A false stereotype of the left’s motives
In his Oct. 10 op-ed, “America can rise above its grievances,” Michael Gerson repeated a cliche that often plagues The Post’s op-ed page. This is the false stereotype of the “tenured class” on the left as coupling honest attention to injustice in the American experience with a call for “the cleansing purity of social revolution.”
In fact, many of us take our cues from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights speech. Roosevelt, a progressive who sought to secure American capitalist democracy, not to repudiate it, argued that basic universal economic securities of employment, decent pay and housing, health care, nondiscrimination and education are necessary to the claims of liberty, equal dignity and pursuit of happiness articulated in the Declaration of Independence.
These are priorities, not bromides — but sincere, accountable, urgent priorities, on which the honor and decency of our democracy depend. In Roosevelt’s words: “America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.”
Notwithstanding our current president, there is important room — on issues including health care, immigration, mass incarceration and more — for cooperative, sober, factually accountable congressional action between Republicans and Democrats toward these ends. Mr. Gerson’s invocations of President Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama evinced this spirit of accountable bipartisan engagement; others he unjustly caricatures share this spirit, too.
Peter Lancelot Mallios, Ellicott City