Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Reflecting on Liberalism again 

Too much on our own internals – this campaign has gone on a week too long. So in the growing pause between activity and waiting for the result a few thoughts what others at other times have made of Liberal ideas and approaches.

Here are some snippets from the speech made by John F. Kennedy a couple of days after getting the Democratic Party nomination for US President in 1960, accepting the additional endorsement of the New York Liberal Party. Some of those present had campaigned strongly against JFK and so this is also an example of building up political alliances after a nominating struggle.

Kennedy had been attacked for being a ‘Liberal’ and he rejoiced in accepting the title

..”if by a ‘Liberal,’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes that we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say that I'm a "Liberal."

“ I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, and the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, this faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith, for liberalism is not so much a party creed or a set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of Justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.”

“Our responsibility is not discharged by an announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons, that liberalism is our best and our only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them.”

We have come some way in inclusive language since then, but we know what he meant.

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