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Tilting at Windmills

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July 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PROGRESSIVES....Holy cats. Are conservatives really gearing up to do the same thing to "progressive" that they've spent the last few decades doing to "liberal"? Over at The Corner, Yuval Levin takes a shot at it:

Progressivism, after all, has a very mixed history in American politics, which takes in not only efforts to reform labor laws, bust trusts, and create national parks but also some serious doses of racism, social Darwinism, eugenics, and a very strange mix of authoritarianism and out of control populism....Ross [Douthat] suggests it is no coincidence that the growing preference for the term "progressive" comes at a time when a new eugenics is rearing its head, and when the left is increasingly emphasizing its self-identification as the party of science.

Lovely, no? Did you know before now that a "new eugenics" was rearing its head? Did you even know there was a new eugenics? And that apparently us progressive types endorse it? And furthermore that if we call ourselves progressives we're implicitly endorsing every odious view of every person who's ever called himself a progressive?

Good gravy. These guys really don't know when to quit, do they?

Kevin Drum 1:21 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (99)

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Note to Retardicans: Liberalism is not dead, jack ass...our flag (stars 'n stripes) still flies.

Posted by: elmo on July 28, 2007 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

These people are barking fucking mad. Absolutely certifiable. Delusional to the point of representing a danger. Jesus Christ! WTF??? Seriously. What the hell are decent people supposed to do here?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on July 28, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Why Kevin, I thought you knew that Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all progressives. And so's Osama bin Laden and all those Muslim terrorists who hate us for our freedom to own big guns.

In fact, eugenics is only a tool for progressives. Their ultimate goal is to create an atheistic Islamic theocracy of brownish people based on the socialistic principles of Darwinism and Sharia, where evangelical Christianity is banned and everybody is forced to have lots of piercings and lot of sex while wearing a two-ply chador.

Seriously, conservatives don't even try any longer to come across as being even a little bit coherent. Is there a chance our slumbering mainstream media will finally notice how totally unhinged the right has become? Nah...
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on July 28, 2007 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

That reminds me. You need to put up more posts promoting embryo manipulation and discouraging sex for the purpose of procreation.

Lockstep, remember? Lockstep.

Your a progressive now.

Posted by: B on July 28, 2007 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

My guess is that the main result of decades spent denigrating the word "liberal" will be the end of the conservative movement--at least for a generation or two.

Let them TRY with "progressive".

Posted by: Tom Ames on July 28, 2007 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'll take up the duty of stating the (what-should-be) obvious:

Modern liberals, when they use the word progressive, are not referring to racism, social Darwinism, eugenics, authoritarianism, or out of control populism, and by far, most of them who use this word probably do not have any idea that any particular individuals who used to be called "progressive" a hundred years or more ago had any connetion to any of those.

Also, liberals' self-identification as the party of science has nothing at all to do with eugenics, and most liberals, including most of those who are really into science, probably barely ever even think about eugenics, much less advocate it.

That's the bulletin for all of those who may not know, or who are easily swayed by the disingenuous.

Posted by: Swan on July 28, 2007 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin that Levin's essay on progressivism is at worst silly, and at best irrelevent. Regardless of the history of the word "progressive", Hillary is using it as a synonym for "liberal".

I don't see the change in terminology as helping her much. Those voters who don't like "liberalism" will dislike "progressivism" if they're told that it means the same thing.

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 28, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Good gravey indeed, Kevin.

Are you being coy when you ascertain that you've never heard of the new eugenics? Ever hear of abortion? 40 million babies slaughtered and counting?

How about how some progressives are now talking about forcibly moving sunnis out of predomintately shia neighborhoods and vice versa, so we can cut and run in Iraq. How morally reprehensible is that?

Progressivism in this country has a very shady history: Eugene V Debs, fascism, socialism and now, eugenics.

Switching from liberal to progressive is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fryer.

Posted by: egbert on July 28, 2007 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, it took less than a week from when we called it.

So how long before the "Democrats" cut and run from the label "progressive" like they did "liberal"? This is what you get when you don't fight back. Ever.

Since the Democrats seem genetically incapable of sticking up for themselves and fighting back, they might as well just adopt the label "conservative" and see how much time that buys them before Republicans recover from their cognitive dissonance and find a way to attack that term too (I'd give them about three days).

Here's a thought - when Republicans try to vilify Democrats with word games, the Democrats should return the favor.

Here are a few labels a political party with a spine and half a brain could use against the Republicans: arrogant, corrupt, lawless, incompetent, perjurers, vote fraud, war criminals, terrorists, and traitors.

What did Nancy Pelosi expect would happen when she took impeachment off the table? Republicans would back off? Quite the opposite...

It's gut wrenching to watch this country get dragged deeper and deeper into a black hole with each passing week while the "opposition party" looks like a third rate PTA board that wouldn't even have the will or skill to stop calling ketchup a vegetable.

Posted by: Augustus on July 28, 2007 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Delusional to the point of representing a danger"

Blue Girl: I'd have said DISINGENUOUS myself. I don't suspect for a moment that many of these right-wing mouthpieces are remotely "certifiable" (or even grossly misinformed). To the contrary, my experience of them indicates that they're typically just bald-faced LIARS -- propaganda-spewing smear-mongers for whom honesty and integrity hold no value whatsoever. They are the most insidious of ideological pragmatists, intent only on "winning".

And here's an OT item of interest: Every American knows all about this sordid little slice of US history, right? NO???

"Bush Fulfills His Grandfather's Dream"
By David Swanson
http://www.democrats.com/node/13809

' It's remarkably common for a grandson to take up his grandfather's major project. This occurred to me when I read recently of Thor Heyerdahl's grandson taking up his mission to cross the Pacific on a raft. But what really struck me was the BBC story aired on July 23rd documenting President George W. Bush's grandfather's involvement in a 1933 plot to overthrow the U.S. government and install a fascist dictatorship. I knew the story, but had not considered the possibility that the grandson was trying to accomplish what his grandfather had failed to achieve. ...'

Posted by: Poilu on July 28, 2007 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

"... Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all progressives."

So too, apparently, was Dubya's Grandpa, Prescott. ;-) (See above article.)

"Junior" himself, meanwhile, has been put BACK on the couch!:

"Dangers of a Cornered George Bush: Applied Psychoanalysis"
By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity & Dr. Justin Frank
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18081.htm

{Some RATHER interesting reading, to say the least.]

Posted by: Poilu on July 28, 2007 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, the dirty hippies are also harsh authoritarians. Republicans just want everyone to be free, free, free. And Egbert... well, he just sits trembling, waiting for his orders.

Quick, to Baghdad with you, boy!

Posted by: Kenji on July 28, 2007 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Did you know before now that a "new eugenics" was rearing its head? Did you even know there was a new eugenics?

Yes. Yes.

This is the golden age of eugenics, it just isn't state sponsored. All over the world women decide to terminate their pregnancies because their babies have the wrong genes: some for diseases like spina bifida and trisomy 21, others for the wrong sex. It is supported by progressives, who argue that a woman's control over her body is absolute.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on July 28, 2007 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

"These were more than a bit goo goo, and they were very high on plebiscites and referenda."
-Marty Peretz

So progressive movements of the late 19th and early 20th century were "very high on referenda"? What does that tell you? That tells me there was a high degree of alienation, a majority of the population that wanted change that didn't trust a corrupt entrenched elite that wouldn't do shit about anything no matter how loud anybody complained. Gee, sounds a lot like times like these doesn't it?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on July 28, 2007 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Yuvan Levin sounds like the love child of JPod and KLo.

