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About Conscience of a Progressive

Welcome to Conscience of a Progressive

This blog is my crack at fighting back against the excellent Republican/Conservative/Retrograde spin machine which has been so successful at distorting on national conversation over the past 30 or so years. I started it at the encouragement of friends and family who suggested that, after about a year-and-a-half stretch during which I wrote about 45,000 words worth of comments to various New York Times Op-Eds, perhaps I ought to do more than send links to a few friends.  I put it up in March of 2010, but populated it initially with a select few of those legacy posts. Hope you like ’em.

I’ll be playing around with its format as I learn about blogging tools, and I’d particularly welcome any comments or thoughts about how to make it better during this period. Please also check back occasionally — WordPress has a lot of little widgets, and it would be great to get feedback as I experiment.

If you like what you see, I hope you’ll comment, subscribe, tell others, and/or post the occasional item to to your facebook or twitter page. I expect I’ll post 2-3 times a week, but right now this is all a big experiment. If the thing takes off maybe I’ll get a chance to be one of those barking morons you see once in a while on cable TV. Stranger things have happened….

In any case, thanks for reading, and feel free to join the conversation. As dismal and discouraging as it is to have to contend with morons, psychopaths and mental defectives, it’s much worse to let them hijack our policies and politics. Progressive thought and action is solely responsible for the innovation in governmental systems and social structures which have characterized our country since its founding, and we have a responsibility to preserve that as best we can. I hope you’ll join me in fighting the good fight!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Palumbo permalink
    April 17, 2010 12:26 pm

    A question to spark a little discourse….. some say that the Progressive movement is an effort to disinherit the Constitution …what do you think about that and how do you personally view it?

  2. April 17, 2010 1:09 pm

    So…there are a number of things wrapped into that question that I think bear consideration.

    The first is to ask who the “some” are. So much of what passes for political discourse these days is toxic rhetoric and outright lying that it is — unfortunately — difficult to consider questions solely on their merits anymore. You really have to understand where they come from and ask yourself whether, separate and apart from their political perspectives, those people are reliable observers. If that question comes from Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, Boehner, et. al., you really have to discount it as just more of the same rabble-rousing. I think there are some on the left as well (Olberman springs to mind), but much fewer. The Republicans are, frankly, much better at framing the discussion than the Democrats are, and this strikes me as one of those ploys.

    Secondly, you have to ask yourself what role The Constitution should have in the formulation of policy. Although I’m loath to put words in anyone’s mouth, literalists seem to assert that it’s something like The Bible — the complete, perfect, unchanging word of The Founders (who take on the character of demigods), that each word is sacrosanct, and that if an issue isn’t specifically articulated somewhere within the four corners of that document, than the government has no role to play in addressing it.

    My own feeling is that The Constitution was an excellent establishing document, as good as could be had for that particular moment in history, but also a product of compromise and therefore deeply flawed in a number of ways (the 2nd amendment, for example, is flat out poorly-written…it was clearly intended to promote the establishment of local militias in order to defend a fledgling nation which, at that time, had no standing army or budget for self-defense. The fact that it’s split into two clauses has allowed gun nuts to claim that it was intended to protect individuals right to arm outside of the context of a “well regulated” group formed for the purposes of protecting their community. And then, of course, there’s the whole slavery thing).

    It’s obvious to any thinking person that the founders could not have even remotely foreseen the kinds of social and economic issues that face the country today, nor that the document would apply to 50 states as diverse yet mutually dependent as the US has become, nor the dramatic changes of the industrial revolution, the development of nuclear weapons, the incredible changes brought about by technology, the flood of immigration starting after the Civil War, etc., etc, etc. And in fact here are strong indications that they intended it to be revisited periodically through constitutional conventions — part of not projecting the diversity is also not projecting how hard it would be to get together to make changes.

    My personal view is that there are no establishing documents, either civil or religious, which can possibly be as valid centuries after they were written as they were when the ink was drying. It’s just a pipe dream. I also think that The Constitution serves the same role for many people as does The Bible — something concrete which gives them comfort and spares them from the terrifying challenge of having to make decisions that they don’t feel equipped to make in the here and now. I also think it’s been misused by people who are afraid of change — a way of justifying their desire to protect the status quo, and of rationalizing their fear and loathing of the changing nature of the world, and of “the other”, and of their growing sense of powerlessness. As may be obvious, I have little use for those arguments — I don’t think they count as well-thought-out opinions, nor do I respect the cognitive powers of people who have so little perspective on their own motivations.

    Lastly, I think the phrase “progressive movement” implies something that doesn’t really exist (would that it did!). My definition of a “progressive” is someone who believes that the goal of society is to become increasingly more civilized, and to advance both technologically and in the direction of the ideals that most of us believe in (justice, enlightenment, the evolution of humanity). As I think I’ve said somewhere else on this blog, just about everything that we now take for granted in our day-to-day lives — including, ironically, The Constitution! — was, in it’s time progressive…or even radical. Today’s world-ending outrage is tomorrow’s inalienable right. Some of us understand the march of history and embrace the challenges that come with the process of growth and achievement. Some just want to live in a little bubble, feel safe & secure, and not involve themselves with making the world a better place for people 1, 2, 5 & 10 generations down the road. We each have to decide what’s important to us and to act accordingly. I see those principles strongly embodied in The Constitution, and to me those principles are what we should pay attention to, not the inherent limitations of a document written in a radically different time.

  3. June 4, 2010 5:31 pm

    Lastly, I think the phrase “progressive movement” implies something that doesn’t really exist (would that it did!). My definition of a “progressive” is someone who believes that the goal of society is to become increasingly more civilized, and to advance both technologically and in the direction of the ideals that most of us believe in (justice, enlightenment, the evolution of humanity). As I think I’ve said somewhere else on this blog, just about everything that we now take for granted in our day-to-day lives — including, ironically, The Constitution! — was, in it’s time progressive…or even radical. Today’s world-ending outrage is tomorrow’s inalienable right. Some of us understand the march of history and embrace the challenges that come with the process of growth and achievement. Some just want to live in a little bubble, feel safe & secure, and not involve themselves with making the world a better place for people 1, 2, 5 & 10 generations down the road. We each have to decide what’s important to us and to act accordingly. I see those principles strongly embodied in The Constitution, and to me those principles are what we should pay attention to, not the inherent limitations of a document written in a radically different time.
    +1

  4. July 11, 2010 3:38 pm

    Where have you been lately my friend? You’re missed.

  5. August 26, 2010 1:48 pm

    I keep looking for you. Hope you come back soon.

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