In defense of "progressive"
Blogger Jim Miller posted on the Seattle conservative blog Sound Politics July 5 a piece calling out the Seattle Times editorial board for describing some Seattle political candidates as “progressives.” He writes:
“Their term leaves me slightly confused, because the editorial writers don’t say what makes these candidates ‘progressive.’ I am fairly sure that they mean candidates I would call ‘leftists,’ Rush Limbaugh would call ‘liberals,’ and many Europeans would call ‘social democrats.’ But just fairly sure.”
I’m the writer who used the word “progressive” in the editorial you complain of to describe two Seattle political candidates. I used it because they used it themselves and because the people around them use it.
I don’t think Miller is that confused. He does know what “progressive” means. If I had a list of stands on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, Obamacare, the Commerce Clause, the war in Afghanistan, dams on the Snake River, cap and trade, the export of coal to China, drilling for oil in the Arctic, plastic shopping bags, a high minimum wage, a state income tax, etc., etc. I am confident that Miller could pick the “progressive” choice in every one of them. He does not approve of the label, “progressive,” I assume because it suggests that his political opponents are for progress and he is not. If so, he has a point. But the mainstream media is pretty much stuck with using the labels large political groups put on themselves.
Miller wrote that he prefers the term “leftist.” But “leftist” suggests hard left, and Seattle does have a hard left: the anti-WTO, anti-corporate, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, etc., left. The two Democrats I described are not part of that group, and if The Times used a term that suggests they were, we would be misleading our readers. If we used some of the terms Miller’s readers playfully suggested, we would be committing political libel.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics