But believe it or not, I have been thinking about this for longer than the recent heated debate about Syria. I have been thinking about it, and realizing to my shock, horror and sadness that liberals without a conscience do exist, and they occupy our airwaves, "liberal" websites, and pollute the minds of well meaning progressives. I have been coming to this realization for the last four years.
I'm talking about people who stand in the way of progress, loud and proud, because they argue the progress isn't enough, or refuse to recognize it as progress at all.
I'm talking about the Left's own "kill the bill" chorus that was poised to end the best chance of health care reform in 50 years because a meaningless, symbolic 'public option' didn't make it into the final bill. If you claim to be of the Left but you see it fit to deny 32 million additional Americans health insurance, to deny children (and adults) the chance to be covered without having to worry about pre-existing condition, to oppose mental health parity, to reject seniors (and eventually most others) being helped with their copays and their prescription coverage, you are a liberal without a conscience. If you believe that your precious item on the checklist is worth the suffering of millions of children, adults and the elderly for the next 50 years, you are a liberal without a conscience.
I am talking about supposed liberals who sought to stop Wall Street Reform because it "didn't break up the banks." Never mind that it created the nation's first independent federal agency dedicated to consumer protection. Never mind that it regulated derivatives for the first time ever. Never mind that it created better liquidity requirements for consumer banks and separated their consumer activities and Wall Street gambling. Never mind that it gave regulators the authority to wind down financial institutions threatening our economy. And never mind that it banned liar loans and created a strict framework to give borrowers protection from predatory lending practices. If you think that seeing perp-walks and fear on Wall Street is more important than protecting consumers, you are a liberal without a conscience.
You are a liberal without a conscience if you are too daft to admit that in the toughest of political climates, we have a president who implemented the largest economic stimulus in American history, gave the middle class every assistance he could - from a payroll tax cut to improving student aid to assistance programs for people in hard times - and took the hits for it.
You are a liberal without a conscience if you derided and berated the president for not repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell temporarily through an executive order (funny how "liberals" weary of signing statements and expansive executive power suddenly became its loudest proponents when it favored a temporary outcome good only for chest-thumping), but didn't thank him profusely when he repealed it permanently by law. You are a liberal without a conscience if you stunningly condemned a black man and asked him to 'evolve already', but refused to give him any credit for his support of marriage equality and his tactics to get DOMA thrown out in court.
You are a liberal without a conscience if you beat your chest about how pro-labor you are and write "diaries" about it but conveniently forget the contributions of the most worker friendly president since FDR, or worse yet, degrade him for not being worker friendly enough. If you go around the country on poverty pimping tours to sell your book and take potshots at the one person in government who has relentlessly advocated for and delivered for the middle class, the poor and working people, then your conscience is more than a little rusty.
If you find it morally repugnant that the government conducts surveillance operations within the law and the Constitution as a tool to fight threats in a dangerous world but find yourself worshiping at the alter of racists, fascists, and traitors who take shelter in our adversaries, your conscience is failing. If you trumpet yourself as the champion of open government, freedom and free press but feel an irresistible compulsion to sing the praise of a ruthless ruler who poisons dissidents, suppresses free press and jails gays, you may need to retrieve your conscience from the pit of a very dark hole inside of your soul.
But most of all, you are a liberal without a conscience if your focus is on being such a perfection troll that you cannot see, or close your eyes to, the most effective liberal to have entered the White House in nearly a century. If compromise is such a dirty word to you that it prevents you from seeing why it is necessary and what a given compromise does to help the ordinary person, you are an elitist liberal who needs to confront the demons of your own conscience (or lack thereof).
At the core of liberalism is community - the idea that we look out for our neighbors, or fellow Americans and ultimately, our fellow humans - and if your ideology is getting in the way of seeing the greater good, the common good, then it's a problem with your conscience.
Think about it.