Posted by: gregor on July 28, 2007 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

out of the frying pan and into the fryer

What a fucking idiot.

Posted by: Seitz on July 28, 2007 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

"All over the world women decide to terminate their pregnancies because their babies have the wrong genes..."

Fetuses. Their fetuses have the "wrong" genes.

They're two different concepts, you stupid, lying fucking asshole. When you compare eugenics to ending pregnancies you're twisting the debate, perverting the truth and you know it. Because when you don't, you LOSE. YOU LOSE, you moron.

Does anyone have a link to some of Jonah Goldberg's book where he argues that U.S. liberals are more authoritarian than U.S. conservatives? I've gotta read some of that bullshit. It's hysterical.

Posted by: Kyle on July 28, 2007 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

"Referenda" should have been George Bush's middle name. His next accountability moment, will be at the gates of hell. Will he be surprised? Probably not, if he can rub his old man's nose in it. Fine buncha "conservatives" these hoodlums turned out to be.

Posted by: Kenji on July 28, 2007 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, a stupid post from MatthewRmarler, who would ever have guessed such a thing.

Show me a "progressive" who supports aborting children in order to ensure that there are fewer women and I'll show you someone who isn't a progressive.

MRM is, once again, creating a position for the other side out of the fevered imaginings of the looniest of his own side. This is really the heart of modern "conservatism."

Posted by: heavy on July 28, 2007 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

Ya' know, one might assume that people would be bright enough to refrain from calling themselves "fascists", no matter how they interpreted the word today, due to some nasty business in the middle of the last century. Well, just prior to some people putting the word "fascist" in a bad light, there were people who called themselves "progessives" who were advocating such charming practices as involuntary sterilizations for folks the "progressives" deemed unfit to procreate. No, they weren't as bad as the fascists, but they were pretty damned bad, which makes it curious that anyone today would be so enthusiastic to adopt the label.

In contrast, the label "liberal" is wonderful, and it's only drawback is that so many who are inclined to adopt it for themselves are anything but "liberal".

Posted by: Will Allen on July 28, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

And here I've been thinking DLC-style preference for the term "progressive" was a brilliant--brilliant!--rhetorical tactic for avoiding all those bad old connations the Republcans have concocted for the word "liberal." But it looks we've been outsmarted! Who could have guess they'd do the *exact same thing* with our new favorite word?

Obviously, trying to rebrand the words "liberal" and "progressive" with a positive slant is out of the question. But don't worry--I have a cunning plan. We could come up with a *new word* to describe left-of-center politics! Republicans will never see it coming. They'll be *no way* for them to repond to that!

Posted by: Scott E. on July 28, 2007 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

poilu: You mention Smedley Butler, the General they tried to enlist. One of the writers at Watching Those We Chose posted about him on July 04.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on July 28, 2007 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

In contrast, the label "liberal" is wonderful, and it's only drawback is that so many who are inclined to adopt it for themselves are anything but "liberal".

Damn. Will Allen, every now and then you remind me why I pretty much leave you to your opinions unmolested.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on July 28, 2007 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

So much for appeasement with giving up the liberal label, which by the way the DLC, Hillary, probably Obama, and a significant of democrats are not anyway. As conservatives and neocons know, it is all about the money.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on July 28, 2007 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

...and when the left is increasingly emphasizing its self-identification as the party of science.

For shame!

Posted by: DFH on July 28, 2007 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, then can try all they want, but it won't work.

They can bash liberal because there are a lot of people who are not happy with the "liberal" experience of the 60's and 70's. Lot of fertile ground there to till.

Progressive has no such baggage.

This is the reason liberal has to go. The Clintons know politics.

The average person knows they are getting screwed by the boss man. Progressives are the only option they have. Eventually people are going to admit things ain't so good any more, and that they ain't part of the "ownership" society. They are going to start asking more of their government than occupying some country on the other side of the planet.

Just wait until the war bill arrives.

And the health care costs keep eating up their raises.

And they don't have any more parents to die and leave them any more nest eggs.

And they can't extract the "value" out of their house anymore.

And the credit card bill is too out of control.

Posted by: says you on July 28, 2007 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

You are right BG, Will's idiocy is unbounded. Here's a particularly juicy nugget:

all governments are murderous. Every one of them. Whether this Administration was more so than most, or, more importantly, was more so than the alternatives, is unclear. I chose this one because I believed, and still do, that failure, within, at most, the next few decades, for the populations that sit atop the oil reserves of the Persian Gulf, to achieve self government, including self government of their oil reserves, and then choose to trade peacefully with the rest of the world, will likely result in violence not seen on a scale since the first half of the 20th century.
In other words, Will says he voted for massive violence now because he fears greater violence later. Now that's eugenics with a friendly face!

Posted by: noel on July 28, 2007 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

I really don't know what these idiots are worried about. The only people and gene sets I wish to cull from our pool are, well ok, theirs.

Posted by: bmaz on July 28, 2007 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

Reference to some older historians might help put a finger on the difference between the progressivism of the past and today. The very term elicits the question: Progress towards what? Control of business, equal opportunity, freedom from machine politics, unionism, all the great causes of the latterday Progressives were but elements of a greater Cause, according to such historians as Carl Degler and Richard Hofstadter. Degler points out that much of Progressivism was rooted in guilt, closely associated to Protestant ideals held by a generally prosperous people. Richard Hofstadter called Progressivism "a phase in the history of the Protestant conscience, a latter-day Protestant revival." As Degler wrote, "In a real sense, Progressivism was the social gospel in practice." Progressivism was the American equivalent of the European Christian Socialist movement that arose at about the same time and both had religious underpinnings. Above all, the overarching goal was to reach a moral society and many Progressives drew clear contrasts between what their society was and what their concept of Christian ethics demanded it should be.

How this linkage to Protestant religious philosophy translates into what might be called today's Progressivism isn't so clear. If there is a moral underpinning in modern Progressivism, what is its source? Secular Humanism? Perhaps for the Vanguard of the movement, but is that enough for most people? What is the ultimate goal? President Reagan referred to a "shining city on a hill," where presumably all would live in prosperous harmony, by and by. Does modern Progressivism need some secular version of Augustine's "City of God," wherein they can point to a hypothetical future in which all citizens are moral by whatever civic standards of morality are appropriate to a Godless nirvana on earth?

The hint of some ultimate goal and the similarity between what should be sought on earth and what was once expected in Heaven is not coincidental, I think. It might be that, having given up hope of a hereafter, some of the drive toward neo-Progressivism is the natural desire to make this world as perfect as possible, both physically and socially. However desirous a goal, this also has its dangers. It is already too easy for political opponents to call each other, to view each other, as immoral, or even evil. Modern Progressivism, like all movements, will tend to develop personal, as well as public, standards for behavior, just as the Progressives of yesteryear did. Thus, environmentalism, a dedication to the health of the earth, can become a touchstone by which people are, not just publicly or collectively, but also individually judged. Similarly, personal wellness, physical health, can be seen as a moral goal, rather than a matter of happenstance and personal choice. Thus, perhaps, cell research and gene splicing, the new eugenics, might actually fit within the moral scope of secular Progressivism. Certainly, universal healthcare already does.

