Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Great American, Patriotic Tradition of Dissent

E.J. Dionne wrote a great op-ed for Independence Day titled "A Dissident's Holiday." An excerpt:

...The true genius of America has always been its capacity for self-correction. I'd assert that this is a better argument for patriotism than any effort to pretend that the Almighty has marked us as the world's first flawless nation.

One need only point to the uses that Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. made of the core ideas of the Declaration of Independence against slavery and racial injustice to show how the intellectual and moral traditions of the United States operate in favor of continuous reform.

There is, moreover, a distinguished national tradition in which dissident voices identify with the revolutionary aspirations of the republic's founders.

There are those that who wish to retain their own power, or seize it, and there are those who work for the benefit of all to better honor the ideals of America. Dionne's op-ed reminded me of this exchange from the live debate during the final season of The West Wing:

Santos: I know you like to use that word "liberal" as if it were a crime.

Vinnick: No, I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have used that word. I know Democrats think "liberal" is a bad word. So bad you had to change it, didn't you? What do you call yourselves now? Progressives? Is that it?

Santos: It's true. Republicans have tried to turn "liberal" into a bad word. Well, liberals ended slavery in this country.

Vinnick: A Republican president ended slavery.

Santos: Yes, a liberal Republican, Senator. What happened to them? They got run out of your party. What did liberals do that was so offensive to the liberal party?

I'll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act.

What did conservatives do? They opposed every single one of those things. Every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet – "liberal" – as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work Senator. Because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.

Happy Independence Day!

1 comment:

Garry said...

Dissent has a price. In politics and life dissent is often met with much resistance. Some fail to realize that dissent is a precursor to needed change. Change is a natural event of which many fight tooth and nail. Particularly if the change results in a loss of power.