an underwhelmed audience. Different news sources have pointed out that the footage was not “hidden”, it had been aired as late as 2008, and the “blow” it delivers to Obama’s campaign will probably be weathered just fine.

The truth is that the information called attention to in the ‘Derrick Bell” video is info that may further piss off his current crop of haters, but it does very little to shock or offend his current supporters. The big deal about this video is that Obama introduced Derrick Bell – a controversial figure in the arena of race and politics – and seems to know this person!

I think the line that the Breitbart site is pushing is, “white liberals are oppressors”. Perhaps they think that a statement like that coming from a right wing news site will turn the tide of opinion against Obama. There is something that Breitbart and his colleagues really don’t get about liberals – they love to learn.

Continue reading

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