Democrats and other progressives have the upper moral hand on most issues. We oppose oppression, we support rule of law and human rights, we seek restraint on the use of military force, we value truthfulness in civic life. We have traditionally opposed the death penalty, supported the expansion of rights and liberties to all, and seek an end to perils of poverty. We are called “bleeding hearts” because of our love and concern for all. We’re champions of children – children’s rights, children’s schooling, children’s health care. We generally find war repulsive, and seek to restrict war only to when it is the only resort. Pain, death, killing, injustice are forces we seek to overcome. We are driven by our values. Progressive values are the values of ordinary Americans: trust, hard work, care for neighbors, equal opportunity, fairness and compassion.
Our political opposites have a less compelling moral agenda. Expediency before principle is an accepted logic of the right wing – the neoconservatives and their Republican allies. Care and compassion for the poor is often mocked. Goals are shrouded in rhetorical lies. Oppression and war are called freedom and peace. Income transfers from the poor to the rich are called fiscal responsibility. Fear and terrorism are exploited for political and economic gains. Torture is committed in the name of spreading democracy. Life is ended in the name of ideology. And all of these immoral and horrific acts are done in the name of liberty, freedom, democracy, justice and peace. Liberalism, the foundation of our republic and society, is openly scorned while democratic institutions of government are head-on attacked. Our political opponents exploit the moral good of the American people to carry out great acts of evil.

Wars of aggression are immoral. Torture is immoral. Lying is wrong, and is deeply immoral when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake. Ordering the killing of hundreds of thousands of people for political and economic gain is immoral. Invoking God for evil is immoral. These are just some of the reasons why President Bush, Dr. Rice, Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney are deeply immoral persons – totally out of step with mainstream or traditional American values. As Bush leads a kind, loving and moral country into moral abyss there is no reason why the Democrats cede the moral highground.

The false morality of President Bush and his anti-republican cabal is deeply cynical and dangerous. For any person who is not a direct supporter of the neoconservative agenda to describe this agenda as anything other than radical, dangerous and immorall is totally irresponsible. To call an evil regime opposed to democracy, freedom, liberty, justice and human dignity something decent and moral makes the lines between good and evil meaningless. And to not look evil in the eye directly, calling it was it is and is not, is cowardly. Times like these call for strong defenders of American values and ideals. Cowards should be wrested from the lines of defense that protect our republic from domestic forces in its opposition. There is no room for cowards, as now is the time that nations call upon patriots to stand for what is right.

The forces that support President Bush and his administration are aligned in direct opposition to everything that the American republic has stood for since its inception. America has been a nation built on progress, on expanding of liberty, freedom and rights for the citizens from and by whom the power of the government is established. Each step forward was hard fought, but the institutions of power have ceded through the rule of law and vision of progress to end slavery, expand the vote, protect minority rights, develop a welfare state, start towards the end of poverty, provide opportunity for all through education and improve the happiness of all its citizens. Never before has a President stood in such direct opposition to this progress. Never before as the traditional liberalism that is America been so threatened from within. And never before has it mattered for American patriots to stand up for our republic.

Why the Democrats fail to assert the moral issues at stake with the Bush administration’s assault on the values that bind Americans at the foundation is beyond understanding. It is a staggering failure on the part of Democrats to not attack President Bush on moral grounds. Given that President Bush is responsible for crimes against the peace, wars of aggression, lies to the Congress, the UN and the American people, torture, and now attempts to dismantle the progressive era’s greatest accomplishments towards the end of poverty, it is a colossal failure on the part of all progressives that we do not hold the moral highground. We should be on the moral offensive, not the defensive. President Bush’s actions are not in the areas of moral relativism – as they are in total and direct opposition to our values as a republic.

The best example (or worst) of how we, progressives, have failed to take the moral high ground is how we have:

    * Emphasized American deaths over Iraqi deaths
    * Hid the true costs of the war by self-censoring the most painful photos of the war from our friends and other Americans
    * Emphasized the logistical failures of the war over the moral failures of the war
    * Generally refused to assert the right of moral refusal from participation in immoral war
    * Failed to organize and participate in massive demonstrations and protests calling for an end to the American occupation of Iraq through multi-lateral measures

It is difficult to assert that a war is immoral as Americans actively fight for the war. The soldiers who are asked by their government to fight such a war have a right to freedom from such a request. The choice of participation is a complex. Soldiers are victims in war – who are being asked by the government to fight for an immoral, unjust and illegal war of aggression. We must place the moral blame on the politicians in power, as these are people most responsible for this war. By asserting that the politicians responsible for the war are immoral and unjust war criminals, we shift the discussion from how to best carry out war to how to best carry out American values and principles.

Finally, when we fail to assert our moral case for what this war is wrong, we cede the moral discussion to President Bush and other neoconservative Republicans. Since they know that moral values are what appeal to the American people, they hide their deeply immoral and troubling agenda in a mask of morality. As progressives argue that it can’t be done, the neoconservatives argue that it must be done. And they alone speak of the moral reasons behind the war. We fail to counter the lies and the evilness behind these lies – as we limit our talk to logistical nonsense. If the neoconservatives alone speak of morality, then the Americans will have little reason to doubt claims that the invasion of Iraq on false pretenses, in violation of US and international law are moral and just. The deaths of over 101,500 Americans and Iraqis will seem like moral sacrifices, the torture as for a good cause and the death of American democracy as God’s calling. We must, therefore, wake up to the fact that we are the one’s who are just, moral and the patriots on whom the defense of the republic itself rests.

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