"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." Samuel Adams

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Liberal by any Other Name…

[Note: This piece was written by my good friend, Christian D. Malesic. Brian.]

Those on the Left side of the political spectrum have always wrestled with labels, wearing them proudly until they become dirty words and then throwing them quickly to the curb. Nonetheless, in order to communicate with one another, our language needs a term that describes the political views of those who oppose the Conservatives of the Right.

Historically speaking, they were ‘Progressives’ then ‘Liberals’ now they want to be ‘Progressives’ again. Around the start of the 20th century (circa 1900), the term Progressive came into popularity and common use. It was used proudly by many on the left to describe their political ideology until sometime in the 1940s when it began to fade away. Essentially, the Progressives themselves showed the American public what it was that a Progressive believed through President Woodrow Wilson’s anti-Capitalism and pro-Socialism stances on to which President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed an exclamation point with his New Deal.

As politics played out in the ‘40s and early ‘50s it was clear that the term ‘Progressive’ invoked negative thoughts in the minds of the public. Meanwhile, the word ‘liberal’, derived from the Latin word liberalis, had been floating around since at least the 14th century and carried with it a very positive meaning. Before the 1960s, in very simple layman’s terms the common usage of ‘liberal’ meant “free from restraint to study, to think, to speak” as in ‘Liberal Arts Degree’. As the 1960s came into full swing, the American Leftists stole the term ‘Liberal’ to describe themselves, knowing full well that they stood for the exact opposite of the freedom that the word ‘liberal’ represented. They then allowed ‘Progressive’ to die a slow death.

It didn’t take long for the common man to realize that a Liberal was a re-packaged Progressive who stood against the values and historical traditions that made America great. President Lyndon Johnson made that message clear with his Great Society, forever ruining the term Liberal.

In the last few decades, ‘Liberal’ became the “L-word” and politicians ran from the label as fast as their doublespeak could carry them. They were a political ideology without a name. Often they would don their most sheepish face and attempt to ask innocently “why do we have to use labels at all.” Conservatives continued to call them Liberals, not understanding that the word had become a modern day insult. After all, Conservatives were proud of their label and the principles & values that their label represented.

On 23 Jul 07, then Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton let out the battle cry heard around the world – we will begin to re-use the term ‘Progressive’ to define ourselves – in the CNN-YouTube Democratic Debate. In her words, when asked straight up, “How would you define the word ‘liberal’ and would you use this word to define yourself?” she replied, “… I prefer the word ‘progressive’ which has a real American meaning going back to the Progressive Era at the beginning of the 20th century. I consider myself a Modern Progressive…”

So there it is! A Progressive is a Liberal is a Progressive again. But, since the Left would have you forget history and the words of our Founding Fathers, they don’t want you to make that connection. Somehow, they want you to think that they are not Liberal which is seen as a bad word. They are something different - Progressives, a new and good word. Sure, we may argue the differences between a Mallard and a Pochard in a college classroom; but, to many of us common folk out here – If a bird looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.

We’ll just call them Liberal Progressives so that everyone clearly makes the connection.

[Christian D. Malesic holds Bachelors degrees in Political Science and Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University and Business Management from Elizabethtown College. He currently serves the citizens of the Central Dauphin (Pa.) School District as the President of the School Board. He is the President and CEO of CM Squared, Inc., an electrical contracting firm.]


Dave said...

Great article, Christian. Even though the term Liberal Progressive as a certain redundancy in it, I like it. In fact, it could be useful in keeping the L-word attached to those self-proclaimed Progressives who are trying to run from it. Please continue to contribute to our blog.

Bill said...

The irony of these people applying the term "progressive" to themselves is that they are anything but. If by progress we mean a steady upward trend in a society's material well-being and in the liberty of its citzens to realize their full potential - to pursue hapiness, if you will - then "progressives" are a roadblock to progress.

Conservatives understand that progress occurs in the context of conserving certain fundamental principles that are, in sum, liberating.

The reality is that people of the left can call themselves whatever they like; the particular choice of words doesn't mean anything. The change in name may give leftists a warm glow -- "Gee, we're good people, better people than you, because we're progressive!" -- but when the average guy sees and understands and internalizes their agenda, he understands them for what they are: socialists, marxists, collectivists, one-worlders. Leftists. That's the real L word, and it does mean something.

Brian C. Caffrey said...

Great point, Bill: a roadblock, an obstacle to progress is what progressives are. The "ant heap of totalitarianism," I believe, is the way Ronald Reagan referred to the place where the "progressives" would like to take us, all the while denying it and telling us we're overreacting. Sorry, progressives: There's nothing new under the sun.