Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Paradigms For Sale

The Constitution does not speak of freedom of contract. It speaks of liberty and prohibits the deprivation of liberty without due process of law. In prohibiting that deprivation, the Constitution does not recognize an absolute and uncontrollable liberty. Liberty in each of its phases has its history and connotation. But the liberty safeguarded is liberty in a social organization which requires the protection of law against the evils which menace the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the people. Liberty under the Constitution is thus necessarily subject to the restraints of due process, and regulation which is reasonable in relation to its subject and is adopted in the interests of the community is due process. -- Chief Justice of the Unitedt States Supreme Court Charles Evans Hughes, WEST COAST HOTEL CO. V. PARRISH , 300 U.S. 379 (1937)
There, in a nutshell, is what a liberal, progressive platform should be.

"We will protect your freedoms." Ok, the wording needs to be cleaned up, but the image we need to leave in voters' minds is one of a knight or a hired gun, taking on the bad guys and beating them back.

True freedom, true liberty, can come only when the individual in a nation is free from worry, from inequality (not talking about prejudice, altho that is part of it) and from power of any kind.

The best society is one where people have banded together to watch out for each other without interfering in each other's lives. That is freedom.

Government, by extension, works best when it provides opportunity and protection from the inequities of power as represented by influence and wealth. When wealth can avail itself of the advantages of power and the advantages of governmental protection, an inequitable system has been created where working people, whose income is wholly dependent on the monied classes, can and likely will bear the brunt of protecting society as a whole.

Meanwhile, the working classes will receive the least benefit from this society. After all, freedom is just a word for nothing left to lose, and the less you have, the less you need physical protection. You can be free, because who would want to take anything from someone who has nothing?

Conversely, the more you have, the more you need physical protection.

This is in large part the rationale behind a progressive tax system: those who have and continue to benefit the most from the bounty of this nation are required to fund a larger proportion of its needs.

The nifty trick the right wing has accomplished is in equating the rich and powerful, and in particular, corporations, with "the people", thus populising that which by definition is elitist. When conservatives talk about "the people," or "compassion," or "economic freedom," you can bet this involves giving more booty to the richest among us.

Leaving the check for the rest of us to pick up.

The revolution starts by taking the weakest link in the chain back out: government. Government is the only entity with both the resources and the force of law behind it to protect people like you, and me, and him, and her, from the predations of rampant abuse by those who should know better and moreover, should be more grateful to us.

We, the people, deserve universal health care.

We, the people, deserve universal public education through college.

We, the people, deserve universal child care for working parents.

We, the people, deserve a voice to speak up for us, collectively, against those who collect against us.

We, the people, deserve guarantees that no longer will government and corporations conspire against us to deprive us of our God-given freedom.

We, the people, deserve the opportunity this nation has promised us from the cradle onward.

We, the people, deserve our nation back!