Thursday, August 30, 2007

Progressives and Liberals

Two people have accused me of being a "progressive" in the past few days. Well, I'm not and what's more, I really detest that label. I'm not liberal, either. Nor a Conservative, although popular belief seems to dictate that I be one or the other. Either that or the dreaded middle of the road "moderate." I'm not one of those either.

I have a friend that is very opinionated about people who label themselves. He gets very irritated with people who identify themselves as "conservative" or "liberal" because, as he says, "people let the label inform their ideologies." He says that people who proudly proclaim they are a liberal will nearly always reserve their opinions on a new issue until they ascertain what the correct liberal stance should be. Same with conservatives.

I dislike labels, too; some more than others. I really dislike that people who used to call themselves "liberals" now call themselves "progressives." To call oneself a Liberal used to mean that you ascribed to certain ideologies that challenged the status quo. It meant that you were one of the revolutionaries that would throw off the shackles of tradition and push the envelope of socially acceptable mores. It meant burning your draft card or your bra, and being against any effort to preserve traditional controls on society. In other words it meant refusing to act like a grown-up, and being damned proud of it.

"Progressives", it could be assumed, are for progress. Well, who isn't? Why do people formerly known as liberals have a corner on this word?

When people advocate for change, such as implementing a new law, they usually do so because they feel it will bring progress. But in today's label obsessed lexicon we ascribe different labels to different laws based on how they fit into our understanding of political ideologies. For example, if the law was for stricter gun controls then it would be called "progressive." But if the law was to increase controls over people who commit crimes by using illegal drugs it would not be called progressive; It would be called "conservative". Why? Both are to make a safer society. Both would be progress, wouldn't they?

The real reason that liberals are calling themselves progressives these days is because Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have made "Liberal" a dirty word. I know very few people these days who proudly say they are a liberal. Thus the switch to "progressive." It was a smart move, I confess, because who can object to someone being for progress?

But it still ticks me off. Especially when Mayor Jones says things like "our City is progressive" like he did in the days after the recent table games vote. Don't lump me in, Mr. Mayor, with people who vote for table games for no other reason than the money it will bring. Don't label me as a "progressive" that would vote to ignore the pleas and warnings of people whose lives have been destroyed by gambling in favor of a larger balance in the B&O fund.

Progress? Only time will tell.

1 comment:

Judith Blakley said...

I tell people that neither side will take me and moderates hate me. HAHA!

I also say that I am registered Independent, before there was an Independent party.

I detest labels too. I like thinking for myself and having the right to disagree with someone I just agreed with.