Sunday, July 15, 2007

Call me Progressive

Ben and Jerry, the ice cream guys, convinced me that I'm progressive. While savoring a double espresso chocolate chip and coconut-almond chip double-dip cup of thousand-calorie perfection this evening, I started reading a poster prominently displayed in the shop. The poster proclaimed their position in favor of the poor, helpless, disabled and disadvantaged, and called that "progressive."

Well, count me in. I love all those people; give me your poor, your downtrodden, your huddled masses yearning to be free! I support the Salvation Army, and all the churches and charities who step forward to help with social programs, housing and work. No, I don't throw dollar bills at the pathetic guys and women sitting by the freeway offramp with the cardboards announcing "I need money," or "Single mom." Sending them paper airplanes folded from George Washingtons doesn't do much for their permanent improvement. But job training, or a shelter with shape-up rules, well, that could give the down-on-their-luck a new start.

Yes, I'm all for progress. Let's shore up marriage, give parents a say in their kids' educations, and help women with unwanted pregnancies to see the value of each precious life, including their own. Let's simplify the tax system so everybody pays 20%, the top rate suggested by the Bible. Let's make progress toward the safety of our cities, by enforcing loitering and thievery penalties, and let's progress toward the security of our country against the Islamic fanatics who would terrorize the world and topple our democracy.

I wonder: who would say he's NOT for progress?

The Islamists who want Afghanistan and Algeria to adhere to restrictive religious law--under which women undergo genital mutilation and never learn to read--want to go backward. But even they could spin their desire by saying it's progress to live the way Allah wants, rather than according to a modern culture they consider perverse. Yes, everybody's progressive.

So, I'm progressive, too. I think it's progress when here in the US, the market system of free competition prevails so that individuals can prosper. I consider it progress when the government gets out of the way so that everyone can have equal opportunity. After all, minimizing welfare has allowed thousands of formerly dependent people caught in a cycle of poverty to regain their dignity in honorable jobs.

The New York Times certainly loves the term. In fact, they often use it when in the past they'd say liberal. Ever notice that? Nobody is liberal anymore; now he's only progressive. Sounds so forward-thinking, so modern, so with-it. So NEW.

That's to contrast with conservative. Which means "I don't want any change." Stay the same, the same-old, same-old. Progressive is the opposite of stuck. The opposite of, pardon me, John McCain (above). Conservative is old man with white hair in a suit. Progressive is young guy or gal with cool hair and jeans.

So, here's what I propose: all the candidates, no matter their party affiliation or age or positions should call themselves "progressive." Especially Republicans. It's not so difficult: Repeat after me: "I'm a progressive. I'm cool. I care." We can't let liberals be the only ones for progress. Now, have some espresso chocolate-chip Ben and Jerry's.

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