One thing's certain. In order to avoid being described by their opponents, today's Progressives need to do a much better job of defining themselves.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 28, 2007 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

well, i think that abandoning liberal for 'progressive" without knowing or caring about the history of the term & those who used it is pretty much a bad idea on both fronts. We should take liberal back because it actually means something mostly good beyond it's recent discursive thrashing. If you know anything about the history of the 20th century "progressive" is a mixed bag, and a word doesn't mean what you want it to mean regardless of it's history just because that's how Hillary is using it.

Posted by: URK on July 28, 2007 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

It might be that, having given up hope of a hereafter, some of the drive toward neo-Progressivism is the natural desire to make this world as perfect as possible, both physically and socially

Insightful, although "perfect as possible" means two different things for liberal/progressives and conservatives. For the former it means equality of race, sex and class, uncensored information and yes, "a dedication to the health of the earth". For "conservatives" it means greed, inequality and a 'the end justifies the means' outlook on life. Conservatives talk a lot about "values". What they really mean is that they want to conserve (read: appropriate) any thing that might be of monetary value for their own use.

Posted by: Um on July 28, 2007 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Holy hell!"

"Good gravy!"

How about some well-chosen expletives, Kevin, you fucking pansy.

Posted by: ethan on July 28, 2007 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

All that said, Hillary is completely right to deny being a liberal. She actually isn't. She's in the right-leaning end of the Democratic big tent.

Posted by: derek on July 28, 2007 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

They can't win elections or debates on the basis of their viewpoints, so they have to resort to lies, name-calling and character assassination.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 28, 2007 at 6:35 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans have this really annoying tic of trying to decide what their opponents get to call themselves. Fortunately, George Bush has demonstrated the true nature of Republicanism and American so-called-conservatism...so we don't have to pay attention to their distortions.

It is like modern Republicans, of course, to oppose the movement that led to child labor laws, women's suffrage, the 40 hour work week, inheritance and income taxes, antitrust laws, food inspection, and so forth. I expect no less from lying apologists for bellicose nationalism, religious fanaticism and the super-rich. They are the party of McKinley now, right down to their dirty little war started under false pretenses and the resulting quagmire of an occupation.

Posted by: Marc on July 28, 2007 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

For "conservatives" it means greed, inequality and a 'the end justifies the means' outlook on life.
____________________

You know, Um, I think of myself as a conservative and I don't believe in any of those things. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 28, 2007 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

"So progressive movements of the late 19th and early 20th century were 'very high on referenda'? What does that tell you? That tells me there was a high degree of alienation, a majority of the population that wanted change that didn't trust a corrupt entrenched elite that wouldn't do shit about anything no matter how loud anybody complained."
__________________________

Sure does, Doc, and we see the remnants of the Progressives work in state ballot initiatives. Trouble is, such mechanisms can be used by both sides, so that, for example, when liberal (progressive) politicians raise taxes too much, you get things like "Prop 13" in California, an act of Conservative populism which promptly lowered them again. Every movement has its elite and their ideas often turn out to be screwy. An example, Prohibition was the result of the confluence of religion and Progressivism. One can claim that the War on Drugs is a distant echo of Progressivism, based on the idea that a "moral" society wouldn't allow people to destroy themselves like that.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 28, 2007 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't the opposite of "progressive" "regressive"? Push it. We're progressives. They're regressives.

Posted by: focus on July 28, 2007 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Golly, don't you guys know how to play this here game?

The eugenics (not to mention xenophobic) rap on progressives has some historical validity, but if somebody tries to go after Clinton because she's too much like Teddy Roosevelt, she wins. Does that absolve TR of the weight of his views on the Japanese? Of course not -- but those views are primarily a problem for historians.

Nobody else cares.

Nothing would help Clinton win more effectively than accusing her of being too much like turn of the last century reformers. She would talk about a soft tone and a big stick (man, would the Freudian Right love that one), about national parks, pure food and medicine, and the Republican who first proposed a comprehensive government program for the working stiff and the middle class, and she might win 40 states, hardly even MENTIONING Iraq, cuz the GOP has no answer to any of that stuff, either.

BUT -- it's not like these guys are fools, to attack "progressive" as a label. It's still pretty undefined. What if it doesn't mean Teddy Roosevelt, but Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist who founded Planned Parenthood?

Think about it, folks. Tagging a pro-choice candidate today as a eugenicist is EXACTLY the way for choice candidates to crush their opposition.

For 35 years, polls have consistently shown that THE fastest way to alienate the squishy middle on abortion issues is to judge 'em morally for the POSSIBILITY that they might be irresponsible about killing their pregnancies. People like to be trusted with their own decisions.

Tell a 25 year old woman who is not pregnant that her most likely motivation for an abortion is because she IS immoral for even considering that she might not want to carry a severely damaged baby to term, and she will recoil at your heartlessness -- not to mention the way pro-lifers who frame the issue this way put modern medicine into a bad news/bad news situation. "The bad news is that your baby has spina bifida, and guess what? Now that you know, you HAVE to accept it, or you are IMMORAL."

Won't take much to spin that as not only misogynist, but anti-science. If Republicans want to go after "progressive" on pro-life grounds, we win bigtime.

Posted by: theAmericanist on July 28, 2007 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

There are no conservatives. They have all been run out of the Republican party by a diabolical alliance of corporatists, fascists, theocrats and panderers. The Buckleys should sue the current clowns at National Review for destroying conservatism.

Posted by: freelunch on July 28, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Matthew R. Marler at 2:23:

How is it eugenics if you argue not that all babies who have diseases should be aborted, but that it should be up to the parents to decide if they want to love and care for that child and keep it, or if life would probably not be worth living for the child if it had that disease? What you're arguing is like arguing that family members of an ailing person are practicing eugenics when their sick, suffering relative has been pronounced by attending physicians to be, in all likelihood, irretreivable, and will probably just waste away prolongedly and painfully before dying-- and the family decides, subject to physician approval, to let their relative die.

Eugenics is a particular program including intentional sterilization to prevent manifestation of undesirable, heritable traits, and reproduction of the DNA responsible for the undesirable traits. If the west's abortion is eugenics, then why isn't sterilization also being practiced to get rid of the DNA? Why do the couples keep having children? Oops.

And notice, no one is advocating an intentional program of abortion and sterilization to stamp out these undesirable traits. On the contrary: when Dems talk about a specific program in regard to stamping out disease, the hot topic today is embryonic stem cell research, and nothing else.

Looks like you're very wrong.

Posted by: Swan on July 28, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Liberalism" conveys a tweedy coastal Ivy Leaguer, probably an assistant professor of some sort, who thinks merely because he or she is an Ivy Leaguer, they are inherently smarter (and thus better) than you. Said person probably watches only PBS, listens to NPR, buys almost exclusively organic and is proudly a member of "Red Sox Nation" -- despite never having been to a baseball game.

In contrast, "progressivism" conveys more egalitarian, "flyover country" ideals that are probably an easier sell to the nation -- think Wisconsin's own Bob La Follette. A "progressive" is deemed as genuine as a "liberal" is deemed phony.

Posted by: Vincent on July 28, 2007 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

To me, progressives are less early 20th century upper class reformers with an interest in national parks than 1930s/1940s communists and Stalin ass-kissers who needed a new name to market themselves with the American public.

I prefer being a good, old-fashioned liberal. FDR, HST, JFK, LBJ. Presidents who pushed through the initiatives that built this country and made it a decent place for all Americans.

Fuck the rightwing if they got an issue with that.

