The New Democrat Online

Monday, October 17, 2011

C-SPAN: President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Address on Civil Rights: What it Means to be a Liberal Democrat



Source: C-SPAN- President John F. Kennedy in 1963-
Source: C-SPAN: President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Speech on Civil Rights

When I think of how Democrats should be and this is going to sound real arrogant, but I look at myself when I'm talking politically. A Liberal, because we believe in individual freedom, maximize freedom for the individual, as long as we are not hurting anyone else with our freedom. That means economic, social, political, religious, freedom of choice, as long as we are not hurting anyone else with our freedom. That we get back to what Old School Liberalism is. Not how liberalism is stereotyped today, which looks more like socialism, or progressivism. Liberalism,  which is about individual liberty, again as long as we are not hurting anyone else with our choices.

But thats me. Every Democrat can have their own version of what Democrats should be. But to me we are supposed to be the Liberal Democratic Party in America. Because we believe in liberal democracy. Not a Social Democratic Party, that some so-called Progressives today would like us to become. Or a Centrist Democratic Party, where those people could probably be Republicans as well. Like Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. But when I think of people who come the closest in representing what democrats and liberalism should be, I think of Jack Kennedy with Bill Clinton being not that far behind. As well as some Liberal Democrats today like Senator John Kerry, another JFK with very similar politics as Jack Kennedy. Senate Deputy Leader Dick Durbin and a few others. People who are Liberals not because they believe in collectivism. That government can solve all problems. But because they believe in individual liberty.

Jack Kennedy, in particular comes closest in representing what democrats are supposed to be. Not just because of his politics, but with his power to communicate his views. Just like Barry Goldwater represents exactly what Republicans are supposed to be because he was definitely a Classical Conservative. And communicated classical conservatism as well as it could be communicated and I would add Ron Reagan to that list as well. Because even though President Kennedy was late to the dance on civil rights and had he got their earlier, maybe he could've got the ball rolling on it earlier, but he got there. And it wasn't that he didn't believe in civil and equal rights, but that it was politics that was keeping him from it.

Losing the South in the 1964 Election, which is a weakness on President Kennedy's  part and I'm not excusing it. President Kennedy comes closest to representing what democrats should be. Because he was strong and smart on defense not soft that a lot of democrats after him got accused of being. And to a certain extent for good reason, again supported equal rights, individual freedom. Didn't want the Federal Government growing indefinitely, that there was a limit in what it can do to help the country. Fiscally responsible, these are all things that Liberals actually believe in. That government can help people who are down get themselves up, with what's called a safety net. Not a welfare state and they are different.

This is what it means to be a Liberal Democrat. Now I'm sure I'm farther to the left on a lot of social issues than President Kennedy. Like decriminalization of marijuana and prostitution and perhaps Gambling as well. But those issues, weren't considered mainstream back in JFK's time. But he comes the closest from every Democrat I've ever seen, as someone who doesn't believe in any form of big government. Doesn't believe in collectivism, but believes in individual freedom instead. Which is one of the reasons why he was such a strong anti-Communist. Not only in Congress, but as President as well and I wish we had more Democrats today like Jack Kennedy.