July 06, 2009
Towards a Viable American Left
The United States need a viable left wing movement. Historically, the American left has pushed for justice, equality before the law and economic opportunity for all. A viable American left must be inclusive and have the following characteristics: patriotism, embrace of the suburbs/exurbs, economic sustainability, and an acknowledgment of limits and respect for individual conscience. For the purposes of this essay I will equate the left with socialism and use the definition advanced by Ehrenreich and Fletcher: "the human capacity to solve our common problems collectively in an egalitarian, participatory and democratic fashion."
First, a viable left must be clearly and strongly patriotic. This is distinct from nationalism, i.e. "my country right or wrong." Rather, patriotism implies a love of place and country. Patriotism may sometimes require us to strongly criticize our nation. Patriotic criticism is motivated by a desire to improve the American situation. An important and deep failing of the academic left in the United States has been the ease with which conservatives were able to paint it as "anti-American."
Timothy Y. Fong is a plaintiffs' attorney based in Northern California. He graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Timothy spent his undergraduate career at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied the politics of North East Asia.
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