• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    riverdaughter on Shiny Happy People
    riverdaughter on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    riverdaughter on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Oh yes Republicans would like…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    William on Jeopardy!
    jmac on Jeopardy!
    William on Jeopardy!
    riverdaughter on Oh yes Republicans would like…
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

  • Top Posts

Liberalism opposes absolutism

[Cross-posted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri]

In current American discourse, liberal is all too often equated with Democrat and conservative with Republican. But there are relatively illiberal Democrats and relatively liberal Republicans. Liberalism is a brand of thought that long predates the existence of the United States of America and both of its current political parties, each of which has had episodes of illiberalism and contains strands of illiberalism today.

Although liberalism is usually seen as the dominant ideology of the Western democracies, with its roots in Enlightenment thought, there are many variations and hybrids of its doctrines. Nevertheless it is clear what liberalism is opposed to: namely, political absolutism in all its forms, be they monarchist, feudal, military, clerical, or communitarian. In this opposition it attempts to ensure that individuals and groups can resist any authoritarian demands. In practice, this has most commonly meant a split between (on the one hand) a public world and a private world where rights are defined, the most common of which are to private property, and (on the other) the free exercise of religion, speech, and association. [source]

Liberals traditionally resisted absolutism in social and civic life as well as politics directly, believing, along with John Stuart Mill, one of the founders of modern liberalism, in the value of experiments in living.

In opposing absolutism, liberalism places an emphasis on the autonomy of the individual. Autonomy here means the individual’s ability for and right to self-direction constrained only by the need to permit similar autonomy for others. Liberalism is a concept with a history in political theory and philosophy dating back at least to the Enlightenment. In the current political environment in the United States of America many people have lost track of the defining features of liberalism, and the particular strand of it that is American liberalism. The founders of this country were strongly influenced by European Enlightenment thought, and our Constitution bears that stamp.

It is entirely unsurprising that as liberals many liberals rejected Barack Obama as a Presidential candidate or find his performance as President-elect wanting. From the perspective of a strong liberal, Mr. Obama does not share, or does not share fully enough, liberalism’s commitment to the realization of individual autonomy particularly in the face of powerful forces that tend to work against it. Some indications of Mr. Obama’s illiberalism:

  • His twenty year membership in a church whose pastor endorsed anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan and preached doctrines favoring the use of terrorist violence against individual civilians.
  • His willingness to disenfranchise the individuals who voted in Michigan’s and Florida’s primaries.
  • His vote to provide immunity to companies that aided and abetted government eavesdropping and spying upon individual U.S. citizens.
  • His refusal to object to mobocratic measures taken on his behalf that enabled him to claim the Democratic Party nomination (e.g. his silence on the Democratic Party’s disregard for its own rules and procedures for selecting a nominee).
  • His bent toward creating mechanisms that conflate the political with the civic and the social, particularly when the conflation advances his personal political identity (e.g. house parties to carry his personal movement forward under the banner of mybarackobama; the use of invented seals to collapse preexisting government institutions – e.g., the office of the president – with his own political machinery – e.g., “the office of the president-elect”).
  • His elevation to the spotlight of a woman-bashing, gay-hating cleric.

Liberalism does not mistake toleration (e.g. social and political freedom for woman-bashing gay hating clerics to practice their religion) for endorsement, tacit or otherwise. Liberalism does not short-circuit procedures meant to protect individual interests and rights in the name of a specific preferred outcome (e.g. finagling pre-established publicly promulgated procedures that, however inconveniently, failed to produce a nominee for the Democratic Party at the end of June).

Liberalism does not applaud the herd mentality.

“The majority, being satisfied with the ways of mankind as they now are (for it is they who make them what they are), cannot comprehend why those ways should not be good enough for everybody; and what is more, spontaneity forms no part of the ideal of the majority of moral and social reformers, but is rather looked on with jealousy, as a troublesome and perhaps rebellious obstruction to the general acceptance of what these reformers, in their own judgment, think would be best for mankind.” On Liberty, John Stuart Mill (1859), Chapter III, On Individuality as One of the Elements of Wellbeing

No We Won’t Year in Review & Thank You & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Puma’s, we certainly had a very interesting and unsettling year politically. In my little part of the PUMA movement, I created the blog talk radio show called No We Won’t. The first show aired was a half hour long and might be good primer for anyone who might wonder why any one of us became a PUMA. The first show aired on June 21st, 2008. It was just little old me and some of my friends from a website called Capital Hill All of us who ended up posting at Capital Hill were previous members of another “progressive” board. The “progressive” board was over taken in mid January by aggressive Obama supporters who forced thousands of Hillary supporters off the site. They did it through intimidation, complaining, outright rudeness and finally threats. As much as this board tried to force me off, I was a member for years, I continued to post until May. That is when Obama supporters started to harass me through private messaging and stalking me around the web. I lasted as long as I could to be a voice for the many who just couldn’t take it. Capital Hill is where the saying No We Won’t (in response to Yes We Can) was born.

