Whither Progressivism?

Great article by Paul Weldman on the big supposedly-“liberal” media’s refusal to so much as ponder whether the electoral events of 2006 and (hopefully) 2008 represent a progressive shift in the nation’s cultural politics. I agree with Paul’s analysis, and think that what it really represents is the extent to which the MSM has become so terrified of denunciations by the rabid and vocal right for being “liberal” that they refrain from making sensible conclusions that would seem to give the slightest scrap of ammunition to the NRO crowd.

Comparisons to our friends in Sweden aside, a look at the issue terrain at the moment shows a public firmly in the progressive camp. On foreign policy, on economic policy, on social policy, on just about everything, it’s the progressive position that is more popular. The median voter in 2008 is pro-choice, supports civil unions for gay Americans (a position that seemed insanely radical only a decade ago), rejects the Bush foreign policy, supported the recent increase in the minimum wage, wants strong environmental protections, favors reasonable restrictions on gun sales, thinks the wealthy and corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes, and wants the government to guarantee universal health coverage. Does that sound conservative to you? And younger generations are more progressive than their elders — in fact, it is the pre-baby-boom generation that is the most conservative on most issues. And they will only be around for so long.

Exactly. Perhaps Americans have come around to realize that the politics of hatred, personal attacks, theocracy, and bigotry are just ciphers to mask the complete intellectual bankruptcy of the right. If this election cycle is teaching us anything, it should be that the Reagan era is decisively over — and we can hope that a return to a more sensible, equitable, and pragmatic politics is on the horizon.

Although I consider myself a staunch progressive, I have nothing personal against true conservatism — gentlemen like Andrew Sullivan, Colin Powell, Ross Douthat, Fareed Zakaria, etc. all contribute to a sensible and rational debate of politics and culture in America. I may disagree with certain of their views, but I’m certain that if we were to sit down and debate issues like health care, tax policy, and foreign affairs, we could at least do so in a civil manner, even if there were significant differences in policy advocation. The problem is that for so long now, intellectual conservatism has been hijacked by the Bush-Limbaugh-Rove radicals for whom conservatism is nothing but a means to more power and secrecy. Let’s hope that November 4th represents a double turning point — one of America toward a more progressive outlook and one of conservatism back to its intellectual roots. Debate is good for America. Republican thuggery is not.

*Updated with headline

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~ by Benji on 23 October 2008.

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