Not That Kind of Liberal
Back when I was in college, I wrote a summation of my political beliefs that pretty much was like this: “I am a liberal for those who drink at Starbucks, not those who protest it.” It was a reaction to the WTO protests at the time, where anti-trade rioters took to the streets of Seattle and left a memorable mark on a coffee shop that is ironically all but synonymous with liberalism.
Unfortunately, recent events cause me to formulate an update to this. “I am a liberal who is for coal miners’ healthcare, not a liberal who vote-shames those who need healthcare.”
Once upon a time, I was a dailyKos diaryist. That day has long since passed, but reading this post by Markos, which amounts to nothing more than a partisan tirade against the working poor, makes me ashamed of having ever associated with his website. Liberals are supposed to be for healthcare and pensions for everyone. Liberals are supposed to be for protecting those less fortunate. Liberals are supposed to be for labor unions. Liberals are supposed to be for doing the right thing, damn the consequences and damn who it benefits. Markos has abandoned liberalism in favor of political tribalism and I cannot stand by it. We liberals are better than that.
Jeff Stein at vox.com wrote a nice rejoinder to Markos. It’s worth your read.
Look, I get it. Coal is not great for the environment. This fight is not a high priority for the coastal elites or for the incoming Administration that opposes them. And rural whites as a whole, not just most coal miners, turned against a reasonable, well-qualified, if politically tone-deaf female candidate for President who won the popular vote but not in the right combination of state boundaries needed to win. It feels self-righteous to turn your back against people who turned against you. But you have to understand that many in those communities feel like the Democratic Party has turned its back on them. We shouldn’t be proving these voters right. We should be proving Mitch McConnell wrong for stonewalling on the 70-year promise to protect healthcare and pensions in the coalfields.
The image accompanying this article is very similar to one I took myself, just clearer. It’s taken from the Kentucky-Virginia border of a strip mine that laid waste to a mountaintop.