This column appeared two years ago. With the election fast approaching and Republicans stoking fears of the “radical left,” I’ve updated it.
Republicans cast liberals as radical, with anti-law enforcement, anti-military and anti-capitalist views. It’s a smokescreen that belies liberal accomplishments conservatives want you to forget on Nov. 3:
♦ Do you or your parents collect Social Security? Thank liberals.
♦ If you or a loved one requires expensive health care, has Medicare or Medicaid saved your family from bankruptcy? Thank liberals.
♦ Do you have a preexisting condition but are still covered for medical treatment? Thank liberals.
♦ Do you work a 40-hour week? Thank liberals.
♦ If you’ve been out of work, did you collect unemployment insurance? Thank liberals.
♦ Are the foods you eat, the medicines you take and the water you drink safe? Thank liberals.
♦ If you’re a woman, are your reproductive rights protected? Thank liberals.
♦ Are you a member of a labor union that ensures a fair wage, benefits and safe working conditions? Thank liberals.
♦ Do your kids attend public schools from kindergarten through the 12th grade? Thank liberals.
♦ If you’re a person of color, are you free to use public accommodations? Thank liberals.
I could list many more “radical left” achievements, but remember this: Republicans attacked all of them as “socialism” or “communism.”
Back in the mid-1960s, a washed-up B movie actor named Ronald Reagan recorded a speech condemning Medicare as lost freedom. Freedom to be old, sick and die in poverty? That kind of freedom?
At its core, conservatism is founded on deceiving average Americans into opposing the very policies that would improve their lives.
This was on display with the Affordable Care Act. Fully implemented, the ACA would unquestionably lower the cost and improve the quality of health care for millions of working families. Backed by special interest dark money, however, Republicans continue to sabotage it, today jamming through a Supreme Court nominee who will undoubtedly help repeal all of the protections the ACA affords.
Conservatives say liberals want to steal our democracy, when it is they who see democracy as their enemy. Everywhere Republicans rule, including Georgia, they actively suppress voting, the most fundamental democratic freedom we have.
Republicans know they can’t win elections unless they purge voting rolls, gerrymander districts and make it as difficult as possible for minorities and young people to vote. They justify their deceit by telling us they want to protect elections from voting fraud, which is virtually non-existent, according to a study done by no less than the Trump administration.
Among anti-liberal canards is the one about guns. There are more than 300 million guns in the hands of Americans, but the right would have you believe liberals want every last one of them confiscated.
What would that even look like? Realistically, how would you go about rounding up all those guns?
It’s a blatantly dishonest argument and another example of how conservatives conjure up bogus conspiracies to serve their purposes. They exploit a relatively small audience of overheated gun owners willing to believe a falsehood when all liberals want — as do many gun owners — are sensible gun safety laws.
Conservatives declare the war on poverty is lost. This is a pernicious lie that suggests we stop helping disadvantaged Americans. When Democratic President Lyndon Johnson launched his Great Society in 1964, he targeted poverty because he’d seen its horrific effects, especially on children, as a schoolteacher in Depression-era Texas.
Poverty today looks nothing like it did then or even in the mid-1960s. The poor have access to financial support, food, housing, health care, job training and other benefits that make up America’s social safety net. How many millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty thanks to these programs?
Do some abuse them? Of course. But for real abuse, take a look at how spectacularly profitable corporations force their workers to rely on government benefits like food stamps by keeping wages low.
Who wins if there’s no social safety net? The 1% and Wall Street swells, and that’s all Republicans care about. In 2018, they cut their taxes and are now looking for ways to pay for those cuts at the expense of middle class and low-income Americans.
This leads to another characterization conservatives love to apply to liberals. We’re “bleeding hearts” because we care about the welfare of our fellow citizens. I plead guilty.
We live in the most prosperous nation in human history. We easily have the resources to care for every last American who needs help, even in this time of COVID. Conservatives counter that charities can care for the poor. Read Charles Dickens if you want to know how that worked out in 19th-century England.
As President Harry Truman observed in 1952, socialism is the “scare word” Republicans always throw at anything that serves the greater good because fear is all they ever had to offer.