The Fermentation Tank
Exploratory Articles about Liberal Values
The goal of this thinktank is to lift our values into consciousness. We all understand liberalism in our hearts. We need to understand it in our minds. Each article in this section should help take some deeply-felt liberal value, and explain it using straightforward logic that anybody can understand. The goal is to give people greater confidence in their own liberalism, having heard a cogent explanation for each of the things they intuitively know to be true.
The thinktank takes the form of a list of articles. Feel free to add articles at will. Please do not alter another person's article, except to fix spelling errors and other trivial bugs. Instead, if you disagree with somebody else's article, write a response article. Post a link to the response article at the top of the original article, so that each article contains a list of responses near the top.<p>
Please do not write about current events except insofar as those events teach us a lesson about deep-seated liberal value systems. Steer clear of wonky policy discussions. The point is to inspire deeper understanding of our values, not to get hung up on minutiae and transient events.<p>
New articles should be added at the top of the list, so that the most recent articles are always first. This will make it easy to read this thinktank as if it were a blog. Feel free to add links to articles on external sources, but only if they're really interesting.<p>
Note: if any of the external links break, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democrats at the Crossroads by Publius (external)
- Did it seem strange to anyone else that the party who strongly opposed the war in Iraq just had a week-long salute to the military and military service? Did it seem strange that a party whose national leaders rarely invoke religion stressed faith over and over again? Did it seem strange that a party who runs from "values" debates asserted their own "values" again and again? Something big happened this week - something potentially very big.
The Hippocratic Oath - it is our Nature by Josh Yelon
- In all the debate over universal health, we miss one obvious point: It is simply not in our character, as Americans, to turn away the sick. We simply do not have the callousness it would take to abandon the needy. Any sensible discussion of health care needs to start from this basic premise.
A Democrat knows that the Leaf Turns by Garrison Keillor (external)
- "The fear of catastrophe could chill the soul but the social compact assures you ... if you find yourself hopelessly lost, incapable, drowning in despair, running through the rye toward the cliff, then the rest of us will catch you and tend to you." Username: kosuser Password: kosuser
A Thank-You Note for my Prosperity by Josh Yelon
- Conservatives often say, "I earned my money all by myself. My fellow Americans had nothing to do with it. I don't owe anything to anybody." This article explains the fallacy in that argument - that in reality, a prosperous man is prosperous because he received countless intangible gifts from his fellow Americans.
How Can the Democrats Win? by Rick Perlstein (external)
- When Greenberg asks voters to describe the Democratic Party... he gets a description of the party of nothing at all. What do Americans say they want? According to the pollsters, exactly what the Democratic Party was once famous for giving them: economic populism. (Note: this is an article in the Boston Review. Click on the link labeled "Complete Contents" to see several smart responses to this article.)
Reframing Video and Reframing Article by George Lakoff (external)
- Both forms contain essentially the same information: a clear, useful explanation of how liberals and conservatives think. The video is very enjoyable, he's an upbeat, pleasant speaker. The article is in the American Prospect. The video is from the June 4 Take Back America Conference.
Coming soon: What is the Institution of Marriage, Really? by Josh Yelon
- Many liberals believe that the conservative argument that "gay marriage hurts the institution of marriage" is sheer nonsense, because there is no "institution" anywhere that can be harmed. These liberals are wrong. Unless we understand the conservative argument fully, and that there is an institution which can be harmed, we will never be able to respond properly.
Coming soon: Safety Net vs Private Insurance by Josh Yelon
- This article explains why private insurance can never be a substitute for a real government-backed social safety net.