November 12, 2004

Appropriating the Language

Seattle P-I columnist Julia Youngs came out yesterday with a positively astonishing frame for the election. That the more progressive candidate won. I'll share this mind-bending quote, and send you over to read the rest:

...Bush's victory was due to the fact that nationally the majority of voters was tired of the status quo, tired of the knee-jerk conservatism of the left and wanted a progressive administration. ...

In this editorial, Youngs manages to imply that Kerry supporters came up with the idea that moral issues were decisive in the election. But that's not all. To sum up the bizarre assertions: The left owns the policies of maintaining stability above all and cozying up to dictators [hello, Rummy], while Bush is a champion of freedom and pluralism [Anywhere but Iraq?]. That it's essentially the left who treated terrorism as isolated criminal acts pre-9-11 [Wag the dog? August 6th PDB?], and opposed pursuing terrorists in the future [Except for promising to hunt down and kill them.] That the No Child Left Behind act [screwing schools], restrictions on abortion [telling women they can't be trusted with reproductive choice], privatization of social security [screwing the next crop of retirees], health care savings accounts [making sure that people who can't afford healthcare never get it], and a flat tax [taxing work more than wealth] are progressive ideals. Also, that being attached to '60s ideas makes one reactionary [This from a party who seems fond of the 1860s].

She seems to be suggesting that progress means 'doing something different than what we were doing before.' That misses the point. The Constitution is an inherently progressive document, even as originally conceived, in all its flawed and incomplete glory. Not because it was different than what had preceded it, but because it was a step forward in the welfare of humankind. Because it was centered around the welfare of the public, rather than the welfare of the powerful few, its progressive character endures to inspire people even today.

When something works, you keep it to build on. When something doesn't work, you work to phase it out with as little harm as possible. Tearing everything down just because it's there isn't progress, it's anarchy.

Posted by natasha at November 12, 2004 02:52 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

Excellent points. On a very shallow/surface level, the Bush administration DOES give the impression of being "progressive" (in the sense of making things happen, getting things done, shaking things up, stirring the pot, etc). They appear different from most politicians in this way(because they're radicals & reactionaries, not conservatives in the usual sense), and I'd guess much of the country probably likes that sort of thing, particularly after 9/11.

If one's brain is in neutral (or permanently stuck at the 7th grade level) I can see how a person could come to conclusions of the sort Ms Youngs made. Of course, the Seattle area is so liberal (I use the word proudly) that a Republican columnist probably has to write weird columns like that just to get noticed around here :-).

Posted by: jkl-sem at November 12, 2004 10:46 AM

Bush is a progressive - he makes progress at screwing up the country.

Posted by: political at November 12, 2004 03:31 PM

Perhaps someone should introduce Youngs to the writings of George Orwell. . . .

Posted by: Brian at November 13, 2004 01:41 PM

Brian, I'd guess she's been using them as how-to manuals.

Posted by: natasha at November 13, 2004 11:33 PM