Thursday, May 30, 2013

Taking Up The Sword Again: For Steve Gilliard

You know, being "Strong: Progressive" hasn't been easy the last year or so. Several deaths of people close to me, a couple of surgeries of my own, the concomitant emotional depression that followed, combined with a heartfelt frustration at the state of our body politic, left me mute with rage and sorrow for the past several months. I've looked at our divided country, and wondered how we came to this pass. I've worried about the future of our Republic, this great American experiment, which was never designed to withstand such concentrated greed, mass ignorance, and widespread apathy. I've despaired that positive, substantial change could be made, and that my little blog and I could make any kind of lasting contribution.

Then the other day I came across Steve Gilliard's blog, still online all these years after his untimely death at the age of forty-two. Steve was an early African-American political blogger, and one of the first contributing editors of the Daily Kos. His courageous and influential writing was one of the first political blogs I'd ever read, and a major influence on my own entry into the blogosphere. And I reread his best-known post, "I'm A Fighting Liberal." Let me share some of it with you:

I'm a fighting liberal

You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

What has conservatism given America? A stable social order? A peaceful homelife? Respect for law and order? No. Hell, no. It hasn't given us anything we didn't have and it wants to take away our freedoms.

The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, slaveowners and pornographers, smugglers and terrorists, understood one thing, a man's path to God needed no help from the state. Is the religion of these conservatives so fragile that they need the state to prop it up, to tell us how to pray and think? Is that what they stand for? Is that their America?


For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment. It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers.


Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit [sic] of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense. We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it.


It is time to stop looking for an accomodation [sic] with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?  

I started this blog to speak up, speak out, and raise hell; to identify and illuminate injustices and indignities in American and international politics; to praise the heroes and curse the villains in our world today. And especially, to laugh at the fools, of which there are more than a few! I write to offer my vision and opinions to the world at large, because no one sees the world exactly the same, and I believe that I have something worthwhile to offer in my thoughts and words. I write because I'm damned by the conservatives anyway, so I might as well be damned for something I did as for something I didn't do! I blog because every word written in the cause of progressive politics advances our movement, and also because every additional word in defense of liberalism angers the opposition to no end. I write because that's what I do, I'm liberal because that's what I believe, and I fight because that's how we'll win.

Thank you Steve, for reminding me that I too am a fighting liberal. Watch out world: I'm back.