My second show featured Will Bower of PUMA/JSND. This is what started a bi-weekly airing of No We Won’t. Numerous guests for the show were scheduled and thousands of people listened. Here is a quick walk down memory lane of some of the guests that appeared on No We Won’t:

Cynthia Ruccia – Women for Fair Politics

Darragh Murphy – PUMA PAC

Pauli Abeles – Real Democrats

Marilu Sochur – Real Democrats

Harriet Christian – PUMA

Riverdaughter – The Confluence

Alegre – Alegre’s Corner

Liz/ Sista Christian Loubouitin – Hire Heels

Texas Darlin

Lanny Davis

Ricki Lieberman

Deb Bartosevich – stripped WI Hillary Delegate

Ed O’Reilly – MA Senate Candidate

300 – Group who gathered signatures Hillary’s for the roll call in Denver

Brad Mays – Filmmaker, Audacity of Democracy

Diane Mantavoulos – Hire Heels

Lynnette Long

Sacha Millstone – threatened CO Hillary delegate

Heidi Li Feldman – Heidi Li’s Potpourri

Gloria Allred – Darragh Murphy interview

Marie Cocco – Washington Post columnist

Gigi Gaston, Bettina Viviano – Film – We Will Not Be Silenced

I traveled to Washington DC to partake in the first PUMA conference. It was a blast. It was great to put faces with names.

I traveled to Denver for the Convention and aired live there for the listeners who couldn’t make it to Denver.

No We Won’t airs on Sundays at 8pm eastern, The Lions Share airs on Wednesdays at 8pm eastern, and we have added to our line up. Conflucians Say airs every Thursday at 10pm eastern, Free US Now with Betty Jean Kling airs every Tuesday at 9pm eastern and The View From Under the Bus (a Conflucian Production) airs intermittently on Wednesdays at 9:30pm eastern.

The station is in holiday mode right now, but will return next week. Thank you to all of the listeners who called into the show or just plain old listened, nearly 70,000 of you at last count. It’s been quite an experience!

Thank You!!

Sheri Tag

May God Bless and Keep You Always!

You — my readers, my friends, my family — have been my rock, my sustenance, my touch stone throughout this year.

As a community, we have all been that for each other — and for all of it, I give thanks.


And May Your Year Be Sweet — Filled with Chocolate and Sweet Moments


Who could have imagined one year ago that our PUMA community would materialize out of thin air? Who could have known that we would spend the year in a fight for the Democracy we have known? Who would have foreseen that they would have given so much to this fight, and given up or suspended so much that they took for-granted before — career, friends, family, colleagues and associates — in order to take a stand for something that seemed so obvious? It was the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, and we could not deny it. Like Hillary, we found our voice, individually, and collectively. And we still are here . . . testifying.

And you? To whom do you give thanks? And . . . who in your life keeps you young?

And how about this: what did You do in 2008 that you could never have imagined a year ago?

And: what do you want to do this year, in any domain, for sake of what really matters to you?

Happy 2009, Everybody!

Please press play — the heart-swells will be worth it . . .

Forever Young

by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Thursday: Is The Confluence a liberal blog?

Duh!  Have you read our Credo?

Yes, we are a liberal blog.

But, but, but, some of you voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Believe me, that was not an easy decision for some of us.  Some of us cried afterwards.  But we made it clear that we didn’t vote for them because we are closet Republicans.  In fact, we disagreed with just about everything they stood for, although, we think they were much more serious about dealing with the bailout bill as it was happening.

Ours were protest votes.  We were protesting the un-Democratic manner in which Barack Obama was selected as our party’s nominee.  You didn’t really think we would be stupid enough to reward that outrage of unfairness and cheating, did you?  How Republican would that have been?  It would mean that our primary season is meaningless.  It would mean that hooliganism and stacking the deck and cherry picking is OK.  It would reduce voting to a pointless exercise. We predict that that will come back to haunt the party in four years.

I think it is time for Obama Democrats to come to terms with this.  Actually, Democrats have a very Jewish attitude about doing something wrong.  Many of them will feel guilty for the next four years.  You Obamaphiles who are reading this have spent half a year rationalizing and denying the truth to yourselves.  You *know* that what went on in the primaries that cost Hillary the nomination was wrong.  You used every nasty Republican generated meme against Hillary even though you knew they were false.  You know in your hearts that it is wrong to discriminate against the gay community.  You know that the sexism that brought Hillary down was a sin against everything you believed.  But the bloodlust was singing in your ears and you were so determined to win at all costs that you allowed yourselves to get swept up in the moment.  You bought into the false narrative that Barack Obama was the savior that would sweep generations of segregation and narrow minded behavior into the dustbin of history.

Then he turned around and invited Rick Warren to his inauguration.

See, a real liberal would never do such a thing.

I’ve spend more than a decade running from the label “liberal”.  I’ve tried on “progressive” and “moderate” and “centrist”.  I prefer to say that I am a Rational Democrat.  And for most of us rationalists, that means we are liberals.  We believe in the equality of all people regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.  We believe in social justice, that even if you aren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth that you deserve the same opportunities as those who were.  We believe in justice for all, not just for the moneyed few.  We believe that people should be able to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps and that means giving them boots. We believe in fiscal responsibility.  We believe in deficit spending when it serves the purpose of building new infrastructure.  We believe in paying our taxes.  We believe in privacy.  We believe that a woman’s body is her own.  We believe in sustainability and a healthy planet.  We believe that we already have all the strength we need to rule the world but what we need is diplomacy so that we don’t ever have to use it.

In none of our beliefs is there a single issue mentality.  We do not advocate for one group over another or one cause over another.  We live by the preamble of the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Union. Common. General Welfare.  Blessings of Liberty.  Justice.  It doesn’t get any more liberal than that.

So, you Obamaphiles out there who are objecting to our inclusion as a nominee for Best Liberal Blog for the 2008 Weblog Awards have to ask yourselves, are you liberal?  The Blessings of Liberty mean suffrage and choice.  We, as liberals, would never prevent you from choosing to vote for any of the other blogs on the list just as we would never prevent, intimidate, harrass, mislead or threaten delegates at the 2008 Democratic Convention from voting for the candidate of their constituents’ choice.

That’s liberal and we are proud to count ourselves as liberals.