Progress

The liberals are now called progressives. This change has been in response to the right labeling liberalism as bad.

Today you asked me to read E.J. Dionne in the Wash Post, you said, “I thought he was good today, making a strong case for Obama’s slow and steady progress in overcoming the far right.” So I did read it and JP, Yup, Dionne is on.

But let’s break this down before I get to agreeing with your conclusion. The column is largely about the right’s proclivity towards putting the left in a box and labeling them.

Obama is a foreigner. Democrats want America to be communist, Soviets or socialists. Pigeonholing supposed wrongs of the other guys makes the describers seem more blameless and pure. Now Obama and Reid are sending us all to Europe. I hear it often. The right likes to compare Obama policies to Europe’s nearly constantly. Their strategy is to have an evil buzzword of the week on which to focus fear and anger, it keeps their media energized. Europe is not big on religion; it seems to make policy from a secular point of view. Europe has health care. Europe is not dealing with their financial problems well enough. All of these are horrible evil things to the right, and related, as they see it. The buzzwords have certain premises which are easy for the right to accept, but are completely bogus to everyone else.

To the right it is obvious. Of course a nation should make laws based on scriptural reference. Of course socialism is evil. Of course we should fear poor people. Of course welfare creates dependent, pitiful people. Of course any effort of the government is doomed to failure. Of course we need super-rich to “create jobs.” Buzzwords work really well for the right, as they talk to themselves, and seem unintelligible to everyone else. It rallies their troops, and mystifies the outside observers. To the right, there are unchanging principles, to which we should ascribe dutifully.

The left sees holes and problems with the status quo that need addressing, through policy, education, tax reform, all leading towards justice and equality. The right sees a system of laissez faire capitalism which has been corrupted by too much government. Each side sees issues the other does not. The right makes voter identification laws for a non-existent voter fraud issue. The left tries to help everyone vote.

I saw a Facebook posting from a right wing friend who wished we kept presidents day as a holiday instead of MLK (the fed keeps both), claiming Lincoln and Washington did more for civil rights than MLK, and that MLK was largely a politically correct holiday. Well, I have thought about a response to that… The work of Lincoln and Washington is not to be discredited – they did plenty. Why is MLK a legitimate holiday? To me it is because it’s living history – we can address what real progress we’ve made and have yet to make, and take action and be part emotionally. Presidents’ Day is good, but will lead us to conversations about the past which is long enough ago to feel stagnant.

The buzzword method is effective because the premises are assumed, never verified. The right’s method is to find fault with progress, the left’s method is to make progress when they find fault. The right tends to create problems where they do not exist, to protect themselves, the left tends to find ways to ensure justice. It’s foolish to fuss about nothing, or to protect the already well-off, or to label falsely. All this is based on reason, which ultimately trumps false dogma.

When we work toward mutual progress – which is what Obama does well – we get somewhere. Obama is especially effective at allowing fools to be exposed, as he did in waiting for the right to blather on until a deficit cutting bill was made. The Tea Party is dying now, at least less vocal, because its vanity and hypocrisy is evident to the wise.

The diehard conservatives, loaded with evangelicals will support Rick Santorum, the mainstreamers will go with Romney. This will be the eventual Republican ticket. Romney will be whomever his powerful supporters want, and Santorum will carry the “true conservative” Veep banner, and the party will attempt to unify. It’s been a near perfect fuss on the right so far, with the flavor of the month followed by the calamity of the month or even week. Obama continues to let the fools expose themselves.

I look forward rational debate!

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About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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