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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reality Check ... No Demons Here

We're soon going to be hip deep in a new political season. The rhetoric is escalating to a fever pitch and people all along the political spectrum are being demonized. We need to pause for a reality check before someone gets hurt. There are folks out there for whom thinking is a challenge (none reading this, you guys have to be brilliant to stop here) who may be so goaded by the rhetoric that they are driven to violence, seeking to "exorcise" some demon or other they have heard of in political advertising or from the over-paid provacateurs of the airwaves ginning up business for their particular media group.

The other day, I heard one of our public servants from the Republican wing, in a calm tone meant to placate say, "I love America. I love Americans. I just hate Democrats." Hate? That's an awfully strong word to use on law abiding fellow Americans, and a dangerously demonizing one as well. And when did Democrats stop being Americans in your mind, sir? How do you serve all the people in your state if you hate a good many of them?  If I had an example from the Democratic side, I'd use that too ... but it's early and I can't think of one at the moment. But, the campaign ads will start soon and we'll have plenty of real-time examples from both side, more than we can stomach.

 So, here are definitions of liberal, progressive, moderate, and conservative. Consider these "the definitions of reason."

Liberal:

 
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.

2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.

 
–noun

 
14. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.
15. (often initial capital letter ) a member of a liberal party in politics, esp. of the Liberal party in Great Britain.

 
Progressive:

 
1. favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, esp. in political matters: a progressive mayor.
2. making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community.
3. characterized by such progress, or by continuous improvement.
4. (initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to any of the Progressive parties in politics.
5. going forward or onward; passing successively from one member of a series to the next; proceeding step by step.
6. noting or pertaining to a form of taxation in which the rate increases with certain increases in taxable income.
7. of or pertaining to progressive education: progressive schools.
8. Grammar. noting a verb aspect or other verb category that indicates action or state going on at a temporal point of reference.
9. Medicine/Medical. continuously increasing in extent or severity, as a disease.

 
–noun

 
10. a person who is progressive or who favors progress or reform, esp. in political matters.
11. (initial capital letter ) a member of a Progressive party.

Moderate:



1. of or pertaining to moderates, as in politics or religion. [there are other definitions, but they are off topic] 

 
–noun

 
6. a person who is moderate in opinion or opposed to extreme views and actions, esp. in politics or religion.
7. (usually initial capital letter ) a member of a political party advocating moderate reform.

 
Conservative:

 
–adjective

 
1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
4. (often initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
5. (initial capital letter ) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
6. having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.  

 
–noun


7. a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
8. a supporter of conservative political policies.
9. (initial capital letter ) a member of a conservative political party, esp. the Conservative party in Great Britain.

As the political season ratchets up, the invectives fly, patriotism is questioned, and characters are smeared, come back here and read these definitions often. There are no demons here. We're all Americans, despite our disparate views on particular issues. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter the politicians siding themselves with one extreme or the other say ... and in absolute defiance of what the "commentators" of all stripes scream.

This also applies to religion, come to think of it. These terms are often used by different faith groups to mean things that simply aren't in the definitions. Again, there are no demons here.

So, take a deep breath, read the definitions of reason, and head into the political storms of fall with a calm head. Repeat over and over again, "there are no demons here." We'll all get through this together, as Red Green would say.

No demons here ... just people with different ideas

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