Loyalty

I’ve suggested that liberals need ways to encapsulate what they are for. Previously I suggested we invest in America. Here’s another theme we should strike – loyalty. That’s right – loyalty.

Loyalty means conserving America. Teddy Roosevelt jump started the conservation movement, creating our first national parks. But instead of conserving America’s land, soil, resources and rivers, government supports agricultural practices that erode the soil and send it into the Gulf and the oceans, along with pollutants that destroy the fishing grounds. There are plenty of ways to support farms and business that add lasting value to our country. Squandering our natural and economic resources is disloyal.

Loyalty means protecting each other. We spend billions to keep terrorists off planes but government supports a food supply chain that makes us sickly mountains of flesh and threatens our hearts and lungs. That’s disloyal.

Loyalty means protecting our country. But failing to stop global warming quickly will submerge three American coasts, where most of our people live, and turn many fellow Americans into refugees. No help from the Republicans who want to make it all voluntary, which has meant minimal action and ever greater pollution and warming. That’s disloyal.

Loyalty means giving support to our allies, not to our enemies. Supporting petroleum over alternative energy fattens the very regimes which have supported terrorists. Wiping out the balanced budget in the previous Administration put us in debt to our enemies. Giving tax breaks to the wealthy instead of rebuilding the American economy and infrastructure means sending capital abroad. That’s disloyal.

Loyalty means making this world safer for America. Instead we’ve squandered our sons’ and daughters’ lives, our international good will and our world leadership to support the petroleum industry. We’ve sustained the terrorist recruiting effort with a foolish war in Iraq and made it harder to deal with the real challenges posed by Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea. Now we struggle to catch up as China threatens much of southern Asia.

Loyalty is not just tough talk, flexing muscles and brandishing weapons. There is no loyalty in deploying our troops on fools’ errands or squandering our assets for the benefit of a few.

Loyalty means taking on the problems of the country, not standing by while millions are out of work through no fault of their own, while people are denied health care, while the innocent children of immigrants are denied an education, their parents abused out of fear of asking police for help, while women are brought here under false pretenses and turned into sex slaves, and while the vast majority of us work harder and harder so that the rich can have ever more lavish lives.

Disdain for each other isn’t any form of love, “tough love” or otherwise. Loyalty is not abusing the political system in favor of minority rule and money over people.

Liberals understand loyalty – to our country and to each other. This liberal proudly bleeds for those in need. And this liberal proudly stands for an America that can lead the world, not just bludgeon it. It’s the only path to a bright American future.

— This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, December 21, 2010.

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