It can be easy to forget that most of the real progress in America (and indeed the world) has been fought for by people who would, by today's definition, would call themselves liberals. Sometime a decade or more ago, "liberal" became a dirty word, and liberals allowed it to happen. It's time to reclaim the word, and remind people that the progenitors of progress have always been progressives.
"We liberals and progressives and leftists have our own noble principles, our own beautiful abstract words. We should take our stand on them. Fairness is a liberal value. Equality is a liberal value. Education is a liberal value. Honesty in government, public service for modest remuneration, safeguarding public resources and the land--these are all values we share. Liberty is a liberal value, trusting people to make their own decisions, letting people speak their minds even if their views are unpopular. So is social solidarity, the belief that we should share the nation's enormous wealth so that everyone can live decently. The truth is, most of the good things about this country have been fought for by liberals (indeed, by leftists and, dare one say it, Communists)--women's rights, civil liberties, the end of legal segregation, freedom of religion, the social safety net, unions, workers' rights, consumer protection, international cooperation, resistance to corporate domination--and resisted by conservatives. If conservatives had carried the day, blacks would still be in the back of the bus, women would be barefoot and pregnant, medical care would be on a cash-only basis, there'd be mouse feet in your breakfast cereal and workers would still be sleeping next to their machines."