Sunday, April 24, 2005

Historical amnesia

I'm working on several pieces right now – one on how to change minds and one on why I am a Democrat. Up popped this excerpt from Joe Conason’s knockout of a book, Big Lies. You’ve seen the piece; post-election it was emailed around under the title “Thank a Liberal.” I’m posting it because today is a rainy day, because I need the inspiration, and because it bears repeating. Over and over and over.

If Americans have a common fault, however, it's our tendency to suffer from historical amnesia. Too many of us have forgotten, or never learned, what kind of country America was under the conservative rule that preceded the century of liberal reform. And too many of us have no idea whose ideas and energy brought about the reforms we now take for granted.

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights – you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable – you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family – you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green – you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society – you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism – with the support of the American people. – Joe Conason, Big Lies.

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