Progressives are often considered professorial, which in many circles is tantamount to being called wordy. Contrary to that questionable conventional wisdom is a definition of a progressive that includes two short points. A progressive:
1. Is not afraid to talk about any subject, so long as the dialogue is civil.
2.Feels the pain of those who are suffering and is willing to for action to be taken through the public sector to help alleviate that pain.
Regrettably, most “progressives” run the gamut from the “liberal like Joe Biden” to the “moderate like Claire McCaskill.” They seem to consider certain issues to be off limits. They don’t want to violate principle number one, openness to discussing virtually any issue).
What are some of the topics that progressives in the 75% – 50% range (with 100% being a genuine progressive) are reluctant to discuss.
- Gun control is like leprosy to moderate progressives. It hasn’t always been that way; during the riots of the 1960s most liberals supported banning most forms of firearms because they were the weapon of choice in both crime and mass uprisings. Concern about the dangers of guns extended into the 1990s when President Bill Clinton was able to get Congress to agree to banning eleven types of assault weapons. And if we rewind the clock, progressive strongly opposed the high-powered machine guns, rifles, and handguns used by organized crime during Prohibition and extending into the period of American Mafiosi supremacy (now the dubious distinction of primacy is the bailiwick of other countries).
In January, 2011, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded; six others were killed and thirteen more wounded by Jared Loughner, an unstable individual who exacted his damage with a Glock 19 pistol.
In April, 2007, a student at Virginia Tech University, Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others on campus. He later committed suicide. His weapons of choice for the carnage he inflicted were an easy to get 2 mm semi-automatic handgun and a 22-caliber pistol.
In neither of these massacres was the topic of gun control given serious consideration. The last time that the role of guns as a contributing factor to killing was truly discussed was the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. It wasn’t Reagan who brought it up or the family of the three law enforcement agents who were seriously wounded. Rather it was Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady who was shot in the head and suffered permanent neurological damage. He and his wife, Sarah, were so appalled by the indifference to the use of a handgun that they started an organization called Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
2. There are certainly other topics that progressives used to discuss but seem to have lost from their vocabulary. It is somewhat interesting that two of them became a common part of our language within two years of one another. When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Roe v Wade ruling on January 22, 1973, the word abortion could now be spoken rather than whispered. The word “choice” is also nearly expunged from our reproductive vocabulary.
Roe v Wade was handed down exactly three years and three months (April 22, 1970) after the first Earth Day, in which progressives openly embraced environmental causes. Conservatives and some moderates now consider being pro-environment tantamount to being anti-energy; anti-economic growth; anti-job growth; and in some cases, even anti-American.
The silence of the progressives reminds me of an incident when I was in fourth grade. Someone at lunch uttered a word I had never heard before, shit. I thought that it was hilarious that there was a word that you couldn’t say if it didn’t insult anyone. Several times I marched around the cafeteria saying shit, shit, shit. A teacher heard me and immediately sent me to the principal’s office where I laughed, even when my parents were called. On a relative scale, they were pretty cool about it all.
I hope that I along with other progressives are now engaged in more important issues that striding around the cafeteria saying *hit. How about saying “gun control,” “abortion,” “choice,” and environmental protection.” There are many others as well, especially regarding labor and consumer rights.
It’s obviously absurd to wait for the John Boehners, Mitch McConnells, and Mitt Romneys to use progressive words in any fashion other than pejorative. Real progressives use them properly. Next are the Barack Obamas, Joe Bidens, Claire McCaskills, and other “in the middle.” Let’s do what we can to encourage them to do so. Step number one: walk around a school cafeteria repeatedly saying “gun control, gun control.”
Since 1969, Arthur Lieber has been teaching and working in non-profit educational organizations. His focus has been on promoting critical, creative, and enjoyable learning for students in informal settings. In the 2010 mid-term elections, he was the Democratic nominee for US Congress from Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.