Bring it on, indeed

Despite some apprehension earlier, I really got excited listening to John Kerry's 'acceptance' speech last night. A lot of people will be saying that Kerry and the Democrats at large will destroy themselves with 'negativity' while Bush and his happy-go-lucky deceptions will coast to victory, painting Kerry as bitter, aloof, patrician, blah, blah, blah. But Kerry is skillfully turning his condemnation of Bush's record into a question of values. Josh Marshall says it best:

...it plays to what should, and I believe will, be a central theme of this election: that the Bush administration has been a for-the-moment and for-itself operation, burning through the resources of tomorrow and the hard-acquired inheritance of the past to service the political needs -- its political needs -- of the present.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but, if Kerry is successful with this kind of message, it may go a long way towards rehabilitating the term 'liberal' in American political discourse, i.e., reviving the powerful formulation that word enjoyed earlier in the century, when 'liberal' denoted a public figure who understood the real meaning of being a 'uniter', who favored common sense and an unflinching commitment to discovering the facts over partisanship and blind ideology, who detested the cronyism, secrecy, and callous greed bred by abuse of government but simultaneously understood the power and benefit of a progressive, active state. These are values that anyone can understand, because they are at root universal American values. You don't have to believe in a certain God or chain yourself to certain laws to cherish these values, unlike the 'values' the far-right is interested in. And I suspect there are a critical mass of people out there who, if Kerry's message is able to break through, will find these ideas very appealing.


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