Saturday, February 26, 2011

Us v Them

Saw the great Lewis Black last night and his remarks about Republicans and Democrats being essentially the same--that is ineffective--when it comes to dealing with the major issues of our time, got me to thinking. Forget the idea of monolithic political parties, perhaps the true division has always been between Progressives and Regressives.

(Regressive seems a more accurate description than Conservative. After all, there are some conservative values that even the most progressive amongst us hold. Few of us desire, or thrive, in anarchic chaos. The bourgeoisie holds the center together, and gives us something to rebel against.)

But regression implies not stasis, but a turning back. If you think about America, the one constant has been progress. Away from monarchy, towards democracy. Away from slavery towards freedom. Up until very recently, however often we stumbled as a nation, the thrust was still forward, always searching for that new frontier, that better way to do things. Think of the major social achievements of the last 100 years: labor laws and civil rights, social security and Medicare, the GI Bill, the woman's movement, and many, many more. Progressivism is the true rising tide that lifts all boats.

If we tend to think of Progressives as being exclusively Liberal Democrats, that's probably because there have been few if any Progressive Republicans in our lifetimes. The Party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and 'Fighting Bob' La Follette is now the party of Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell, and Rand Paul. Eisenhower, Nixon, even Reagan would have a hard time passing the entry exam, let alone the loyalty test. Don't hold your breath, there are no new ideas coming from these people. There never will be. They are incapable of original thoughts. They believe in an Arcadian past that is pure delusion. Anyway, you can't go back. That's not an option. You either go forward or you stay where you are--while everyone else goes forward.

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