As I observe the anger that has increasingly become a bedrock principle within our public discourse, I must ask why are liberals so detested by adversaries?
I'm not referring to the right wing-constructed piñata that is conveniently defined as the very embodiment of wasteful spending, arrogance and elitism.
Nor do I advocate that opposing political factions lock arms and sing kumbaya. There are real differences in their respective vision of the country, and those differences should be debated passionately in the court of public opinion.
Both sides of the left-right political continuum have their conspiracy theorists, irrational thinkers and wing nuts. But speaking as a proud liberal, I don't know anyone who fits the prototype offered by the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Ann Coulter.
What I find most remarkable are the negative connotations that liberals have been saddled with these past few decades.
Is liberalism the bastion of perfection? No. Moreover, when liberalism is in power, it needs the contrarian conservative voice lest it become consumed with its own arrogance; and the same holds true for the other side.
The dilemma that's presented for liberals is that there is no contrarian conservative voice. There is nothing within the current right-wing sophomoric rhetoric reminiscent of Edmund Burke, who is widely regarded as the patriarch of conservatism.
Current conservatism holds Ronald Reagan as the titular head of the Republican Party, but not much beyond that.
Conservatism and ostensibly the Republican Party are without ideas to address the complexity of the issues that confront the nation -- many of which were created on the GOP's watch.
I would have a better appreciation for the anger behind the health care legislation if a small portion of that fury were exhibited during the fiscal irresponsibility when Republicans controlled Congress six out of the eight years during President George W. Bush's administration.
There is a hint of disingenuousness associated with the current anger that cannot be denied. What I find most amusing and ironic is that many of those in frothing dissent against liberals owe liberal policies a debt of gratitude.
What would the country be without Social Security or Medicare? I suspect only the true believing wing nuts would argue that Social Security and Medicare have been bad for the country. Not only were these liberal policies, but at the time, conservative ideology initially opposed them.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 moved the nation closer to lofty ideals that it committed itself.
Historically, who has supported the troops more so than liberals? It was President Franklin Roosevelt who signed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, known to many as the G.I. Bill.
The bill offered college or vocational education for those returning from World War II. It also provided many different types of loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses.
The impact that the G.I. Bill had on education alone is staggering. In 1939, two years before America's entry into World War II, approximately 160,000 U.S. citizens were in college. By 1950, the figure had risen to nearly 500,000 due in large measure to the G.I. Bill.
The G.I. Bill has been a virtual gateway to the middle class.
As for the demonized liberal activist court, where do I begin?
Brown vs. Board of Education, which stated de jure segregation in public education, violated the 14th Amendment; I'm for that.
Gideon vs. Wainwright, which the Supreme Court ruled that courts are required under the 6th Amendment to provide counsel in criminal cases if the defendant can't afford his or her own attorney; I'm for that.
Miranda vs. Arizona, which states a defendant must be notified of his or her right to an attorney before being interrogated; I'm for that.
Loving vs. Virginia, which ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage; I'm for that one, too.
Can anyone honestly say we would be better off today without the aforementioned liberal polices of the 20th century?
Vietnam was indeed a disaster, and largely liberal presidents oversaw its escalation, but who was offering the contrarian perspective in 1964? It wasn't conservatives; it was, again, liberals.
I admit liberals can do a much better job of reminding people of their illustrious 20th century contributions. Alas, liberals, at least elected ones higher than dogcatcher, are hard to locate, and almost impossible to find on Capitol Hill.
It is an amazing political achievement in that those who have contributed least to society are the one's holding the historical bullhorn shouting those with the most contributions into submission.
Just imagine if so-called conservatism achieved half as much as liberals did in the 20th century.
Wouldn't we would be hearing about it ad nauseam?
Byron Williams is an Oakland pastor and syndicated columnist. He is the author of Strip Mall Patriotism: Moral Reflections of the Iraq War. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site byronspeaks.com
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