"The most basic liberal values are political equality and economic opportunity. Liberals uphold democracy as the only form of government that derives legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and they regard the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights as essential to the expression of popular consent. Their commitment to an expanding democracy is what drives liberal advocacy on behalf of women, minorities, gays, immigrants, and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.
Liberals value the dynamism and creativity of democratic capitalism, but they also believe in strong, active government to protect the interests of society. They understand that markets function best when properly regulated, and they also know that unchecked concentrations of private power encourage environmental pollution, financial fraud, and labor exploitation. Liberals see a broad social interest in ensuring real opportunities and decent standards of living for everyone, while requiring basic responsibility from everyone.
Those who regard such ideals as naive today should remember that America in the 20th century was built on liberal policy, from the Progressive Era through the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the GI Bill, and the Great Society. The modern economy -- a private enterprise system that relies on government safeguards against depression and extreme poverty -- is the legacy of liberal leadership, from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. (And more recently Bill Clinton, who erased Republican deficits that were sending the economy into a spiral of recession and began to pay down the national debt.) Liberal policies made America the freest, wealthiest, most successful and most powerful nation in human history. Conservatism in power always threatens to undo that national progress, and is almost always frustrated by the innate decency and democratic instincts of the American people.
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.
Whether they now describe themselves as liberal or not, most Americans remain strongly progressive in their views about taxation, healthcare, education spending, Social Security, environmental protection, and corporate regulation. In fact, despite conservative political advances in recent decades, survey evidence gathered by pollsters of all persuasions suggests that Americans are still more liberal than conservative."
Fom Joe Conason's new book Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth. Buy it on Amazon
who is a liberal through and through, and damn proud of it