The Limits of Labels 5


We all have very high standard and ideals and are desperate to see this country great again.  That feeling is felt to the left and right of the spectrum.  We want a sense of safety and security back, yesterday.

Problem is that safety and security are completely subjective views.

Though the sense of desperation is shared, we each offer slightly different opinions on interpreting Obama’s motives so far in this general election.   Until we see how he governs, we will never be able to truly judge if his decisions on foreign surveillance were strategic necessity or integrity about an issue the left disagrees with.  I prefer to use the totality of what I know to judge Obama on this and any other issue I disagree with him on.  I am not a single issue voter.  I never believed Barack to be a classically liberal democrat, so I have not felt “betrayed” by anything he has done.  I considered him an electable and pragmatic second choice to Dennis Kucinich.  Dennis dropped out before our primary or I would have voted for him instead of Barack.

The general election is about a nation, though, and not just a political party.  A general election requires all of us to expand our minds and see at three or four or five dimension.  Especially now, when the stakes have never been higher.  If somehow we can disagree with Barack’s stand and yet increase our support instead of ditch him, we will all come across as grown-ups to the many folks who don’t bother commenting on these threads but are probably reading them the same reasons as us. (If you think a couple hundred bloggers drives enough ads to keep the lights on at TPM, I have a great investment opportunity for you.)  Assuming there is a silent audience, imagine if we come across as pragmatic and willing to forgive the duped even as we punish the guilty?

Republicans want closure too, they just think we are conspiracy theorists.  Guilt will need to be proved in a court of law.  Does that make them evil?  I don’t think so.  Just classically conservative. Most republicans aren’t neocons, despite the brilliant takeover of the party by those PNAC/Nixon-era wack-jobs.  I think all Americans are idealists in one way or another.  I would have much rather debated the offending legislation as a policy issue vice a “Barack sold us out!” issue.

My ideas on transparency would make this legislation immaterial.  I say let them have all the data.  Every transaction, every second.  Won’t be long before it is way too much.  Of course, that would require many other safeguards and changes to work, but Barack is certainly not liberal enough for me on this and other issues.  I  also understand I am not the mainstream of America right now.  I can be patient and take a long view on this.

The American center is heading back toward the left.  It is inevitable, but we can delay the process by being unreasonable during this time of reconciliation and transition.   Reagan won his landslides by convincing his “enemies” that all of his horrible ideas where in America’s best interest.  You didn’t have to agree, but by God we would fulfill the mission.

America is very mission oriented.

Put the GOP on a Green Mission for God and Country if you want to see movement on progressive ideas.   Let’s create an environment where the republicans and the democrats argue over who has the most sustainable policies, despite the methods they use to get the job done.  Let’s use this opportunity to make labels immaterial with regards to our larger shared goals as a nation.  A president can create that kind of change, but only if we get him elected first with a governing majority.

To win with a governing majority we must be willing to forgive our conservative brothers and sisters for being victimized by the neocons these past 40 years.  We must dispense with labels long enough to feel like Americans first if we are going to fix the many problems looming on the horizon, let alone those already under our feet.  We need to grow up a little and admit the possibility of gray areas.

We have reached the limit of labels to contribute to anything other than the continued desecration of our nearly-dead Republic.

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5 thoughts on “The Limits of Labels

  • BevD

    Jason, I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again – Obama is a centrist – his positions during the primaries was to the left because he was running for support of the left during the primaries. He is not a liberal, he is not a progressive, he’s a centrist.

    Read his books, read his white papers, listen to what he says – Clinton is a progressive who was running to the center during the primaries, Obama was a centrist running to the left during the primaries. The progressive, liberal candidate is Clinton, Obama is the centrist, conservative democrat.

    I’m not making moral judgements here, both candidates would be good presidents imo, but Clinton is the progressive. Now we have all these so-called “progressives” like Markos, Moveon, NARAL, Hundt, et.al, wondering what the hell happened to their progressive candidate – what happened to their progressive candidate is that they failed to support the progressive candidate and instead supported the centrist. So ultimately, we’re set back another four to eight years in electing a progressive – we’ll get there eventually, but because of their poor judgement we now are postponing most progressive goals and we’ll lose on most progressive issues.

    They chose unwisely…

    • JasonEverettMiller

      You are using labels to rebut my argument against labels? What I am saying is that these labels are meaningless.

      He is a centrist? What’s that mean? A liberal republican? A conservative democrat? Based on his writing and his legislative accomplishments he is as liberal as any other democrat in the senate.

      He has a vision for this country that can only be defined as progressive. How he will get there will use both “liberal” and “conservative” means, but the ends are progressive. The problem is all these people you speak of conflate the words liberal and progressive. They do not represent the same thing in my mind.

      The logical fallacy in all of this (your comment included, I am afraid) is that these labels are actually representative of anything real. Based on what is certainly anecdotal evidence from my own life, I am proposing those labels you use they are not sufficient to capture the complexities of America.

      • BevD

        Of course I used labels, labels are used to identify things and people. The “logical fallacy” in your argument is your claim that we will use “conservative means” to accomplish progressive goals. Conservatism is the opposite of progressivism, therefore the means of conservativism serves to accomplish their goals which is to maintain the status quo.

        I also did not claim that liberal and progressive mean the same thing – obviously, they don’t. If they did we wouldn’t need two labels.

        Based on his writings and his record, he’s a democrat but that doesn’t mean he’s to the left or progressive or even very liberal. Just about every position he has from trade to abortion to health care runs to the center of the spectrum – he holds the same opinion as most people do – he’s neither too left nor too right. (He’s like Baby Bear…)

        • JasonEverettMiller

          “Conservatism” has been promoting progressive causes since the country was born. Nixon passed the Clean Air Acts and promoted forming the EPA and OSHA. Teddy Roosevelt created the National Parks system. Many republican presidents did progressive things.

          Just because the modern republican party if full of a bunch of neoconservatives, doesn’t mean their history is more or less progressive than democrats. Obama is a democrat based on his policy initiatives. He is most certainly “progressive” in his aims. But he may use conservative means to accomplish progressive ends (faith based initiatives & health care reform) or he may use liberal means to accomplish those ends (increasing the powers of regulatory bodies or using the Justice Department to prosecute “white collar” criminals.)

          You ably prove why my main premise is correct – this country has reached the end of the usefulness of labels to describe ourselves and our politics. Why do you think fully a third of the electorate identifies as independent?

          Not sure why you must be so combative and dismissive when making your points though. Whether you agree or disagree with my opinions is immaterial, but when you present your rebuttal as if I am an idiot and you are here to set me straight with some “facts” it takes every ounce of self-control I have not to respond in kind.