Liberal has become a four-letter word in American culture, even to the point that many liberals now shun the word. Why has this time-honored tradition of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and a host of other great Americans who have sought to help all rise to a better life in America become anathema? The culpable force is a well-oiled, extremely well-funded Right-Wing propaganda machine that distorts the truth every chance it can get to defame a great tradition and great people. Liberals are painted by Right-Wing commentators, radio personalities, and a stream of authors and political leaders as irresponsible spend thrifts who throw money at social causes in a blind attempt to help the less fortunate. We’re accused of a senseless compassion for the less-well-off that severely weakens our country, putting a drain on our economy and our personal wealth through unnecessary taxes. Moreover, liberals are painted as morally bankrupt. We’re painted, and wrongly so, as an almost valueless class that doesn’t know right from wrong. Liberals are accused of being against religion, because we insist on the separation of Church and State as our founders stipulated in the Constitution. We’re even against capitalism and free enterprise. We’re made out to be a dangerous band of socialists or communities and have even been likened to terrorists! Ironically, our efforts to protect America’s working class citizens, consumers, patients, women, children, gays, and the environment – efforts moderate Conservatives often support, by the way — are viewed as a subversive force that could bring the United States of America to its knees. We’d be better off as a nation if those stupid, damned liberals would just sit down and shut up! I have felt much of the wrath of the Social Fundamentalists who make up the powerful Right-Wing of the Republican Party and who are intent on taking over the Party, because many of these criticisms have been directed toward me. I’ve been labeled “unpatriotic,” “anti-free enterprise,” and “anti-Christian” and more by the Social Fundamentalists in the State of Texas when one of my leading books, a textbook of environmental science was being considered for use in the high schools of the state by the Texas State Board of Education in November, 2001. My critics viewed this book, which outlines a progressive and sustainable set of solutions to environmental problems that are good for people, the economy, and the Earth, as a danger to young minds. I was labeled, “un-American,” for example, because I noted that the United States has five percent of the world’s people, yet produces 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the combustion of fossil fuel. To the Social Fundamentalists, facts such as this have become a dangerous thing. And those who quote such facts, no matter how true, are clearly a subversive force. There’s no room for honesty anymore if it doesn’t support their narrow and tainted view of reality. I was labeled “anti-Christian “because I discussed scholarly work that links American values to Biblical teachings…the old Genesis inducement to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over all living things.” Incidentally, Interior Secretary James Watt, himself a religious man, used to dash around the country quoting Genesis to justify his wildly anti-environmental pro-development policies. The Republicans, on the other hand, are painted — by their own Propagandists — as America’s saviors. They’re going to save us from the excesses and the moral turpitude of the America’s dangerous liberals. How? Out of Touch with Reality For one, the Republicans are going to provide tax relief for us, which means primarily the wealthy. In the first round of tax relief by the Bush Administration, the upper one percent received a $45,000 annual tax benefit. The middle 20 percent, received a paltry $265, while the lowest 60 percent got a whopping $95 annual break, according to Joe Conason, author of Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How it Distorts the Truth. Some relief. But there’s a greater issue here, the vehement attack of Right Wingers on taxes. Although none of us likes to be taxed, we mustn’t forget that “taxes have helped to build a strong and prosperous country — even though no U.S. corporation today could have achieved its economic prowess without the highways, bridges, airports, seaports, colleges and universities, and military that taxes we and our predecessors have paid since the nation’s founding,” according to George Lakoff author of the best seller, Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. Republican propaganda has conveniently forgotten that taxes have helped to make this country great and many people extremely wealthy! Taxes have helped to make many an American wealthy. How could Bill Gates – or Donald Trump or Michael Eisner or any wealthy person, for that matter — have made his fortune without the infrastructure paid for by taxes? The Right-Wing attack on taxation is a convenient lapse in memory, a dangerous denial of the importance of taxes to the very foundation of our society. They’ve forgotten that taxes are the dues we pay to live in this great society. While signing a yearly check for country club dues to pay for upkeep on the pool, golf course, and dining room, wealthy Republicans who villainize taxation have, as Lakoff also points out in his book, seem to naively miss an important point: taxes are the price we pay for snow removal, highway repair, airports, libraries, schools, police protection, fire protection, waste removal, medical research, research on energy, and much more. Off Base Right-Wing extremist propaganda is dangerously wrong about liberals and wrong about many of the important policies Democrats support. To say that Republicans have painted a false image of America’s Democratic Party would be an understatement. To say that they have intentionally embarked on character assassination to advance their cause would be more correct. Although there are liberals who go too far, by and large America’s progressive band of American citizens, nearly half our nation’s population, doesn’t fit the negative image that’s conveyed incessantly by pernicious Republican commentators in America’s supposedly liberal media. Sure, we offer a different vision of the future, but we care deeply about America. Take the war in Iraq as an example. Many Democrats, myself included, looked skeptically on our nearly unilateral invasion of Iraq with scant evidence of probable causation. We despised Sadam and his army of thugs, but we felt an invasion was made on false pretenses. Even the CIA had reported to Congress months before the invasion that Iraq was no threat to the United States. It had never used weapons of mass destruction on anyone who could retaliate. Bottom line, we feel as if President Bush betrayed our trust, asking us to send our sons and daughters to fight and be killed in a war, without adequate provocation. Progressives dared to speak out against the war and to offer honorable alternatives that, in our view, made imminently more sense. They were ideas that fit with the realities of our times – that we are a superpower, but still part of a global community irrevocably linked to by politics and trade. Our suggestions of alternative proposals doesn’t mean that we’re any less American than the hawks who were all too eager to invade this country under the guise of an unsubstantiated connection with Al Queda and an equally unfounded claim that the Iraquis possessed weapons of mass destruction – both assertions that never materialized. We offer a different view of achieving a better America – an America that works cooperatively with its neighbors to bring peace to the world through mutual responsibility. Our proposals hinged on creating an America that doesn’t insult its allies and trading partners, but honors differences. It is about an America that seeks Democracy and all that it embodies, including free speech, worldwide without subverting it at home. Liberals, to be sure, have not always articulated their values and need to. We need to stand up strong and proud and say that we are for a stronger America, broader prosperity, and a better future. We are for more effective government – meaning more efficient government – that spends our tax dollars responsibly. We are for a nation built on a value of mutual responsibility. We help one another out in times of need. We encourage and honor freedom and independence, but we’re not afraid to lend a helping hand to those who need it. Far from being a subversive force in our society, we are purveyors of America’s finest traditions and values.