While arguing with a friend on twitter (yea, I know), he made this statement after a lengthy debate about morality.
“I’m 100% NOT progressive”.
It’s always seems odd to me that a progressive would resist the label. Then what are you? And why would you expect everyone else to agree with your ideas if they can’t even be defined in terms of what everyone else thinks? Good or bad, that’s what labels are for.
And don’t try to point me at some textbook definition of progressive. Here are some loose definitions of progressive that are more helpful:
- If you’re upset that the healthcare bill didn’t have a public option, you’re probably a progressive
- If you’re upset that teachers don’t get paid more and you hate private schools, you’re probably a progressive
- If you use words like “military industrial complex” with disdain and you think the defense budget should be slashed, you’re probably a progressive
- If you’re upset that banks weren’t allowed to fail and you want more regulation on the financial sector, you’re probably a progressive
Some more questions: Why do progressives feel like we’ve cornered the market on “morality”? Why do we think our definition trumps everyone else’s? And how do we so easily ignore that our definition is relatively new in the history of things? Now here’s the more important question. Why do we spend so much time arguing with each other (or violently agreeing in a lot of cases)?
In my opinion, the 2 biggest issues we have is a lack of shared goals and an inability to loosen our narrow definition of “right and wrong”. There are hundreds of millions of people in this country alone. And there are just as many definitions of right and wrong. You will never agree 100% with anyone. You will never find a political candidate that never does anything you don’t like.
The reason for this is that they don’t just represent you. They represent those 100s of millions of other people as well. And some of them have wildly different ideas about how they want their country run. The fact that you can so casually toss their opinions aside, accusing people of ignorance and immorality, hurts your ability to be seen as a rational and caring individual. Instead, you are selfish and myopic if you think your idea of utopia is what everyone should subscribe to.
Instead, what would be more helpful is for us to use both that sense of rationality and that genuine caring to try and reunite this fragmented country. To try and understand as many different types of people as possible so that we can include them in our vision of the future. They have viewpoints and problems and struggles that you can’t imagine. And these may have led them to a place that you feel is wrong. But the fact is they aren’t going anywhere. They were born and raised here same as you. Whether they are misguided is debatable. The fact that they have just as much a say in what happens with this country is not debatable.
So let’s put our considerable, well-educated minds towards some other important questions.
- What does it look like in an America where *no one* feels disenfranchised?
- What does it look like in an America with *true* tolerance for the opinions of others, as long as they don’t violate basic rights?
- What does it look like in an America where we do have direct impact on how our representatives behave? What does that system look like? How do we prevent it from being gamed and/or corrupted?
- What does it look like in an America where we retain national pride and identity without ignoring our interdependence with other nations around the globe or bending them to our will?
- How do we create an America where everyone is thinking in these terms rather than exclusion, blame, derision, narrow-mindedness and ultimately impotent anger?
I’ve heard all the indignant complaints. I want to hear solutions. And not vague ideals about what a general solution looks like. But real, concrete actions for you and I to take today to move toward those ideals. I don’t have any answers right now. I’m desperate for them. But I’m generally over the self-righteous complaining while doing basically nothing.
Sorry for this rant. But breaking out of this apathy is going to take drastic measures and radically different thought processes. I’m probably going to rant more here. For one, we need better definitions of “liberal” or “progressive” or whatever the hell we want to be called, so maybe I’ll try to tackle that. But we need to be together on this. Right now we are millions of individual voices. Each of which is easily ignored.