When Senator Evan Bayh resigned from Congress, his biggest complaint seemed to be that it had become “impossible to get anything done” in the Senate because of too much partisanship.
Along those lines,TV pundits and political spokespeople often use phrases like “get the country going again,” or “make progress” to describe what they wish Congress were doing. We even have politicians who call themselves “Progressives,” who belong to the “Progressive Caucus.”
The very name “progressive” suggests that these people believe that the country is headed somewhere and that they are the ones most dedicated to getting us there.

Others, of course, are convinced that progressive is a code word for liberal or left-wing extremist for whom progress means advancement toward a system requiring maximum state control over the citizenry.

But, in this context, what does “progress” actually mean? Language, one of man’s greatest inventions, is an essential tool for communication but only when people agree on what words mean. If I said list as many “Hollywood Stars” as you can and I’ll do the same, the chances are good that we’d write some of the same names on both lists because we broadly agree on what the word “star” means. I would bet, however, that two lists of what “national progress” means would be quite different. Even where such lists might overlap, say, by including “maximum employment,” further examination would reveal vast differences in how that goal should be achieved and maintained. As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.” Certainly, in the last presidential election, voters held very different definitions of the simple words “Hope” and “Change.”

What’s going on in Washington these days was inevitable and a long time coming. It’s the collision between fundamentally different and ardently-held political philosophies where compromise is hardly to be expected. Describing Republicans as the “Party of No” ignores the Democrats’ negative resposes to ideas like “tort reform” or “privatizing” social security, etc. Each party is the “party of no” when it comes to the fundamentals of each other’s philosophy.

Some people are overjoyed when a huge snowstorm prevents Congress from meeting and the government pretty much shuts down. After all, as countries go, ours is pretty good even with just the status quo. But we do have big problems.

So what is to be done? Whatever it is, it will have to be determined by the political philosophies of the majority of the American people. What’s that you say? You don’t have a political philosophy. Believe me, you do; you just may not know how to express it yet. You could start by determining what “progress” means to you. Then work to elect politicians who share your views.

I hope your views will include adherence to that oath that the President and many other officials are required to take. It’s a good one: “To preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

At least that’s the way it looks from here.

© Dwight Boud 2010

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mickey Boud on March 8, 2010 at 5:33 am

    About the so-called ‘Progressives,’ I prefer to call them the ‘Regressives’ because their collectivist plans (socialist, communist, fascist, statist, corporatist, etc., have all been tried before and failed, such as, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and many other tyrannical states. Some are currently present: Cuba, Venezuela (and her South American allies), N. Korea, Iran, and I’m sure there are others. The only reason Communist China is beginning to ‘progress’ is because they have adopted capitalism as a means to gain wealth for the select few on the backs of the hungry masses. Frankly, there’s nothing truly ‘progressive’ about any of them. They are elistists and utoians who think that if we surrender our freedom and give them the power, they can do better than the rest of us. And when people resist their benevolent caretaking, they just have to exercise a little force — “for our own good.” Ah, well, this is a very old story.
    As Tiny Tim was known to say: “God bless us, one and all.”

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