Late Nite FDL: Progressives Are Values Voters
This is what Republican "values" look like: torture and sexual perversion.
Digby has a great post up (how often have I typed those words?) about the necessary maturation of the netroots into a ideological movement, overcoming its sometime conceit that we have no political ideology beyond winning and throwing Republicans out.
The fight this past week over torture, in contrast with the GOP's Predator Coverup, shows two different values systems at war with each other for the soul and the future of the country. The Grand Old Pervert party stands for shameless corruption, profiteering and the domestic police state, among other things. Not only can you not trust Republicans with your government (Katrina), your military (Iraq) or your money (Abramoff, Iraq, the deficit, the economy, etc.), you apparently can't trust Republicans with your kids (Predator Coverup).
On the other hand, our Blue America candidates all stand for progressive values, and many, like John Laesch (raised by missionaries) and Angie Paccione, speak very directly about faith and values as connected to politics.
A while back, I drafted some material for our Roots Project community I'd like to make public for community review. While this is not the final word, I think some fairly close approximation of what follows represents what we de facto think of as progressive values in the netroots, and among our Blue America candidates. I wrote all this before Republicans boldly declared themselves the party of torture, but I think what follows below still holds up.
The important thing is not to quibble endlessly over framing, but for our purposes tonight, to recognize and acknowledge that we are indeed values voters, and by whatever standard, protecting vulnerable teens from sexual harrassment and predation, as well as opposition to torture, are all fundamental to us as believers in the common good and accountability. And speaking of accountability, the overwhelming question for the whole right wing, from Bush and Cheney (see Bob Woodward and Scooter Libby) to Hastert and Boehner (Abramoff, Delay, Foley), is the classic, "What did they know and when did they know it?"
Anyway, here's what we posted at the Roots Project beta (I won't link to it because it's not yet ready for prime time. We got community feedback on the beta and have decided to try to do this infrastructure development right, and not just fast. I think the extra time has been and will be well invested):
There have been many discussions over the last few years designed to articulate our core values as progressives. We don't pretend here to have the last word in that conversation. What you'll find here is more like a summary of many of those conversations. What follows here has been informed not only by countless hours of reading articles and arguments across the Internet, but also by this excellent research and analysis.
People in this community can certainly disagree with parts of what I'm about to write here, but for the most part, I expect people here will find themselves more in aggreement than in dissent from what follows below.
Fairness: We don't believe human society is inherently fair, but we do believe it is the role of government to create and enforce the law and to pursue justice, irrespective of persons or concentrated corporate power. We further believe in protecting the rights of those in the minority from the tyranny of the majority. As progressives, we proudly lay claim to the civil rights history of this country, noting that all advances for women, African Americans and others came through the efforts of our philosophical forbears. We continue the struggle to create a more just and fair society in the 21st Century. In international affairs, we encourage the spread of human liberty first and foremost through the promotion of treaties, alliances and the development of international standards that reflect a profound respect for the rights of free people to determine their own fates.
Accountability: We believe as members of a national (and international) community that the actions of one affect the whole community. None of us is an island. Therefore, we are accountable to each other. That accountability implies responsibility, but not only in one direction. As individuals, we are accountable to the community to behave and act as good citizens. As members of a community, we are accountable to individuals to create the basic public conditions that protect the rights of individuals while also providing them the basic tools they can use to succeed and grow in society. It is not the community's responsibility to guarantee anyone a livelihood or a life of means, but it is incumbent on the community to provide basic tools like strong public education, a clean environment and other basic, public goods that together promote stability and security.
Opportunity: We believe that society is strongest which best approximates a meritocracy. Though human societies by their nature tend to aggregate power in the hands of social networks accustomed to exercising power either by habit or birthright, the most stable, successful and just human societies actively work to create the conditions whereby human talent can arise from any segment of society in any walk of life. As Americans, we have always succeeded through innovation, perfecting the art of making the impossible somehow possible, and we do it through unleashing the talents of common people. Strong public education and access to affordable health care are basic conditions that allow people to learn and grow, so as progressives, we strongly support those national priorities. What's more, because we believe in the power of human ingenuity to improve communal life, we constantly look for ways to encourage the talent and initiative of the "little guy," including individuals and small to medium sized businesses who cannot afford to hire lobbyists to write protective, favorable laws that ultimately protect the narrow, anticompetitive interests of modern global corporate conglomerates.
Investment: Even as we champion the importance to the community of a vibrant, innovative private sector, we recognize that some irreplaceable communal good comes from pooling the resources of all members of society to create the basic conditions for people and the private sector to flourish. It is the role of government to discover and meet these needs judiciously yet expeditiously. Roads must be built and maintained. A free, open, non-discriminating Internet provides the conditions through which people can communicate, start new businesses, reach new customers, organize, innovate, learn and grow. Public investments in our people (for example, through education) and in our communal infrastructure protect our collective security and stability. What's more, it is the role of government to define our security not only in terms of threats presented by international enemies or terrorists, but also in terms of the health and viability of our planet. Progressives stand in agreement that the scientific case for a man-made, global climate crisis is overwhelming, requiring immediate national and international political leadership to stave of the direst of outcomes through public investment, incentives for private sector investment and policies which taken together would promote the rapid deployment of existing technologies to radically reduce man-made carbon emissions. As progressives, we believe in the importance of making communal investments to protect not only ourselves in the present, but also our children and descendents in the future.
What do you think? Are you a values voter? Are these ideas generally representative of progressive values? Again, there is much that can be added to this framework to illustrate the core values mentioned, and others would no doubt emphasize other examples. I have another long page attempting to apply these values to a range of issues, but that's too much to quote here tonight. But does this stuff feel wrong, or close to being right, to you?