Posted by: Auto on July 28, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Well, as for "they don't know when to quit"...

Why on Earth would they quit now, when they were so easily able to undermine 'liberal'? It's only--from their narrow, partisan, scorched-Earth, take-no-prisoners perspective--rational to do the same to 'progressive.'

'Progressive' is freakin' lame anyway. I'm still a liberal.

Posted by: Winston Smith on July 28, 2007 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Marler,

You really are an idiot. If you really wanted to fight the spectre of eugenics, you should be engaged in an Existential Battle against unrestrained free market neoclassicism allied with entrenched corporate power. It doesn't take much to envision Proctor & Gamble advertising pills to ensure your kid will be tall, blond, and athletic.

Remind me again who are the folks that would defend this kind of order?

Posted by: bobbyp on July 28, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Good gravy. These guys really don't know when to quit, do they?"

Why are you suprised? They are well paid not to.

Posted by: bobbyp on July 28, 2007 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

'Progressive' is just as divorced from its historical roots today as Republicans are (no longer the party of Lincoln and ending slavery). Talking about the history of progrssivism can be just as counter-productive as it is helpful if you want insight into modern progrssivism. For a lot of modern progressives, the connotations a historiam might put on it simply aren't there and they aren't aware of them. Focusing on those connotations to understand progrssivism today is like putting the esoteric and the apocryphal before the main point. We're talking about a separate beast, a totally separate thing, and the most significant connection is the name. If you want to know about progressives today, ask people who say they favor progrssivism to describe thei ideas and ideals. They're justing going to describe a more vigorous version of liberals that is willing to talk about more outside-the-box approaches to solving social problems and evidence more of a willingness towards reforming society and an imagination in figuring out how to do it.

Posted by: Swan on July 28, 2007 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

And WHY should they quit...it's all been working very nicely for them...keeping the electorate misinformed and uneducated or enlightened is critical to their purposes...they want them/us willing to just open up our brains and let them pour in whatever crap Frank Luntz and others come up with. Sadly, all too many allow this to happen.

Posted by: Dancer on July 28, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Well liberals brought us the US constitution, fought and won the civil war, freed the slaves, busted the trusts, set aside land for all future generations in national parks, gave women the right to vote, fought for minority civil rights, provided free public education, built the state college and university systems, brought us Social Security, the SEC, paved roads, regulated utilities, amd health care for seniors.

Liberals won two world wars, gave us international law, NATO and the UN, and stood steadfast against the soviet threat first in Berlin and then in Cuba.

Conservatives on the other hand have tried in every way imaginable to destroy all that America has achieved by way of implementing our liberal values.

I am a proud liberal. Long live America.

Posted by: Jackson on July 28, 2007 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Why would they quit? Their paychecks would stop.

Posted by: John Forde on July 28, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatism, after all, has a very mixed history in American politics... (need I even complete this paragraph? I'm tired.)

Posted by: J. Dunn on July 28, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

If Yuval Levin wants to take a trip down History Lane, he might consider the chances of a name like his getting through the door at any institution associated with Conservatism contemporary with the Progressive romance with eugenics.
Or his own chances of getting on a GOP ticket south of Philadelphia today.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 28, 2007 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm a liberal.

Conservatives have proven themselves to be completely wrong about every single thing in the last 25 years. If they're badmouthing the term liberal, that means we should embrace it.

Posted by: Otto Man on July 28, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Labels matter. According to a recent Rasmussen poll

"Just 20% (of the people surveyed) said they consider it a positive description to call a candidate politically liberal while 39% would view that description negatively. However, 35% would consider it a positive description to call a candidate politically progressive. Just 18% react negatively to that term. Those figures reflect a huge swing, from a net negative of nineteen points to a net positive of 17 points.

"On the other side of the ideological spectrum, being called politically conservative is considered a positive description by 32% and negative by 20%. It’s much better for a candidate to be described as being like Ronald Reagan—44% consider that a positive description and 25% negative. That swing is meaningful, but not as dramatic as the difference between liberal and progressive. Being called conservative generates a net 12 point positive response that jumps to 19 points when someone is said to be like Reagan."

Of course, the conservatives have to destroy the positive implication of the term "progressive." They probably can if we let them do it the way they trashed the term "liberal." Expect more arguments of the kind Kevin describes.

Posted by: corpus juris on July 28, 2007 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Well said, Swan.

Posted by: bobbyp on July 28, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

the idea that liberals are helpless victims of a powerful and overwhelming conservative public relations campaign is myopic

there has been an effort to cast the term "liberal" in a bad light

the campaign would have had no success if people were not dissatisfied in with the "liberal approach"

can anyone deny that there was a strong negative reaction within the populace to liberal politics

conservatives used that reaction to their political benefit

liberal politics cannot enjoy success again until it addresses needs among the body politic that get attention and mobilize action

it has little to do with labels

conservative vs liberal does not matter

i see signs of life

i hope the spark i see is not killed off by the "progressive" solution

Posted by: jamzo on July 28, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

"PROGRESSIVES....Holy cats. Are XXconservativesXX REACTIONARIES really gearing up to do the same thing to "progressive" that they've spent the last few decades doing to "liberal"?"

It's time to start labeling these creeps accurately whenever we're tempted to use such RNC/AP/WaPo/Fox-approved titles as "conservative" or "neocon."

Posted by: RonG on July 28, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

If it were not for smear campaigns and lies - whatever would Republican do, what would they stand for???


Republican don't have any real policy - merely lies and smears, so that it's become the whole meaning of the word Republican - if you can't lie and mislead, than you're not a Republican.

Posted by: Cheryl on July 28, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

I literally know nothing about Ross Douthat, but I know he is part of the Yglesias BFF punditry.

Take it up with Big Media Today, Big Broder Tomorrow Yglesias.

And him why he supports these assholes, and Nyhan too.

Posted by: anon on July 28, 2007 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

If there's one thing these last decades should have taught us, it's that it's simple idiocy to try to look for unassailable positions, symbols, labels or people, because if there are no legitimate criticisms, they'll just make shit up.
Progressive sounds just fine to me. The fact that other people used the word differently a long time ago is about as troubling as the fact that still other people were using 'progress' to describe stro[ malls, big cars, and glass brick office buildings, along with a whole bunch of other stuff we don't agree with.

Worrying that we're vulnerable to attack from the party of losing a war, attacking social security, Katrina, the Schiavo case, Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, Abu Ghreib, who have brought the country 3 buck a gallon gas, a horrible economy for the middle class, and attacks on movie stars with Parkinsons?

I'm supposed to be concerned about discursive vulnerability from somebody who uses the term 'atheism/secularism'?

I'm supposed to worry about the assailability of my position in dealing with someone who equates freedom (to choose an abortion) with coercion (eugenics)?

Utter and complete nonsense.

Posted by: pbg on July 28, 2007 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

"the campaign would have had no success if people were not dissatisfied in with the 'liberal approach'"

Nonsense. The success of a propaganda campaign has absolutely nothing to do with its accuracy or its connection to reality. Nor is there evidence to support the assertion that "people [are] dissatisfied with the liberal approach," particularly since you do not define what "liberal approach" you are referring to.

"can anyone deny that there was a strong negative reaction within the populace to liberal politics"

Yup, easily, since policies espoused by liberals remain quite popular, as George Bush found out when he attacked Social Security.

"liberal politics cannot enjoy success again until it addresses needs among the body politic that get attention and mobilize action"

You're going to have to be a lot more specific than that.

