Liberals as independents?
This is a plea for civility and sanity among brave liberals and progressives. It's time for many of them to break the silence and oppose the tone changes and agendas in their party. They have good reasons to be concerned about the reputation of their side of politics.
The old vision of being known as a party of tolerance, civility and rational thinking has been hijacked by a vocal minority who use social coercion to bully fellow Democrats into their agendas.
Frankly, we need large groups of citizens from both sides of the political aisle to refuse blind loyalty to their party -- especially if it requires violations of civility, tactics of manipulation and attitudes of arrogance and intolerance toward those who differ.
On the liberal side, the growing tendency toward these things portrayed vividly on cable networks like MSNBC, and required of the faithful, ought to be enough to move large numbers to threaten to become independents.
As a liberal, does it disturb you to hear Chris Matthews from MSNBC irrationally gush over President Obama as if he is a messiah? Does something bother you about the cynical and condescending tones of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell? Do you find it disconcerting to hear the president discredit a news outlet because it's actually willing to disagree with him? I cringe when I hear Sean Hannity at Fox News mockingly refer to President Obama as the Anointed One. I cringed over the apocalyptic rhetoric that flowed from Glenn Beck.
Liberal Democrats once prided themselves on being a party of choice where one was free to think and be an individual. Now being a liberal requires uniformity to a growing list of litmus tests. For example, if you're a progressive but believe that abortion actually destroys a human life, you'll need to remain in the closet if you wish to be accepted in the party. You must oppose all things pro-life and support many other liberal causes with blind loyalty or risk rejection. If you admit to views that oppose the litmus tests, you'll likely hear someone ask, "You're not becoming one of those right-wing nuts are you?"
To be a member with full acceptance, you'll need to toe the party line on global climate change, gay marriage and gun control. You're not permitted to think logically or rationally about issues if it leads to differences from required party opinions. You must be anti-war while demanding the rights of women to serve in combat. You must oppose the evils of tobacco while supporting legalization of marijuana. You must boast allegiance to science while ignoring scientific evidence of abortion as the destruction of a human being.
I believe that there are many liberals who don't like the tone that has taken over their party. Yet they fear the consequences of opposing it. They also know that one of the primary sources behind these changes is the attachment of their party to a small but radical pro-homosexual contingency.
Although many liberals and progressives don't appreciate being associated with an agenda to change laws regarding marriage, they know that the slightest contradiction against this agenda will result in harsh criticism and social exclusion.
They know that the way this agenda is being shoved down the throats of Americans is becoming one of the foremost threats to civility. All reasonable people should find it alarming that a prominent pastor could be invited to give an inaugural prayer until a radical group discovered that he gave a sermon many years earlier explaining his personal views about homosexual behavior.
The Democratic Party is now dominated by litmus tests. The same criticism once used against conservatives is now true of Democrats.
It's time for thoughtful citizens on the liberal side who desire to be known for reason and civility to protest these changes. It will take courage because of the bullying tactics used to force acceptance of required thinking, but if more liberals refuse to acquiesce, perhaps there is time to save the party. Then again, the best way to send a message might be for large numbers of Democrats to become independents, as many former Republicans have done.
Steven W. Cornell is senior pastor at Millersville Bible Church. He is also a correspondent for Lancaster Newspapers Inc. Email him at s.cornell@millersvillebible church.org.