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I've noticed that while watching the myriad political events, stories, campaigns etc., that the term progressive is often spoken with disdain. "Progressive" has become much more of a smear, "Oh, (s)he's a liberal left-wing progressive", than a way to move the country forward. I can understand why. There are those who long for the days when parents looked after each others children in the neighborhood, when things were "relatively" safer. Are those day gone? That's open to debate. I'm more interested, not in looking backward, as so many in this country are apt to do, but in looking forward.

I often watch Fox to hear what the conservative arguments are. There are some valid points. We spend to much, tax to heavily, restrict too many freedoms. The crop of conservatives of the last maybe 15, 20 years has an inherent flaw that seems to me to be glaringly obvious, and yet the flaw continues to rear its head. Indeed, since the onset of "Reaganomics" this countries conservatives have been wrong on a host of issues. Chief among them is American Exceptionalism.

That America is exceptional goes without saying. But how did we get to be the best? We were first and foremost Progressive. "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." This is inherently a progressive ideal. We as progressives have allowed the strictest of conservatives to parade the Constitution as if only they could recite its basic premises. Is the Union perfect? Of course it isn't. But it is in the act of constantly striving for a more perfect Union that makes America exceptional. Those who would "take America back" cannot be allowed to do so. The America of the 50s, 60s and 70s no longer exists. We must move boldly or we will be doomed to the status of "Former Super Power." But, we have a long way to go.

I have often wondered why in America we let abuses go unnoticed. We deny our citizens the right to marry whom they choose. We stereotype, point the finger at others and often fail to take responsibility for our actions, both home and abroad. The media will say that American's have short memories, that we are easily distracted. While that may be possible I don't buy it. There are plenty of people who remember the mood when Reagan was elected, how the first Pres. Bush vowed no new taxes. They remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal and where they were the exact moment when the towers fell on 9/11. We devote precious little mental capacity though on making our country great. We say we want beautiful monuments and streets without potholes. But we refuse to pay more in taxes. We say the rich and/or powerful are running the country but we refuse to turn out to vote. We complain, bitterly at times, about how we were betrayed, stabbed in the back, mislead and worse. And when the time for action approaches we often are left behind.....

We have a literally once in a lifetime chance to fix some of the glaringly obvious flaws in our Democracy. We are on the cusp of something unique in our country. A younger generation will soon be taking over. The diversity that makes America great will begin to bloom again as the baby boomers begin to retire and a younger work force takes control. We should take this chance to progress toward more equality, better education and a reproach of out-dated ideals. After all, we're Americans. We invented progress. We envision change. We demand progress.

Originally posted to Qua on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 03:54 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excuse me? (7+ / 0-)

    Boomer here.

    Here's what happened to me:

    1.  Couldn't afford college.  No student loans back then.
    1. No problem, we could rise if we worked hard, had some talents.
    1.  A father's wage was enough to support a family.
    1.  Housing was affordable.
    1.  Public schools where I was were college prep.

    Then, along came Ronnie and the so-called Christian Conservatives.

    1.  Wages stopped rising, and are still flat
    1.  A father's wage wasn't enough anymore and FAMILIES WERE BROKEN UP as mom HAD to work, too.  
    1.  The Family Values liars have done more to damage families than anything prior.
    1.  Now kids can, well have to become, debt slaves to get a degree.  There's a so-called college/university in every office building in my area.  I doubt the 'degrees' are worth much.
    1.  Regardless of experience, if you don't have a degree, you are forced to work at 'entry level' for peanuts.

    That's just a short list of how our lives have eroded since Saint Reagan and the hateful Republicans have done nothing for the 90% and everything for the 10%.

    And I didn't even mention that we don't really have health care anymore.  We avoid seeking it because of deductibles and low wages.

    USA #1

    Go back to the tax rates of Jimmy Carter and repair the country and our lives.

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:04:01 PM PST

    •  Gotta Take Some Economic Regs Back Earlier (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      millwood

      Some of the deregulation started under him. Somebody today said the first cuts in cap gains tax rates for example.

      Gallup (I think) Poll cited today on the FP seemed to say about 3/4 of voters want the debt ceiling not raised, and taxes cut.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:10:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If we repealed all federal legislation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      opinionated, War on Error

      passed after 1980, it would be an improvement.

      Bring Our JOBS and Troops Home NOW!

      by Marie on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:10:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  mmmm (11+ / 0-)

    There are some valid points. We spend to much, tax to heavily, restrict too many freedoms.

    Bit of a giveaway that one.

  •  My intent (0+ / 0-)

    Was to show how things have gotten worse since the on set of Reagan, and how collectively we have allowed conservatives to "own" the constitution. At least the parts that they like (second amendment) and to disregard the parts they don't (that three-fifths thing)

  •  By exceptional they mean blessed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo

    When Sarah Palin and her gang use the term American Exceptionalism what she means is that America has a favored child status with God.

    She believes that America's prosperity, security and status in the world is directly related America's standing with the Almighty. That is why it so important to keep homosexuals from having but sex. If God looks down at America and see a bunch of gays having but sex then God will just take his blessings somewhere else.

    God is the problem, not the solution.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:19:25 PM PST

    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

      And our leaders (some of them) allow her and others to get away with it. They refuse to call racism by it's name and stand idly by while history is rewritten (Anyone heard of the Texas board of Ed?)

    •  but we are exceptional (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      opinionated, Picot verde, GeeBee

      for an industrialized country, we have excceptionally short life spans, exceptionally high infant mortality, exceptionally disfunctional politics, exceptionally bad schools, exceptionally ignorant and intolerant people, and exceptionally ineffective economy when it comes to providing for the needs of our people, and an exceptionally violent and murderous culture!