"it has little to do with labels"

It has everything to do with labels. In fact, the whole campaign, as spelled out by Newt Gingrich, was all about labels.

Posted by: PaulB on July 28, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Making resort to history is a very common way to craft misleading, specious arguments, and the reason why is this:

Reasoning by analogy is only useful when the conditions and circumstances surrounding the two things compared are very much the same, and when one specific thing is compared to one other specific thing. Otherwise, a single, very superficial similarity between the two that is identified and not challenged can be made to stand for a lot more than it should. Trolls seem to bring up history a lot. It's especially questionable to compare one thing from history to something else occurring generations later, without showing how you are comparing something very specific, under very similar relevant circumstances. And this in turn is especially true when we are comparing how a name is used. No word or name is likely to be used generations later the same way as it was when it was originally used. So if we just say that someone uses a certain name today, and another group used the same name 100 years ago, so therefore they must both be exactly the same, we are making an especially questionable argument. Even people who call themselves by the same ideological label today have grave differences over ideology. This is exceoting the totally different circumstances under which two widely separate generations using the same name for their own purposes live. A name is nothing but a symbol for a concept, it doesn't by itself inherently carry objective criteria with it at all- human beings have to attach the connection to objection criteria to it, so it's a totally subjective tool. This shows how limited it is to conclude, with out knowing anything else about it-- who the users of a word are, where they're from, when they lived, etc.-- that if one person uses a name to mean one thing, another person must use it to mean the exact same thing.

It's very misleading to talk about how history is such a great teacher when you totally misuse it, to be misleading rather than informative.

Using history to examine the word 'progressive' here is misleading form the get-go because there's no historical connection between the progrssives of a bygone era and the progressives of today- that is, today's progressives are not disciples of progressives who were disciples of the orginal progressives, all having taught exactly the same lessons. So using history is misleading when you don't make full use of the history to show the historical connection (or lack of it) you are relying on. The progressives of today are rather calling themselves progressives as a way of comparing themselves to way the progressives of a bygone era did, and who they were, and what they stood for relative to their own context- they're not claiming all the old progressives' beliefs in all of their particulars. They'r not saying they're progressives to identify with a particular group or organization that has maintained consistent, uniform doctrine that consists of specific and concrete conclusions on a bunch of particular issues. Rather they're calling themselves progressives as a way of saying they're progressiveish. Other progressives, who don't know the history, call themselves progressive as a means of saying they hold similar values to the people who do know the history, and who call themselves progressives- in the 'progressiveish' sense I just described, not in the absurd, taking-resonsibility-for-everything-anybody-who-ever-called-themselves-progressive-80-years-ago-ever-said, sense.

The lesson for liberals is that when a conservative challenge on an issue at first sounds like it addresses everything, but still it doesn't sound right, don't just stand there thinking "That challenged sounded pretty good." Think, instead, "That challenge sounded pretty good, but..." There's a reason why the challenge didn't sound right- think of why it is and then articulate it.

Posted by: Swan on July 28, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not surprised. They're just a bunch of nihilists. It's a game for them, and we have to play it too--harder than they do. I sense a return to liberal hegemony (h/t to Sully).

Posted by: paxr55 on July 28, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I have no doubt that the right wing will do its best to taint the word "progressive" as they have done "liberal".

Thing is, that takes time. Most likely, it's going to take decades to achieve any real effect, just as it has with the word "liberal". In the meantime, the demographics of American politics are going to change under their feet.

The real job is for progressives (let's get into this game ourselves, for God's sake!) is to turn the tables on the right wing and render "Conservative" into a synonym for the Bush Presidency and all it stands for.

What the right wing has understood and progressives have failed to grasp is the power of negative framing, which mostly overwhelms all positive framing. Offense beats pure shit out of defense here.

The Conservatives have offered us up the Bush Presidency with its richness of nauseating qualities.

We should stop worrying about what they are going to do to us, and start planning and executing what we are going to do to them.

Posted by: frankly0f on July 28, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Every movement has its elite and their ideas often turn out to be screwy.
Posted by: trashhauler on July 28, 2007 at 8:27 AM

Agreed. Perhaps populism generally is nothing more than a "reality-checking" mechanism that gets our democracy out of the ditches from time to time. Ideological elites tend to be insulated from everyday people's lives. This creates something akin to an electrical potential that builds up when dissonance becomes too great between what everyday people experience and what the entrenched establishment tells them. IMO, "progressivism" is simply a strong urge to take action on a variety of policies and the motivation for the action comes from common sense-from the gut. Now it is the left's turn to lead the activism on health care reform and energy independence. Basically it is the overwhelming intuitive understanding that something needs to be done, but moneyed interests are standing square in the way and unabashedly obstructing any change.. any *progress* towards solving the policy problems.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on July 28, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

I wrote:

Even people who call themselves by the same ideological label today have grave differences over ideology.

That is, two different people who are alive today, such as two people who call themselves liberal or two people who call themselves conseravtive.

This is exceoting the totally different circumstances under which two widely separate generations using the same name for their own purposes live.

Should have been, 'this is excepting...'

human beings have to attach the connection to objection criteria to it, so it's a totally subjective tool.

Should have been, objective criteria.

Posted by: Swan on July 28, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

I guess I left out some thesis sentences for what I wrote:

Reasoning by history is reasoning by analogy. Reasoning by analogy is especially specious, in a general sense, because by making the argument you're implicitly claiming that because things are alike in one way they must be alike in other ways (without showing why). To make a valid argument by analogy, you have to show similar conditions surrounding the two things compared.

This problem is especially bad when arguing from history, because when you argue from history, you're from-the-get-go implicitly arguing that something that occurred at a distant time- in conditions totally different from the thing compared to it- is the same as the thing compared to it in all respects because they seem the same in one respect. To make any worhtwhile historical argument, the arguer has to show why the pertinent conditions, the conditions that could strengthen the comparison, or throw it off- are the same between the two historical events compared to each other.

Posted by: Swan on July 28, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK


The only "policy" the GOP has left is demonizing opponents. It is what they do. That business about turning the other cheek? They never grasped it. That is why they are also world-class hypocrites.

This discussion proves what we said the other day about Hillary: there is no point in running from "Liberal." They will assault the language wherever they see gentle people of conscience or can attack someone who has something they want.

Posted by: Sparko on July 28, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

The liberals don't know how to laugh these idiots off. Why the fuck would you want to defend yourslef against moronic statements by the people from the Corner? The Corner of the National Review fame, whose editor used to rant against the Negoroes up until the sixties!

Just call them Regressive Racist Authoritarians and be done with it. That the epithet is quite apt and accurate is icing on the cake.

Posted by: gregor on July 28, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

PaulB,

You are correct, there are a lot of liberal policies that have been implemented that are very popular.

What you are ignoring, is that there are a lot of liberal policies that have not been so popular. This is where Rush, et al, make their living.

The boomer generation bridged the gap across the 60's. Boomers were raised with a set of values and social mores that were turned on their head during the 60's. You may think that was a good thing, but there are a whole lot of people that don't share that viewpoint. Rush speaks to those people. The "liberals" have ingnored this fact for 40 years; it created Ronnie and it created BushII.

Deal with it and move on.

Posted by: Reality Bites on July 28, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Yuval Levin writes from a bunker perspective. I think he's been living under a rock for far too long now! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on July 28, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: folks like you can slander dead figures of the left as much as you like; we won't listen. You support Bush, and that says everything we need to know about your judgement. Wallace was a leftist; so what?

