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What’s In A Name? December 13, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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Hi, I’m The Cunning Runt.

What does that say about me? More, I suspect, than if I called myself John, or Mary, or Ralph. It’s descriptive; it implies that I’m smaller than average, and that I don’t consider myself to be overly dull or naive. There’s also the suggestion of a self-deprecating sense of humor, as well as an interest in words.

That’s a lot more than you would know if I said my name was Leslie, isn’t it?

Hi, I’m a Democrat.

What does that say about me? It suggests that I’m socially progressive, and don’t mind paying for services which our aggregate personages can provide, but which I couldn’t provide myself – things like roads and bridges, schools, hospitals and National Defense. But more importantly, it says that I don’t mind pitching in to provide benefits and services for others who might need them. It’s part and parcel of the kind of Populist World View which has been the hallmark of the Democratic Party for at least the last half-century.

What if I had called myself a Liberal? Between you and me, that might signify a kind of ideological kinship, a shared commitment to social progressivity, a proclivity toward consensus building and compromise-based problem solving, with a premium placed on Peaceful Outcomes.

But to others who don’t identify as “liberals,” it might suggest something quite different. Many people have come to associate the word with unwashed hippies, sexual promiscuity, atheism, a pie-in-the-sky idealism born of blissful ignorance of how the world works, and a reckless desire to tax The Working Folks to death and give all the money to Lazy-Ass Black Welfare Frauds.

Oh, and Liberals are cowards, too. We make every last Italian infantryman look like a platoon of Audie Murphys.

Let’s take this a step farther, shall we?

“Hi, I’m a ‘Leftie.'” Big smiles here in the ‘Sphere, and high-fives all around!

“Pull up a chair, Leftie! Love how you served Tancredo the other day!”

We’re One Big, Happy, Leftie Family!

But not to everyone. Those people who hated us when we were “liberals” just pumped a round into their chamber, and they’d like nothing better than to squeeze that trigger. To them, the blissfully ignorant, unwashed, irresponsible Flower Children just morphed into the Symbionese Liberation Army. We’re armed and dangerous, we love Terrorists, and we’re here to kill them. We’re Al-Qaida, we’re Stalin, and we’re bringing home the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

And we want to fuck their children.

I kid you not. Hang around a bit at Ann Coulter’s on-line lair, Human Events (I dare you,) and you’ll get to read the comments of her fawning followers:

“The Left… is no longer ‘Communist,” …Today, they are Marxist-Atheist-Homosexual-Feminist-America-hating subversives whose primary goal is to corrupt your children into becoming radical and sexual zombies by the age of ten.”

That’s a quote from one of The Faithful, and a mild one at that. Other comments suggest that “Real Americans” need to defend the Second Amendment, so they can be ready to “clean this place up” when they get the “Green Light.”

So what the hell happened? How did we go from being the people who want to help each other feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, educate our children and provide health care for our parents, to being The Enemy, morally bankrupt, intellectually vapid, hell-bent on sodomizing other peoples’ babies, vicious and violent, armed and dangerous, committed to the Destruction of Everything American?

I’ll tell you what happened: they renamed us.

They renamed us, and they redefined us, and we let them.

And at each step of the way from Democrats and Indepenents to The Left, at each stage in this etymological transformation, some plank of our Platform, some piece of our collective vision was surreptitiously removed, reshaped and reinserted as a grotesque caricature of itself. Our commitment to Diplomacy has morphed into “Spineless Capitulation.” Our embracing of The Bill of Rights has become “Being Soft on Terrorists.” Our insistence on the Separation of Church and State has been cast as a “War on God.” Our struggle for Equality for All has become “The Destruction of Marriage.”

This needs to stop. The concepts of cooperation and compromise, of consensus and concern for others, are too good, too true to the core precepts of every religion, too aligned with the Laws of Nature to be denigrated, slandered by The Self-Serving, trampled under the jack-boots of bigotry.

For many, sadly, the verbal construct of “The Left” will always be saddled with baggage from the Cold War and beyond, and all who proudly claim that moniker will be, by history, by definition, in irreconcilable opposition to those on “The Right.”

It’s time, my friends, for a little creative word-smithing of our own. It’s time for a collective identity which doesn’t spring from a Paradigm of Opposites.

I am a progressive blogger.

Let them claim to be my antithesis if they wish; let’s see how many Regressives they can enlist. Let them float the trial balloon of “Anti-Progressivism” and see what kind of a crowd they draw. Let them run “The Backward Party” up the flagpole and see who salutes.

