Monday, March 07, 2005

The Principles Project: A Declaration of Progressive Principles

When people ask why a progressive activist would want to bring a lifelong republican, four-star General into the big-tent of the Democratic Party, I tell them: "General Zinni embodies many of the principles of a progressive national security strategy."

But what exactly are the principles upon which progressives base their national security agenda? Well, a large group of progressives have just collaborated in something called The Principles Project, which I whole heartedly support.

A little less than a third of the document deals with national security. Here's what it says:
America’s security requires an effective military and a commitment to enduring alliances, but we must remember that America’s true power is found in its wisdom as well as its strength.

Our security and prosperity rely on the security and prosperity of people throughout the world. By helping others, we will help ourselves.

America must join with other nations to build global institutions that protect the vulnerable, promote democratic self-government, and improve the health and welfare of all people throughout the world.

America must never suspend its belief in democracy and human rights in the pursuit of its global objectives. Noble ends require nothing short of noble means.
While I still have yet to find any quotes on why General Zinni identifies so strongly with the Republican Party, it is clear to me that his many views on security coincide more closely with these principles than with the faith-based ideologies of the right.

And then we have these principles, dealing with honesty in government:

Government must be transparent, accessible and open to all citizens who wish to oversee its workings and share in its benefits.

America must work to enhance the democratic process by ensuring an educated citizenry, equal opportunity for influence, honest public debate, competitive elections and robust civic participation.

A healthy democracy requires tireless vigilance against corruption and abuses of power, and a government that is accountable to its people.

Nothing seems further from these principles than the current Republican regime, who continually lie and exaggerate to push their agenda, and who openly scorn international cooperation and the agencies that enable it. I would also say that General Zinni is one of the most powerful advocates for many of these principles, especially in regards to how we deal with the world and the transparency of government decisions.

The question then is three fold:
Why would such an strong, open-minded, working class, intellectual side with the party of corruption, back room dealing, and deceit?
Why do progressives have such a hard time allying themselves with those who forcefully advocate for the principles they stand for? (Is it another issue like abortion? Some other social issue?)
What can we do to bring strong national-security figures like Zinni into our big-tent?