We live in interesting times – frightening, fear-inducing, on an hour-by- hour basis, where 35% of the population and one political party has lost its mind. Yet the winds of change are also blowing – inspiring, engendering hope, as faith in the future is mobilizing the previously disaffected to stand up, demonstrate, engage with representatives, and vote. The results in last year’s off-off year elections are proof positive of that awakening and uprising.
It’s a very big secret, but most Americans are actually liberals. Yes, the “L Word.” We are still a single country, even if red and blue, because we live and thrive under a secular, liberal Constitution. As Democrats, and as Americans, we have to reclaim the word “liberal” and remind people that the moral values they hold dear are liberal values.
While religious values are very important to many, they are a personal choice, subject to interpretation and revision over the ages, and are not meant to be applied to the American public sphere. They can, and do, inform the individual conscience, the individual moral code. But, as recognized by the Founding Fathers, there is no single religious moral code that can be applied to this state or this country, only the American moral code.
And that means respect for the individual, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, citizenship, sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Americans simply do not believe in judging people based on their innate characteristics. They may still do so, out of habit, or ignorance, but it is not part of America’s moral code to do so.
I respect all individuals based on the content of their character, and not their innate characteristics. As my friend, Congressman Jamie Raskin (CD- 8), said to a conservative state Senator in 2006, “Madame, when you took the oath of office you put your hand on a Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; you did not put your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”
It is time to reclaim the words that made America – life, liberty, freedom, equality, opportunity, patriotism, family values. They are not Republican- defined terms, but words whose power has been conserved over the centuries. Nature conserves that which works through billions of years of evolution, and discards that which doesn’t. That has also been the glory of the American way these past 242 years.
It’s time we made America our own again, and act upon it. This election year is critical – it’s time to set Maryland on the path of hope, decency, integrity, dignity and equality, and have our state defend us against the predatory federal government. We can all make that happen by voting.