The nice thing about the word that we now use to describe the 21st version of a left leaning opposite of a right winger is it has an opposite. Just like the right hand has a "contralateral " opposing hand, the left hand-- the word PROGRESSIVE has it 's oppositional counterpart and that word is REGRESSIVE. It 's a natural, pre-existing pairing of word functions which more accurately describes 21st century politics. The right wing is no longer conservative -- seeking to maintain the old order, seeking fiscal stability and balance. The right wing is regressive, self centered and destructive, aiming to move backwards, seeking to produce the same kind of states of imbalance that existed over 100 years ago, or even 500 years ago, when children worked as laborers, when women were not allowed to vote, when feudal lords ran communities where serfs had few rights or privileges and were always on the verge of financial collapse, at the mercy of the lords of the manor.
The right wing has become so extreme that the current "middle " has been skewed so far to the right that "centrists " are now, really, right wingers. That doesn 't leave room for moderates in the Republican party. It doesn 't leave room for centrists in the Democratic party, since today 's centrists are really espousing Republicans policies and values. The most natural home, at the beginning of the 21st century is with progressives.
Even more important than the language is the TRUTH that most progressives are not extreme "leftists. " The change in politics has mostly occurred on the right. The Republican party has been hijacked by extremist, far right wing zealot multimillionaire religious leaders who have hijacked and perverted the teachings of Jesus, misleading and misguiding their "flocks " to support wrong-headed, unchristian policies and politicians.
These megachurch and televangelist demonizers of Christianity have worked hand-in-hand with right wing pundits and corporate lobbyists to cobble together a platform of irresponsible policies that are severely injuring American democracy, diplomacy, commerce and industry, jobs and workers, ecology, education, and ability to take care of and protect America.
That would be bad enough, but there are also far too many centrist Democrats who have become too chummy with the corporate lobbyists. They 've sold out too many times, no longer holding true to their responsibilities to their constituents. Hubris is rampant in the White house and in the centrist realms of the Democratic party.
The greatest strength of today 's Democratic party is coming from the progressives. The right wing, regressive, Republican extremists know this and hit the hardest with their attacks on Democrats running for office, calling them liberal, attacking anyone who is supported by Moveon, the most visible progressive organization. The right wingers have imbibed so much of their partisan power Kool Aid that they now believe that Democrats don 't have a place at the table, period. This is best exemplified by indicted former house majority leader Tom DeLay 's effort to force the judge handling his case because he is a democrat who has supported Moveon. This is totally inappropriate. Does this mean, that I, as an activist, if I get a traffic ticket I want to contest, can demand to know the political leanings of the judge I go before, and that I have the right to demand he recuse himself?
In New Jersey, perhaps the biggest political race in November, between Jon Corzine and Doug Forrester, we see Forrester reverting to what has become an almost mindless right wing mantra --accusing Corzine of being a tax and spend liberal. It 's ashame that Corzine 's response has been to come back just accusing Forrester of misdeeds. The one thing Corzine may be doing right is associating Forrester with Bush on other issues, like Stem Cell research and labeling Forrester as a millionaire who has gotten rich working with a bad health care system making money off of pharmaceutical companies who are overcharging millions of Americans. Maybe he should be going further, attacking Forrester as a supporter of far right wing extremist policies that are killing workers, keeping American education below top levels, destroying the environment, eviscerating our ability to defend ourselves from foreign and natural threats. We have to start hitting back when right wing extremists use their mindless, getting too-old, catch phrases. And we should have ready answers for them. Liberal tax and spend is their way of describing responsible, budget balancing, job building, people protecting and supporting policies that Bill Clinton proved were good for Americans rich and poor.
The DLC centrists are also getting more desperate, churning out anti-left, anti liberal, anti progressive propaganda, labeled as think tank reports, claiming that liberals and progressives hurt the chances of Democratic party success. Like Mark Twain observed about statistics -- "lies and more damn lies. "
A great word to use to describe and argue for the moderate nature of progressive policies and positions is RESPONSIBLE. Tough progressive policies will advocate a responsible leadership --responsible to constituents, responsible to the needs of America, not the interests of lobbyists and transnational corporations. These include:
-responsible dealings with national security and terrorism threats --pulling out of wars that were started and that are being maintained for bad reasons.
-responsible appointment of highly competent, deserving based on merit and experience leaders to positions of high power and responsibility in government agencies, departments and posts, rather than partisan maggots politically engineered without the interests of the nation, of justice or democratic principles in mind.
-balanced budget financial responsibility,
-visionary energy science, technology and management, responsibly looking to a future where fossil fuels are saved for non-energy purposes, like drugs, plastics, etc.
-taking responsibility for health care for all, like the rest of the first world, taking the burden of exploding health care costs off of corporations who are losing their competitive capabilities in the world markets because of congressional pandering to health care insurers and big pharma,
-responsible, future-looking ecological and environmental husbandry
-rehabilitation of our diplomatic reputation by responsible international citizenship
-responsible management of our trade, including protection of our industries and workers -- rather than the un-natural totally open, un-obstructed trade policies we now engage in.
-responsible compassionate caring for the have-nots, the people real Christians know, deep in their hearts, we should not be forsaking, as the Bush Republicans have so shamefully, even sinfully, done.
-re-instate regulations that were terminated for the benefit of corporations. Make laws that are responsible to humans, not the monster mega-corporations that show no loyalty to the USA, betraying workers and industries, every day, exporting jobs, technology investments, sourcing.
-rescue education by demanding responsible teaching strategies and a school work ethic that creates learning environments that produce students who can compete in a world market where the US 's students are trailing woefully behind.
-taking responsibility for the peace of mind of the elderly and aging my making sure that social security is not turned into stock market gambling, and making sure that corporate pension programs are adequately funded, that before corporations pay out bonuses and dividends that they prove they have put aside enough money to cover the pensions and other responsibilities they have made obligations to fulfill.
I used to consider myself a liberal. And maybe, by 20th century terms, I still am. But we live in new times with new language and today, I am a proud progressive and that means responsible, tough, pragmatic, fair and determined to rescue America from the extremists who have been abusing her.