      We must be blessed!

      Another fucking retarded, santimonious purist for Obama.

      by Guinho on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 06:18:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A more useful way to think about Exceptionalism.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, RyanBTC, millwood

    isn't the literal way you've approached it. Rather think of exceptionalism as denoting an exception to the rule. In other words, the belief that your country has somehow put together the right combination of ideologies (liberal democractic capitalism, for example) and thus escaped the burden of history. It is an exception to the rule. It's also very dangerous. A country that comes to believe a set of abstractions is responsible for its success, then feels an inherent right--couched in the soft tones of obligation--to arrogantly spread its success elsewhere. In the end, this is dangerously ahistorical and leads to places like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. American exceptionalism is the utopian nightmare of neoconservatives like Cheney and company, not progressives.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

    Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

    by JoesGarage on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:30:23 PM PST

    •  Well, Yes And No... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, JoesGarage

      Absoluelty right: Exception to the rule. Why?

      30 years later, arguably we did nothing for Vietnam. Point accepted.

      Iraq and Afganistan are to soon to judge, though I have little hope for the latter.

      Countries where we made a real difference? Anyone? There are quite a few.

      You might be surprised.

      "And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." -JFK

      by RyanBTC on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:50:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I assume you're talking about Europe... (0+ / 0-)

        and Japan after the Second World War. I would argue that historical and cultural conditions were more favorable. These were--after all--industrialized societies that had institutions supported by layers and layers of bureaucratic structure. In other words, an infrastructure that was capable of bending in the direction of the US. Additionally, Europe had a history of western mores that could accept grafting, while Japan had a tradition of obedience and followed the strictures of the Emperor. My point was when you believe in the abstractions of American exceptionalism, you begin to believe that history can be vanquished by those abstractions. You come to believe, perhaps in the "End of History." Thus we come to believe that Diem--for example--could be Thomas Jefferson in a culture where the American model was deeply alien. We come to believe that somehow our utopia could erase Iraq's sectarian, ethnic, and tribal history.

        Of course, I could be wrong.

        Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

        by JoesGarage on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 05:34:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  yes, lots (0+ / 0-)

        unfortunatley, in most of those, the difference wasn't positive.  We spread bloodthirsty military dictatorships throughout latin america to protect American corporations, for example.

        Another fucking retarded, santimonious purist for Obama.

        by Guinho on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 06:20:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What Is "American Exceptionalism"? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, newliberl

    How did America get to where it is today? Historically, we have spoken about nationalities in granting various countries with "Great Nation" status. The Romans, the Greeks, The British Empire, the Germans, The Japanese of the 1980s, -China today. And so we think there is something inherant in the DNA of the various races that allowed them to acheive their success and/or greatness.

    But what race are we?

    We are all the races, all the DNA. From the (formerly) must successful countries, to the failed countries. The point being, it is not like we are some singular race, one that has received some gifted DNA. Surely we have formerly Sudanese nationals who have made great successes of themselves here, and surely we have formerly first-nation nationals who have failed and are failures.

    So what is "American Exceptionalism" if not in a Nationality/DNA make-up?

    Easy. American Exceptionalism is a direct result of our Founding Documents and the structure of our Republic.

    We became exceptional because we were "allowed" to become exceptional by those documents. We have the right, and as human nature goes, we have chosen to take advantage of that right. Okay, not all of us. But certainly most of us.

    People often wonder (remember "What's A Matter With Kansas"?) why we slubs (like WA State in Nov) don't vote to tax the rich to death.

    It is the same answer to the question: why do so many people spend what little money they have on the lotterry, knowing that the odds of winning are almost zero?

    The answer is: Because this is America, and it could happen to me.

    And that deeply felt belief (though receeding lately), is what accounts for American Eceptionalism.

    "And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." -JFK

    by RyanBTC on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:33:44 PM PST

  •  Careful generaliazing too much about Americans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Picot verde, crescentdave

    62,704,84 Americans voted for Obama in 2008, that's 52 % of the popular vote. Those voters did not go to the polls intending to lower their taxes but to stop war mongering, reform health care, and change the trajectory of the nations federal government.

    The only "once in a lifetime chance to fix some of the glaringly obvious flaws in our Democracy" already passed with the 2010 election. That's over.

    We don't have trouble selling "progress" over "going back". We have trouble with the selling of government to the highest bidders.

    "Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning how to dance in the rain." (unknown)

    by kck on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 04:49:10 PM PST

  •  Pretty much impossible as long as we white folks (1+ / 2-)
    Recommended by:
    Picot verde
    Hidden by:
    Guinho, BFSkinner

    are the majority, to make any significant advance on the social side. Well, except for gay folks of course - but then they're mostly white, so progress there isn't surprising.

    And it isn't so much that Americans' memories are short as it is that we deliberately edit things out of our memories that are inconvenient or make us uncomfortable.

    Just like we want to edit the word "nigger" out of Huck Finn. Out of sight, out of mind. Literally.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 05:13:34 PM PST

  •  Only the insecure label themselves. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GeeBee

    "A mind is a terrible thing"- Glenn Beck's followers

    by buckshot face on Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 05:31:22 PM PST

  •  It was DeTocqueville's line (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Picot verde

    "America will be great so long as she is good."

    When with "American Exceptionalism" as our ideology, and an economic and social system about to the winner go the spoils and devil take the hindmost, we no longer require ourselves to exhibit the slightest smidgen of goodness.  We torture, we disappear people, we hold people for entire lifetimes with no recourse, no charges, no hope.  M. DeTocqueville, are we still "good" then?  And what say you know about our "greatness"?  

    Hegemony is always electable.

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 12:57:28 AM PST

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