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Liberals vs. "Republican Lite"

Blake Zeff writes on
"The truth is that de Blasio is masterfully running almost precisely the same campaign, with the same message, that nearly every winner of a high-profile New York City-wide Democratic primary runs... The most liberal of the credible candidates tends to win Democratic primaries in New York. 
"The most recent high-profile competitive Democratic primary in New York was Eric Schneiderman’s victorious campaign to be Attorney General... Like de Blasio, he trailed for much of the summer when few voters were paying attention, and ran as an unabashed liberal ('Democrat Tries to Stand Out as Liberal in Primary,' the New York Times reported), emphasizing economic justice and racial equality. 
"Seen in the context of New York political history, the success of his liberal message is neither a huge surprise, nor is it necessarily a watershed moment for progressivism in America."
--Blake Zeff
I think that's an accurate description of the Democratic Party in general, and Democrats should be progressives nationwide, rather than think they have to become Republican lite to win elections.
Due to the attacks of Bush Sr. in 1988, for example, Michael Dukakis distanced himself from the liberal label. 
Instead, Dukakis became wishy-washy. When he stated his positions on the campaign trail, he would say things like, "Is that a liberal position, or a conservative position?" And in one of his campaign ads, he talked about his family, especially his daughters, and concluded, "That's not a liberal concern or a conservative concern, that's a father's concern."
Only toward the end of the campaign, as Election Day was approaching, did Dukakis proclaim himself a liberal in the tradition of Harry Truman...
...forcing Bush Sr. to praise the liberalism (progressivism) of Harry Truman, while blasting the liberalism of Michael Dukakis! 
On the other hand, early in 1992, I commented to my friend Chris about the Democratic primaries and the candidates, "Have you heard Paul Tsongas speak?" noting that Tsongas, who called himself a "pro-business liberal," wasn't photogenic, nor had a television personality, which is absolutely necessary in this day and age. "We (Democrats) are in trouble if he gets the nomination."
Chris was pursuing his PhD in Electrical Engineering at UC Berkeley at the time. The San Francisco Bay Area, and Berkeley in particular, like Massachusetts, Ann Arbor, Michigan,  or Santa Monica, CA, are pockets of liberalism. 
I once asked Chris what the difference was between the liberalism of Massachusetts compared to the liberalism of Berkeley.
All Chris could say was, "Well, Massachusetts is like a 'rich liberal,' whereas Berkeley is like a 'poor liberal'..."
(A few years later, in 1995, when I traveled with a group of activists protesting the Republicans' Contract On America, when we stopped at a restaurant in Nevada, one of the activists similarly joked about being on a "poor socialist budget"!)
Chris and I went over to dine at Lavalle's Pizza in Berkeley, CA, which was surrounded by homeless persons, and Chris said, mildly sarcastic, "Well, Vasu... your liberal dream come true!"
"I know," I replied. "I feel like I'm in a Third World country."
Bill Clinton, a young Rhodes Scholar (he was only 46 at the time), photogenic, and articulate, surprised everyone by coming out of nowhere, winning the Democratic primaries and defeating Bush Sr. (an incumbent) in the general election.
But to win, Clinton had to position himself as a centrist, as a Republican lite candidate, distancing himself not only from Jesse Jackson and Sistah Souljah, but from white liberals like Jerry Brown as well.
When Clinton was elected in November of that year, and the Democrats swept Congress, I spoke to Chris about the exciting possibilities of a Clinton administration.
"Clinton's a moderate and a Southerner," said Chris. "It's not like we elected Ted Kennedy or Jesse Jackson."
Chris, a political liberal, but involved with Christian youth groups in high school, was uncomfortable with abortion. Chris said he and his pro-choice sister Julie had gotten into debates over the issue.
Representative Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) referred to Bill Clinton as "the abortion president." But political observers say the pro-life movement actually gained strength during the Clinton years. 
My friend Al Fecko (a Catholic vegetarian living in Michigan) and I founded Allies Of Peace as an online pro-life and pro-animal-rights email discussion group in 1996.
On the Allies Of Peace email list, at the end of the '90s, pro-life feminist Mary Krane Derr (1963 - 2012) credited me with having caused her to become a vegetarian, as did my friend Greg, whom I've known since high school.
Pro-life atheist Jen Roth founded LeftOut, a haven for progressive pro-lifers as well. Al warned me, though, that if I were to join the LeftOut email list, I'd receive about thirty to forty emails per day, and hardly any of them would have anything to do with animal rights! 
This indicates that many mainstream liberals are uncomfortable with abortion.
At the end of 2007, I was interviewed by Celebrate Life, a publication of the American Life League, the nation's largest grassroots Catholic anti-abortion group. My responses to the interview questions were apparently too lengthy to be published in the magazine, so I distributed copies of them on my own.
In my responses to the interview questions, I was distinguishing abortion from victimless crimes, like drugs, prostitution, same-sex relations, etc. 
I called for greater social support for pregnant women and children, saying it's odd that the Democratic Party -- the party of childcare and human rights! -- would ignore the possible rights of the unborn. 
I drew a connection between animal rights and prenatal rights, objecting to a double-standard among pro-lifers, saying "Your religion says it's wrong to kill animals, mine doesn't," -- when someone from a differing denomination could just as easily say, "Your religion says it's wrong to kill the unborn, mine doesn't." 
I said I disagreed with the conservative strategy of packing the courts with conservative justices in the hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade, especially if it could result in a loss of privacy and civil liberties (e.g., Griswold v. Connecticut and the subsequent Supreme Court decisions on individual and marital privacy which preceded Roe). 
I said the pro-life movement desperately needs religious diversity: this country wasn't founded by Christians, and pro-lifers should welcome people of all faiths, and those of no faith.  
Jen Roth, a pro-life atheist, emailed me shortly thereafter, saying she loved the way my responses to the interview questions were " unabashedly liberal!"
I'd already sent Jen Roth animal rights literature.
Jen Roth went on to form Nonviolent Choice with pro-life feminist Mary Krane Derr (1963 - 2012), favoring not just adoption over abortion (like Bush Sr. in one of his 1988 debates with Michael Dukakis), but contraception and sex education as well.
As I said in my 2006 book, The Liberal Case Against Abortion, the abortion crisis is analogous to the Vietnam War. By the end of the 1960s, both the right and the left came to agree the war was wrong. They merely advocated different strategies for ending it.
Abortion and war are the collective karma for killing animals. The reincarnationist strategy for ending the abortion crisis is that we cease to kill animals.
Democrats For Life of America, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, South Building, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20004 (202) - 220 - 3066

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