The other day I was having a chat with a coworker, who I discovered is, like me, a Democrat. During our talk, I mentioned that ‘we Liberals” think this certain way, when she interrupted me and said, “I am not a Liberal. I am a Progressive.”
That was a head-scratcher for me, as I had never really pondered what the difference is. She then explained that it mainly had to do with differing views on Democratic fiscal policy, where Liberals believe more in a safety net for individuals approach where Progressives advocate more of a safety net on a macro scale, such as regulations in the food and drug industries, for the public good.
Remember that phrase ‘public good’ – I will be coming back to that later.
I did some on-line research, based on our discussion, to delve further into the purported differences, because, quite frankly, I have only heard this label ‘Progressive’ being used in recent years. Back in the day, Democrats were Liberals and Republicans were Conservatives. Ah, but not any more – there are New Democrats, Compassionate Conservatives, Red Dog Democrats, Tea Party Conservatives and so on. So, while doing my research, I found that the real reason for the moniker ‘Progressive’ is that the word ‘Liberal’ has been demonized by the right – in other words, a different word was created meaning essentially the same thing that doesn’t have the sneer factor associated with it. Picture a 2010 Republican political ad – “Nancy Pelosi (invoke sneer here) Liberals in Congress…” It helps if you grit your teeth and snarl while you say it, for effect.
So if this is the case, that Liberal and Progressive essentially mean the same thing, then call me either. Just do so with a level of dignity, please. If you can, then read no further. If you cannot, then I implore you to read on, because that would mean you are a snarler.
I mentioned public good earlier. This phrase enrages the right, as to them it is a buzzword for Nanny State, Huge Government and the like. And the right abhors such things – recently-announced Presidential candidate Rick Perry, in his announcement speech said that, if elected, he will make “Washington as inconsequential to your life as possible.”
Well that’s uplifting. Elect him and he will embark on deconstructing. Hope your 401K rebounds before you retire, since Social Security will likely evaporate with that kind of mindset.
But that’s not the ‘public good’ I was thinking of. It is another one, and it has ties to both Perry and, more directly, Michelle Bachmann, another Republican running. It has to do with the HPV vaccine. For those that do not know, HPV is a virus that is rather prevalent in young women that could lead to cervical cancer. Well fear not, as there is a vaccine, which, administered to girls around the age of 12, can pretty much eradicate that possibility. It is a simple as getting a shot and removing the possibly heinous way of dying. Awesome.
Ah, but hold on a sec – Bachmann has inside information about this vaccine that apparently the medical world is not privy to. See, she was at a campaign stop last week when a person told her that a friend’s daughter had the vaccine and contracted mental retardation as a result. Stop the presses!
So let’s recap. We have the combined wisdom and research of the medical community versus what a Republican candidate was told by someone about someone else’s daughter. In a rational world, this is no contest. Unfortunately for them, Republicans left rational at the station when they jumped on the Tea Party Express.
So, why would anyone – even the far right – actually be against a vaccine that will save lives? Sadly, it is a simple answer, and one that should give everyone pause – to their way of thinking, giving young girls a vaccine that has to do with the cervix implies tacit approval of teen sex. And we all know that is bad. Ergo, in order to maintain their indefensible position they have to demonize the vaccine through the use of innuendo.
What does this have to do with Perry? Well, let me first state that I think if he is elected (which he won’t; our country has had our fill of Texas swagger in the White House, thank you very much) we are in serious trouble, I have to give him much credit for approving the use of the HPV vaccine for Texas schoolgirls while he was governor. Now that’s a Compassionate Conservative.
But Bachmann is not part of that cadre. Too Liberal for her tastes. And she’s twenty points down in the polls to Perry. So out trots twisted logic straight out of Ferris Bueller implying that since she heard from someone who heard from someone that was at 31 Flavors last night that the vaccine may have dire side effects we should immediately halt the administration of it. Let women die a horrible death for the purpose of political gain.
So to summarize, on one side of the political spectrum you have the belief of research and medical advances. On the other you have hearsay and innuendo that, interestingly, is anti-women. And anti-science. Well excuse me Mr. Perry, but that is hardly ‘inconsequential.’ And excuse me, Ms, Bachmann, but I don't give rat's ass what some wingnut told you in passing at a political rally. To me, that is inconsequential. And that it isn't to you, is alarming.
So remember this story. And remember public good. Based on that alone you cannot in good conscience ever vote for these people. Young women will die.
That is not inconsequential.