Defining the values that underlie and unite progressives became an urgent question in the early 21st Century. Progressives came to recognize that, to a great degree, our political choices emerge from our sense of cultural identity and our emotional responses to stories and images, not from ‘rational’ cost-benefit analyses.
The Canadian public has been influenced by right-wing and corporate media, much of it emanating from the United States, to have a negative view of trial lawyers and to perceive a need for "tort reform". Canadian trial lawyers and liberals would do well to learn from the U.S.
According to Robert McNamara in the "Fog of War," the first lesson of life is, "empathize with your enemy." In order to understand the conservative movement's ascendancy in American politics, progressives should take McNamara's advice and try to view the world through the business lens of conservatives.
In the wake of 9/11, ultraconservatives have used the concept of a War on Terrorism (WOT) – a “war” with no foreseeable end and hidden enemies lurking everywhere – to tighten control over the American public, undermine civil liberties, advance their own foreign policy agenda, distract attention from their own controversial domestic agenda, and intimidate the opposition.
We can expect terrorism to remain a dominant media story throughout 2004, and terrorism-related media-worthy events to be used in service of the political goals of the far right.
In the face of the media-dramatized WOT, it has been hard for dissenting voices to be heard. Opposition to conservative policies and actions, and to Republican candidates, is met by accusations that the opponents are unpatriotic or seek to put Americans at risk.
In his novel Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov describes an imaginary country where, under the guidance of a wise and benevolent king, "Taxation had become a thing of beauty. The poor were getting a little richer, and the rich a little poorer...."