Posted by: Marc on July 28, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"What you are ignoring, is that there are a lot of liberal policies that have not been so popular."

Let the discussion begin: Name 5 of these alleged 'unpopular policies'.

Posted by: bobbyp on July 28, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The wonderful Media Matters for America reported these related points:

"...In truth, however, the Democratic class of 2006 was remarkably progressive. According to a survey conducted by Media Matters, all 30 newly elected House Democrats who took Republican seats advocated raising the minimum wage, supported changing course in Iraq, and opposed any effort to privatize Social Security. All but two supported embryonic stem cell research and only five described themselves as "pro-life" on the issue of abortion. Thirty-seven House and Senate candidates who promoted "fair trade" rather than "free trade" won; none of them lost.9 Candidates in the freshman class who were conservative on a particular issue got the lion's share of attention, but they were a distinct minority.

The journalists straining to interpret 2006 as a validation of conservatism were following a pattern they had established long before: Democratic victories are understood as the product of the Democrats moving to the right, while Republican victories are the product of a conservative electorate. For example, the day after the Republicans' landslide victory in the 1994 midterm elections, a front-page New York Times article declared that "[t]he country has unmistakably moved to the right."10 The Washington Post's front-page story that day similarly concluded that "[t]he huge Republican gains ... marked a clear shift to the right in the country."11

Similar sentiments were expressed 10 years later, following the Democrats' defeat in the 2004 election. The New York Times wrote on its front page, in an article titled "An Electoral Affirmation of Shared Values," "[I]t is impossible to read President Bush's re-election with larger Republican majorities in both houses of Congress as anything other than the clearest confirmation yet that this is a center-right country."12 Citing the purported "God gap," a Los Angeles Times editorial similarly asserted that the 2004 election proved voters "don't believe that the Democrats share their values."13 Katie Couric, then-host of NBC's Today, asked whether "this election indicate[s] that this country has become much more socially conservative."14 Chris Matthews, host of NBC's Chris Matthews Show, wondered: "Can the Democrats ever connect with the country's cultural majority?"15

In contrast, one would have searched in vain for examples of neutral media figures opining that the 2006 results marked a shift to the left in American opinion. The idea of an American public moving to the left -- or residing there in the first place -- seems to be outside the imagination of much of the press. But the data demonstrate that the American public is in fact progressive, far more so than conventional wisdom imagines them to be.

Further, the movement of public opinion, particularly on social issues, seems to be in one direction: to the left. Opinion on issues such as homosexuality and the role of women has grown steadily more progressive for the last few decades, while it is difficult to find an issue on which the public is more conservative now than it was 20 years ago..."

Posted by: consider wisely always on July 28, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK


If the right wing spooge-o-sphere would spend half as much time trying to actually solve the problems that they've caused in this country as they do re-labeling everybody they hate, this country would be a far better place. But, that would be like asking Hitler to come clean about his little "hate" problem.

Posted by: dejah thoris on July 28, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Fanatics never rest. It's time for the wimps (that would be libs, progs, whatever) to turn the tables with similar attacks. May I suggest Republicanites?

Posted by: numi on July 28, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Progressivism" is: (1) A one-work oxymoron; (2) Anti-American embodied and redefined; and Suffused with the naive, utopian idealism of youth, even if that youth exhorts the end to religion, countries, and possessions.

So, with 'liberalism', the pea was sometimes under the middle walnut, and sometimes under the left walnut. Now, with 'Progressivism', the pea is radically to the left of the left walnut.

You Progressives are besmirching your own label. For proof please read all your past comments.

Those of us libertarians who understand what Progressivism stands for consider you the greatest threat to the USA since the Southern states seceded. Your agenda almost perfectly contravenes the Declaration of Independence.

Of course, you Progressives understand none of this. Once you start using your brains -- by any measure not a foregone conclusion -- you'll realize the wisdom of my remarks.

Posted by: George Mikos on July 28, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

George Mikos: "Progressivism" is ... and Suffused with the naive, utopian idealism of youth, even if that youth exhorts the end to religion, countries, and possessions.

How adaptable; I thought that was reserved for "leftists", as you have written:

Is it this simple? Do leftists renounce religion, country, and possessions, while conservatives embrace them?

Broadly, yes. Imagine certainly expresses the ethos of the radical left. “No religion, no country, and no possessions” could be its motto, while “God, USA, and private property” could be the conservative motto.

And that you can divine such from a John Lennon song is truly... imaginative.

Posted by: has407 on July 28, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Call them RepubliCONS because of the unethical, illegal, and criminal behavior exhibited by this administration and enabled by the Republican party -- and by the Republican obstructionists operating in the House and Senate.

Posted by: consider wisely always on July 28, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"...even if that youth exhorts the end to religion, countries, and possessions."

End to religion? I don't know where you are getting that from the history of most progressive movements. Hillary Clinton could be described as an evangelical protestant (not a fundamentalist though). There are certainly atheists and agnostics who consider themselves to be progressive, but I don't think any of them would advocate changing our constitution or making laws to "end religion".

I recall Sandra Day O'Connor self-described as a "principled pragmatist". I don't think it would be inaccurate to attribute that to most progressives. I've heard that a disillusioned idealist is a cynic. I agree with that statement-and also could agree that a disillusioned libertarian could be called a pragmatist. Maybe that's why you think we're such a threat and we are so "anti-American". It may be true that today's progressive is generally a left-wing populist. But, the last time I checked we were still a democracy.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on July 28, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Fortunately libertarianism is a delustional disease that is usually cured on one's 18th birthday in well over 90% of observed cases.

There are some instances of prolonged affliction--Ron Paul for example. Fortunately, they inhabit the political margins, competing with the John Birch Society and ocassional disillusioned Trotskyites.

Posted by: bobbyp on July 28, 2007 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK
Are conservatives really gearing up to do the same thing to "progressive" that they've spent the last few decades doing to "liberal"?

Uh, duh. Of course they are. If "liberals" let it work, never effectively fought back, and in the end just started giving up and saying "we'll call ourselves something else", why wouldn't the Right do the same thing to the new name that it did to the old.

If liberals want to stop getting beaten on by conservatives, they'll have to fight back, not run and hide and hope the conservatives don't follow them.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 28, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK
Those of us libertarians who understand what Progressivism stands for consider you the greatest threat to the USA since the Southern states seceded....George Mikos at 4:12 PM
You show a lack of self-awareness that is so extreme to as to be funny. Libertarianism is conservativism with intellectual pretensions.
.......can anyone deny that there was a strong negative reaction within the populace to liberal politics....jamzo at 11:03 AM
Of course big business Republicans objected from the getgo, but most working people didn't until Truman began the trend to make civil rights part of the liberal agenda. From the time of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and Brown v the Board of Education, the rightist media attacks began to resonate with the white voter. The most opprobrious attacks were of the sort that liberals were soft on communism, soft on crime, soft on welfare and were for forced busing.
...if somebody tries to go after Clinton because she's too much like Teddy Roosevelt.... theAmericanist at 8:33 AM
The phrase used was Modern Progressive:

I consider myself a modern progressive,” said Clinton. “Someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we’re working together,”
which sounds like a fairly moderate agenda.

Posted by: Mike on July 28, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

"How is it eugenics if you argue not that all babies who have diseases should be aborted, but that it should be up to the parents to decide if they want to love and care for that child and keep it, or if life would probably not be worth living for the child if it had that disease?"

