Or, The Best One Sentence Platform for the Democratic Party
The June 26, 2006 issue of Nation featured a piece by Bernie Horn entitled “Progressive Values 101" calling for a need to more succinctly articulate the Progressive philosophy. It’s becoming obvious that simply pointing out the vast multitude of ways Bushites are jeopardizing the country, even highlighting attacks on its most fundamental principles, is not adequate. Unfortunately, there are far too many battles being fought on far, far too many fronts, which risks dissipation of focus. Worse, a simple litany of the incompetence, cronyism, waste, greed, delusions, bias, injustice, lies and naked aggression, especially a long one, tends to turn off the listeners who automatically presume the other side does the same things.
Mr. Horn went on to elaborate his own boiled down version of what Progressivism is explaining the interplay of “freedom,” “opportunity” and “security.” It resonated with me, but still stuck me as far too complicated to sway those voters with short attention spans who bought wholesale into Bush’s so-called “Compassionate Conservatism,” “Moral Values” and “War Against Terrorism.” Besides, the Bushites too continually allege they themselves are for Freedom, Opportunity and Security. As usual, they have just redefined or shifted emphasis on the same words. It has proven far to easy for those now in control to pervert the debate and hide the facts, especially whenever there potential ambiguity is present.
Is there any way to set forth a truly simple litmus test of the Progressive versus the Bushite philosophies? It needs to be something which cannot be perverted. It needs to be something that holds up in 10 second commercials either for or against.
I believe there is. It’s an even more fundamental summation of Progressive philosophy than Mr. Horn’s three principles, one that encompasses nearly all that Progressives, old style Liberals and even the Democratic Party platform itself seem to stand for. It’s the “Golden Rule.” Nothing more. And, more importantly, nothing less.
Think about it. Is there anything in Progressive philosophy that cannot be encompassed in the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” phrase? Everything from caring for the ill, the aged, the young, the poor and the downtrodden to trying diplomacy before bombing fits well within it. It is the foundation for women's rights, civil rights, balancing of powers, judicial review and all our other rights. It’s a justification for impeachment, since the Golden Rule implies accountability. And, it does not preclude saving jobs, saving money or self defense. Even more esoteric concepts, such as leaving the environment we all live in pristine and protecting its flora and fauna for the future, in their essence, are within the ideal that both we as individuals and our government should strive to be Good Samaritans.
The Good Samaritan parable comes from the Bible (showing us once again that Middle Eastern tribes have much to teach us if we do not constantly declare them enemies.) It also is a staple of multiple religions taught from Sunday School onward. Nevertheless, one does not have to be religious to appreciate its applicability to society as a whole regardless of faith. Better yet, it is a concept everyone instantly understands and can easily apply to almost any proposal by any politician of any stripe.
Best of all, Progressives can proclaim they want to apply the Golden Rule while the Bushites want only to shorten it to “Gold... Rule[s]” and “Do unto others....[first].”
In physics, they are still searching for the universal theory that applies. We are more fortunate in politics. There is already one available and it belongs to the Progressives. Therefore, let us go forth and loudly demand that only Good Samaritans should hold office and they better damned well be able to prove it in everything they have said and done.