I enjoyed my friend Gary Hooser’s editorial attempt to define the U.S. political spectrum in The Garden Island the other day. I also enjoyed the annoyed responses. One of the rules of communication and general semantics is that everyone needs to agree what a word means.
If people have different understandings of a word’s meaning, then we are not actually communicating. “Progressive” is one such word. No one agrees on its meaning.
My own view differs quite a bit from Gary’s on the meanings of “liberal,” “conservative” and “progressive.” I know plenty conservatives who see themselves as progressive. I know plenty liberals who are fiscally responsible. Is anyone really against progress?
Full disclosure: I rarely vote for a Democrat or a Republican. I vote for the environment. I vote for nature. I was pleased to vote for Gary Hooser.
I often vote for “None of the above” or a third party that reflects my views.
I was a little kid when Eisenhower was president. The federal government was quite small in those days. Eisenhower warned about the Military Industrial Complex. He was a conservative.
The U.S. has the strongest, enforced environmental laws in the world: the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. All these laws were signed by President Richard Nixon, a conservative.
Back in the day, when I first became a leader in the Sierra Club, the membership was equally divided: Republicans and Democrats (unfortunately, not true anymore).
In my opinion, government has failed, especially the federal government. It is wasteful, bureaucratic and ineffective. Government is bought and paid for by big business interests.
The state and county governments are not much better. Many folks who label themselves as conservatives see those who label themselves as progressives as sort of nut-cases, advocating more and bigger government.
To attack conservatives as favoring the “law of the jungle” isn’t fair. Most people who call themselves conservatives want pretty much the same things that the rest of us want. Clean air, clean water, protecting nature, roads, schools, law enforcement, etc., are goals we all support.
Rather than “putting each other in a box” with bad-guy labels, the solution is for all us to become involved in the community. Before you start, just know that a lot of problems cannot be solved by government, no matter how much money is spent. (Look at all our wars in the Middle East.)
Pick your issue. Get rid of your black-and-white thinking, study the issue from all points of view and go out and try to convince people. An involved community will not tolerate a dumb, ineffective government.
Then, we are all progressives.
Gordon LaBedz is a resident of Kekaha.