It is Eugenics because no human has a right to conceive only perfect children. We have to accept our children as they come to us, not only if they are perfect.

Progressives claim to be on the forefront of the Human Equality movements of the past and future. Fighting discrimination in all of it's forms. This would include being against discrimination of the handicapped(the physically challenged) or discrimination based on age or on residence(the immigration debate).

Abortion rights go against these very stances.
By saying a father and mother should be able to have their child medically executed for having a handicap or disorder is the antithesis of "progressivism" since it amounts to bigotry and prejudice against the physically disabled, sending the message that only the "perfect child" is worthy of birth and life and being loved and wanted.

Abortion supports is also discrimination, prejudice and bigotry based on age because it asserts that older humans are somehow physically or humanly superior to younger ones. Therefore a 7 year-old child out of the womb would have to be more human or humanly superior to an 2 month old since the 7 year-old is able to walk, talk, eat, drink on his/her own while a 2 month-old cannot.

Pro-choice progressives extol this notion by claiming a human 9 months in the womb is somehow more human than one at 10 weeks even though the biological sciences(not religion) give no evidence to support such a belief. Biology tells us with age comes greater ability bases simply that growth is needed for the human body to do certain tasks.
This in no way promotes the idea, as pro-choicers claim it does, that an older human that is able to do more(breath on his/her own as an example). In fact, what the younger human is in need of is MORE PROTECTION from the law because of their inability to fend for himself/herself. Yet the pro-choice "progressives" turn this idea on it's head claiming that a younger/weaker human deserves less protection under the law merely because this human is younger and weaker.

Lastly, progressives betray their anti-discrimination stances with the pro-choice stance because it supports the idea that a human is someone less human because he/she is on a particular side of an artificial border(the birth canal) claiming that being on one side makes you "property" of his/her mother rather than a human is his/her own right.

You would think that "progressives" would remember basic legal history and that the idea that one human could be the property of another was rejected by most of the US decades ago. Nor does medical or biological science back the idea that a human in the womb is an organ or body part of his/her mother. In fact the offspring is has a totally different biological ID and DNA from his/her mother whereas an organ or tissue from the mother matches DNA exactly to other tissues and fluids of the mother. Children are therefore not a part of the woman's body according to science.

So how can the "progressives" shout so loud that illegal immigrants have RIGHTS in the US because they are "persons"(ie humans) even though they are like unwanted fetuses in our country and Progressives fight tooth and nail to make sure humans on one side of the birth canal border never get the recognition of "person" because somehow it would cheapen the humanity of his/her mother?

This is why the whole notion of "progessive" which is supposed to be for expanding human equality world wide, rings hollow and means very little for they are "progessive" very selectively towards certain individuals and causes, but not for others they consider unworthy of there support.

Posted by: brisonc on July 28, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with egbert. I know I shouldn't feed the trolls... but...

I really was very upset when Hillary brought up how "liberal" means being for freedom and then tossed it aside.

Liberalism is always going to controversial so long as there is injustice in the world and people dare to defend that injustice. That's the price of admission to politics.

Posted by: Jim D on July 28, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Joe McCarthy taught them well.

Posted by: bakho on July 28, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl: Thanks for the link. I've long known of Smedley Butler -- his full book of "War is a Racket" is available online -- and admired him greatly. And the further details revealed in that WTWC article merely expand my esteem.

While notables like William Blum ("Killing Hope") clearly expose the post-WW2 machinations fostered by America's Capitalist elite, Butler's own revelations expand the scope of those intrigues into well over a century of rabid imperialist scheming.

Sometimes I think the Weather Underground basically had the right idea when one of their members advised, "Kill all the rich people." At the very least, it's clear to me that the unfettered concentration of wealth characteristic of unrestrained Capitalism kills, by design, and that America has NOT generally been a "force for good" in the world, as Howard Zinn rightly states..

Posted by: Poilu on July 28, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Nice try, Brisonc, but you failed to complete the argument. The issue does ulitmately fall into the area where biology, with its definitions always open to argument, has to be interpreted as law, where the definitions have to be as exact as possible, even though our law libraries jammed with case studies show a final accuracy to be an impossibility.

Quick version of your argument: intuitively, most people will agree that you cannot biologically define the point at which a fertilized cell becomes a human being. It is obvious that a fetus one minute before being born is different from a baby a minute after birth only in biological detail that should not be relevant to whether it can be called human. On the other hand, most people would not consider a fertilized cell to be a biological human, except those who have already been indoctrinated in that position by their religious beliefs. Which is why a biological argument by someone who we know originally based his/her opinion in their religious beliefs is considered with suspicion by the rest of the public.

Here's the kicker: we are not here attempting an absolute definition of humanity for purposes of science, but for purposes of law. The biological argument must be translated into law, no matter how inexact it is, or it is not useful. The religious argument can be translated into law, but it has little power to convince people outside the original relgious faction, and law generated solely by a factional religious view can easily be declared to be unconstitutional relgious coercion by our courts.

Under our constitution, the pregnant woman is considered a human with rights under the law all through her pregnancy. That part is easy. However, the point at which a fertilized cell becomes a human with rights of other humans is subject to debate. At one end of the spectrum, activists consider a fertilized egg to be legally human (in fact, anti-birth control advocates pull the definition back before fertilization). At the other end of the dispute, there are activists who consider the fetus to have no human rights until after actual birth.

Most people find both extremes morally questionable, and I include most judges, doctors, and pregnant women in that vast category.

That leaves us with two problems. At which point can the fetus be considered legally human to the point of having some version of individual legal rights? Further, that first point of law will almost certainly cause the pregnant woman to be be biologically linked with another legally defined human. What legal obligation does she have to that dependent human and to what extent can the state coerce her to fulfill that obligation?

That is where the legal conflict lies: per your argument, if the fetus can be destroyed at will by the person whose body keeps it alive, then the fetus is property. However, if the state can coerce the pregnant woman to biologically support another human, then the pregnant woman is property. From one point of view, the fetus/baby/child is being treated as disposable tissue, and from the other, the woman is being treated as breeding stock, the property of the government, her spouse, her family, or her or someone else's church.

No matter how you flog the issue, there is no simple answer, because most people, when they try to think through all the implications, feel someone is being cheated or bullied. No matter how eloquent you are, you cannot resolve the issue without considering the moral implications of actions on both the pregnant human being and the egg/fetus/child.

That should be the starting point of any discussion on abortion and most other medical issues that involve pregnancy and birth, but it seldom is.

Here are two legal points that could be considered in the discussion . . .

(a) If my sibling requires an organ transplant to live and I have the only compatible organ to donate, the government, per case law, has no power to coerce me to make the donation. Never mind the ethical issues here, we are discussing legal rights, not moral rights.

(b) If I see another human drowning and make no effort to save that person, per legal precedent, I have not committed any breach of the law. This is true regardless of how much risk to myself there might have been, or how serious or obvious the risk of death was to the drowning person. Again, the ethics of the matter are not part of the debate, this is purely a legal question. No one can dictate moral choice to another person unless that moral choice has been, for good or ill, translated into law.

And so on, and so forth, and you can eventually build a discussion on all possible complications. It isn't easy, which is why, I would guess, Justice O'Connor always considered the supreme court decisions on the "beginning of life" to be inadequate. The court tried to use biological definitions that she knew would be rendered obsolete by medical advances. The court essentially punted on the key issues.