I’m tired of being defined by people who don’t know me. I’m done with being misrepresented by think-tank hatchet men.

I want a Freak Flag with a great big PEACE symbol on it, with people of every Color and Creed and Identity holding hands all the God damned way around a Big Green Earth.

And I’m inviting you to join me, not in opposition to those who think differently from us, but in the greatest Bridge Building Project this world has ever seen.

Progressivism means leaving the divisions behind, finding our Common Ground, and not claiming it, but sharing it.

I’m envisioning two more posts to bring this concept to fruition. Meanwhile, I’ll value your thoughts and input. Just please, let’s keep it positive. We have a lot of work to do, and I don’t have time for throwing stones.

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Comments»

1. sherry - December 13, 2007

right on!

2. FranIAm - December 13, 2007

I am loving you very much right now for saying this and for saying it so well.

3. Comrade Kevin - December 14, 2007

An excellent post.

I would argue that over the years our wholesale embracing of post-modernism, existentialism, and atheism to the point that we were loathe to criticize anyone’s unique, equally valid, and no better than our own viewpoint. Unfortunately taken to ridiculous extremes, this gave us no foundation and no backbone.

In the meantime, the right shed itself of more centrist, moderate tactics and began coalescing around a group of shared precepts. To an extent, the right will always do this, but in this case, we allowed them to do it without putting up a serious challenge or calling them out.

4. littlebangtheory - December 14, 2007

That’s Part Two of this triad, coming soon. Thanks for stopping by!

5. Phydeaux S - December 14, 2007

btw, I’m waiting fer the whole sheebang afore I commence to commentin’.

(I will say, “good start”, though)

Good Start!

6. dguzman - December 15, 2007

WOW. WOW. YES! WOW.

I hope you don’t mind if I link. This is brilliant work, Runt. Brilliant. I’m in total awe.

I often ask myself what we (democrats, minorities, gay people, women, whatever group I fall into) ever did to make them hate us so much. And they do hate us, just as you say. And all we want to do is make the world a better place, a thinking place, a place where everyone gets a seat at the table and there’s food enough for all. And they hate us for it.

I can’t wait to read the rest of your “project.” Whatever it is, whatever it calls for — I’m in.

7. Suzi Riot - December 15, 2007

Well, crap. Now I gotta go rename my blog to “Rants from the Progressive Side!”
😉

8. beatgrl - December 15, 2007

Excellent post, TCR.

9. littlebangtheory - December 15, 2007

Thanks, Ladies. I’m up to my taint in Part II as we speak, stay tuned!

10. Randal Graves - December 15, 2007

Great post sir, and to continue what Comrade Kevin and dguzman said, I think it’s because we don’t have that inherent hatred of those less fortunate, that it sort of leads into the not fighting back. “Well, people will see through their facade and know that we on the ‘left’ have the better ideas.” That’s putting an awful lot of faith in Joe and Jane Sixpack. If someone is calling you out from a place of untruth, sometimes you have to verbally smack back. Hard.

11. littlebangtheory - December 15, 2007

Several good points there, RG. I’ve blogged in the past about how our nice-guy politeness translates into “getting serve” in the minds of the easily led.

One of the unfortunate strengths of the Neos is their willingness to paint the world in black and white and feed absolutes to the masses. The nuanced world view of most Progressives allows for a confusing palate of grays and browns.

It’s a paradox which needs the attention of minds like yours.

12. Mauigirl - December 16, 2007

Excellent points and great post, TCR. And it is true that our side may get taken advantage of because our natural tendency is to be “liberal” which means to see more than one point of view on things. I think we need to take more of a stand on the things we only see one side of – like “Torture is wrong.” There is no nuance there.

I look forward to your next posts on this subject!

13. Mary Ellen - December 17, 2007

This post is excellent! I can’t wait to see the next posts…amazing. Thanks. 🙂

14. Spartacus - December 18, 2007

CR, excellent post. Sorry I’ve been away so long. However, the same progressives that won us our freedom and had the foresight to write one of the greatest documents in history — the U.S. Constitution — won it at the point of a gun.

In your post you quote a Coulter ghoul as wanting to “clean the place up.” Please as much as I want peace in this world, sometimes it needs to be protected with a good fight — fists or otherwise.

15. littlebangtheory - December 18, 2007

Spart – there may indeed come a time when we need to duke up and stand our ground, but not yet.

I just posted the second piece in this series and am looking forward to a Bridge Party.


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