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Now I dont want to get off on a rant here but...You know, there used to be two parties- Democrat and Republican, and, separate from that, two schools of political thought. Anybody remember liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney? Today, a liberal Republican is one who thinks a condemned man getting death by injection should be laid out on a comfy mattress.

The word "liberal" has replaced "Communist" as the red flag neo-conservatives wave in your face to denote what's wrong in this country. People are even making me out a liberal, when I'm actually a pragmatist, which means I think everybody is an asshole but me.

With the threat of communism gone, the power elite no longer has to be on its best behavior. And right now, you have as good a chance of seeing tolerance from them as you do Newt Gingrich dirty dancing with Harvey Fierstein.

Remember Mario Cuomo's speech at the '84 Democratic Convention? It was a stunning bolt of lightning that, if only for a brief moment, galvanized the American spirit in the hearts and minds of its people. It was electrifying prose fueled by brains, guts, and compassion, and it made you proud to be an American. Now compare that to the only memorable Republican speech of the last decade- Pat Buchanan's derisive, petty, hate-filled diatribe at the '92 GOP convention. There may not be a member of the current crop of American conservatives who could match Cuomo's speech. I think they lack the compassion. Their consience doesn't seem to bother them enough.

So, as far as the nuts-and-bolts legislative details are concerned, liberalism is probably dead, and it doesn't look like a whole lot of us are going to be at that wake. But when it comes to the ongoing battle over reshaping this ethereal thing we call the American spirit, well, liberalism had better be very much alive and breathing fire, or we have truly lost our way as a nation.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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