Posted by: Berken on July 28, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Abortion supports is also discrimination, prejudice and bigotry based on age because it asserts that older humans are somehow physically or humanly superior to younger ones. Therefore a 7 year-old child out of the womb would have to be more human or humanly superior to an 2 month old since the 7 year-old is able to walk, talk, eat, drink on his/her own while a 2 month-old cannot."

It's not about age, it's about sentience. Non-sentient things have no value beyond what we give them.

Ever ponder over why we don't have ethical obligations to rocks? Or why we value cats over crickets, or chimps over dogs? It has to do with the potential for happiness and suffering, and the degree to which one has a conception of a self, and of that self moving through time.

All of your other points are easy philosophical prey.

You've just gotta drill this equation into your head: womens' right to control their own destiny >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> the rights of a fetus.

Posted by: Kyle on July 29, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

What are they going to do to "populism"? The cons have mixed feelings about that, since they sometimes like the nationalism, but corporatists are scared of the anti-immigrant, anti-corporate streak.

Posted by: Neil B. on July 29, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

has407:

"And that you can divine such from a John Lennon song is truly... imaginative."

Not quite simply droll.

Posted by: George Mikos on July 29, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Doc at the Radar Station.

"End to religion? I don't know where you are getting that from the history of most progressive movements."

I don't care what Progressivism was historically, or whether or not Hillary Clinton embodies the ethos of Progressivism. I'm talking the core agenda of Progressivism here, namely the secular, transnational, and Marxist elements.

"... a disillusioned libertarian could be called a pragmatist."

True, but anti-Utopian would be better.

"Maybe that's why you think we're such a threat and we are so 'anti-American'."

No, Progressivism is anti-American because its core agenda would diminish US sovereignty (eg, you believe the UNSC should approve all wars) and erode the US Constitution (eg, human rights trump the individual liberties or civil rights guaranteed to US citizens; specifically, terrorists at Gitmo should be afforded the same rights as US citizens). If the USA is not its sovereignty and its Constitution, what is it? Thus, any element of the Progressive agenda which involves diminishing US sovereignty or annuling large swaths of the US Constitution mandates that Progressivism itself is anti-American.

Posted by: George Mikos on July 29, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Mike:

"You show a lack of self-awareness that is so extreme to as to be funny. Libertarianism is conservativism with intellectual pretensions."

Peremptory dismissal and a habitual and ingrained resistance to dialogue are hallmarks of Progressivism, as is ruthlessly superficial thought.

Re this topic, libertarians believe in individual liberties, while Progressivism believe in group rights; aka, Marxism. This distinction is central to any understanding of the fatal flaws in modern-day Progressivism.

Posted by: George Mikos on July 29, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Mike:

"'I consider myself a modern progressive,' said Clinton. 'Someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when were working together,'" which sounds like a fairly moderate agenda.

Right. "Working together" to Hillary means one and only one thing: To every problem, there is a gov't solution. Sorry. As gov't expands, "individual rights and freedoms" contract.

Our individual liberties are under assault from a larger and ever-more-overarching gov't, from the autocratic judicial elite, and from transnationalists who are striving to supplant the US Constitution with international law. Hillary certainly will always choose a gov't rather than a free-market solution to every problem, and will always champion a legal-profession solution to every problem. However, she's not quite a committed transationalist -- at least, not yet. She and her advisors are smart enough to realize that she needs to run to the right of the other major Democratic candidates; else, she'll lose the independent vote when she runs for President. However, once President, Hillary's committed Marxism will erupt. After all, Bill is the darling of transnationalists, and has spent the past 7 years giving his deft wink-wink, nod-nod to the international community, signaling to them that a Clinton Presidency will spell the death knell of American exceptionalism. Sure, a more instusive gov't a la the EU model and a continued liberal activist judge assault on the US Constitution and our sovereigty are major threats, but ceding our individual liberties to UN bureaucrats as the Europeans have ceded to Brussels bureaucrats is the greatest threat to the USA. Under a Hillary Presidency, expect transnationalist to be perhaps her major guiding principle.

Posted by: George Mikos on July 29, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

And here I've been thinking DLC-style preference for the term progressive was a brilliant--brilliant!--rhetorical tactic for avoiding all those bad old connotations the Republicans have concocted for the word "liberal."

There's two very different types of people who prefer progressive to liberal. You're referring to the one of the two of whom I've little experience and, indeed, I didn't even know they existed until recently.

Everyone I've known for the last fifteen years who prefers the term progressive over liberal are leftists who see themselves as farther to the left than those they believe favor the term liberal. Liberal is associated in their minds with pre-socialist leftism, the traditional liberal western values that concentrate on the rights of the individual. In contrast, in their view the term progressive connotes the modern leftism which promotes communitarian values as being equal, and sometimes primary, to individual rights. Progressives of this sort are explicitly socialists or, more frequently in the US, advocates of the more moderate European social democracy.

And so from this perspective, the self-identification as progressive is, for these folks, exactly in opposition to very instinct which drives the DLC-ish adoption of the term you describe! Most self-styled progressives I've known sneer at what they perceive as the weak and centrist "liberalism" which is, for them, not very different from conservatism.

What's interesting to me is that the DLC-ish movement to adopt the term progressive and the counter-movement to reclaim liberal are both essentially reactionary (in the most literal sense). They are responses to the rhetorical attacks of conservatives. In contrast, the further left progressivism is internally reactionary, a move to distance that group of leftists from the rest.

I am much more strongly sympathetic to the leftist progressives than the centrist progressives or the leftist liberals. To my ears, liberal sounds much less like "too far to the left" than it does "too centrist". This almost certainly indicates the media context in which my impressions are formed. That so many people here in comments feel otherwise probably indicates a greater awareness of right-wing media than mine.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on July 29, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

There was a time when progressives were Republicans. The first minimum wage law and the first workers compensation laws were passed by midwestern Republicans in about 1912. Boy have they lost touch with their roots.

Posted by: sab on July 29, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Of COURSE they're going after progressive after successfully demonizing liberal! Why quit once you've found a good thing? I fully agree, liberals have no one but ourselves to blame for abandoning the label instead of defending it.

Make no mistake, abandon liberal and they will demonize progressive. Switch to "moderate" and they'll demonize that. Retreat all the way to "not a Neanderthal" and right-wingers will demonize anyone who is not a self-proclaimed Neanderthal. Its time to abandon this appeasement and stand our ground and fight. I'm not a goddam progressive; I'm a liberal and I'm proud.

Posted by: Enlightened Layperson on July 30, 2007 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

George Mikos:

No, Progressivism is anti-American because its core agenda would diminish US sovereignty (eg, you believe the UNSC should approve all wars) and erode the US Constitution (eg, human rights trump the individual liberties or civil rights guaranteed to US citizens; specifically, terrorists at Gitmo should be afforded the same rights as US citizens). If the USA is not its sovereignty and its Constitution, what is it?

Translation: I'm an American first and a human being second. Anyone who is not a citizen is dogmeat to me.

Forgive me if I don't share your priorities.

Posted by: Enlightened Layperson on July 30, 2007 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Depends which progressives we are talking about. Progressives like Robert LaFollette, Burton K. Wheeler, Hiram Johnson and George Norris or one's like Theodore Roosevelt and Marget K. Sanger, who really did believe in eugenics. Progressives back then fought amongst each other to defeine theior movement.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on July 30, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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