The Apple of Discord is taking a break while I come up with new and
interesting stuff. In the meantime, I STRONGLY recommend you check out my
Fantasy Parody Epic, Apple Valley and my brand new 5-day a week humorous
expose of the dark underbelly of the Webcomic world, Webcomic Hell.

And now, a word…




Stick with me here, I have a point to prove.

I love language.  Especially the English language.  There are so many tricks that a person who knows what they are doing can make it play, so many ways to change and manipulate tiny segments to change whole huge concepts.  For instance, let’s go with a biggie… Abortion.

Now, completely ignoring the actual issues surrounding it, and there are many, take a look at the two main camps coming out of it: on one side, you have those who are for abortion as a right, the Pro-Choice side, and on the other you have those who are against abortion as a right, the Pro-Life side.  The names that have been attached to these causes are beautiful… in their complete, unabashed, total made-up-bullshittyness. 

Let’s start with Pro Choice – it’s got a C, which comes first in the Alphabet, so why not?  By labeling themselves in favor of “Choice” (and completely not mentioning actual abortion at all) they essentially paint the other side “Anti-Choice”.  And of course, Choice = Rights + Freedom in American Math, so they’re really actually “Anti-American” when you get right down to it.  Kudos.

On the other side, however, they are even better passive-agressive mudslinging.  Choice?  Who needs Choice… we’re talking about LIFE here.  By taking n the mantle of Pro-Life, they either assign their opponents as Pro-Death, or at the very least Anti-Life.  And since nobody wants to die… well, nearly nobody… it makes an automatically compelling arguement for their case… all without really ever actually mentioning abortion, dealing with any of the social ramifications, or allowing any actual intelligent discussion on either side.

Also, you’ll note, there’s not really any middle ground between these two viewpoints – especially since they’re not actually opposite.  They’d like you to think that it’s a straight line running between the two points, but it’s really not.  I mean, the actual opposite of Pro-Life would be the real Pro-Death (Slogan: “We insist on mandatory abortions… for EVERYONE!”) while the opposite of Pro-Choice would be… er… there really isn’t a word that counters choice, so let’s just call them Anti-Choice (Slogan:  “Spin the wheel!  See if you get to keep the baby or not!”).

If anything, Pro-Choice is the X axis and Pro-Life is the Y axis, and they’re just arguing whether we should fall on 1, 10 or 10, 1, because nobody would be stupid enough to actually argue (except maybe that one guy who had that one modest proposal that everybody gave him crap over) that we should dip into the negative terriroties and just automatically start offing the pre-born en masse.

I mean, this isn’t China.  (Too soon?  Sorry, it’s a little hard to gauge.)

Anyway, I say all of that to say all of this.  See, there was a point, I promised.

The Democrats are doing this ALL WRONG.  Ever since the Democratic Republicans split back in the 1800s (because the Federalists were a bunch of wusses and couldn’t get Ye Olde Foxe Towne Cryer to endorse them) into the Republicans and Democrats, the two names have been at war.  Viewpoints and ideologies have shifted back and forth several times, but the two names – The R and The D –  have been locked into armed conflict for almost 200 years now. 

Both names are fairly banal and inoffensive… and the average guy walking down the street wouldn’t know the difference between a Republic and a Democracy unless it involved the fact that there is a Banana Republic at the mall and not a Banana Democracy.  So these two vanilla names have been polar opposites (aside from, you know, all the other parties that have tried and failed to establish some middle ground between the two, win a consensus, and make us all overall happer… nobody actually pays attention to them, so neither will I).

That all changed back in the late 80s and early 90s.  The Republicans, spearheaded by a massive positive media campaign, started actively branding themselves as Conservatives.  Big C, as opposed to the conservatives they were before.  The word wasn’t new, and it fairly represented the party’s idology (at least back then, Dubya and Palin have very much gone off track on this).

Preserve the old ways, reduce government, don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.  Withdraw, hold strong, endure.  All of these are good, common assosciations with being conservative (little c).  Of course, they don’t actually matter a damn if you’re Conservative (big C), because it’s practically a party of it’s own nowadays.  So what if corrupt government is deep in bed with corrupt business and I’m letting it all happen on my watch?  I may not be conservative, but by God I’m a Conservative.

It’s like the urban legend that KFC changed their name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC so that they didn’t have to only serve “chicken”, but could instead serve other “C” things without violating their overall mission statement.  Completely false there… completely true with Conservatives.  There is almost nothing conservative about Conservatives, nothing left of the values they once represented, or the legacy they claim they’re trying to protect.

So how have the Democrats screwed this up?  Well, in the United States (your mileage may vary in other countries) the opposite of Conservative here is Liberal.  Now, unless you’re talking about food (like, “I’d like a liberal helping of chocolate sprinkles on my ice cream, thanks”) liberal is a bad word.  It’s a word that dyed-in-the-wool conservatives (small c) like myself are trained to hate and fear.

But honestly, they’re really not all that liberal – I mean, we throw terms around like “Socialist” all the time, but compared to us, even the most left-winging-left-winger is still right of center on the international scale.  We’re a conservative (still small c) nation full of people.

Compared to, oh let’s just say the Labour Party in the UK (I might point out at this time that Conservative George W. Bush was great friends with socialist Labor Party leader Tony Blair), even Ron Paul is sitting in the right side of the bleachers.

So Liberal is wrong on so many levels.  Not only is it a scary word to conservatives, but it’s not even actually that accurate on anything other than a microscopic scale.  There’s not really that much of a positive assosciation to the word liberal, and the Conservatives have made sure all of us think that Liberal = Anti-Conservative, which at least still means hypothetically Anti-conservative.

I suggest the Democrats take a page from the Republican’s own playbook.  Maybe not change their name – by all means stay Democrats – but instead of branding yourselves as Liberals, how about… Progressives?

The original Progressive Party (AKA The Bull Moose Party) was a Republican off-shoot that seperated when Teddy R didn’t carry the Republican vote and decided he was going to run a middle-of-the-road party that answered to both sides (The Republicans of the day were actually liberal, and the Democrats were conservative – I told you the names flop around).  It was historically the most successful 3rd party ever, and while it didn’t win, they did manage to ruin things for the rest of the Republicans that year.  The single biggest failing they had was that the Dems ran their most liberal… er… progressive candidate, Woodrow Wilson, who stole the thunder of the Progressive Party by being so underground he used a ruler to measure everything.

Progressive, as a name, evokes the root word… progress.  For a country mired in financial and developmental uncertainty, trapped in 2 wars we will never win and can only (at this point) hope to get out of with the countries less screwed up than when we went in… what we need is progress.

What we need is Progressives.  Looking forward, working on a future where we all can live in peace and good quality of life.  Making advancements, improving on things.  Men of Science… doing things… with beakers.

And think of the ramifications – by opposing the “Progressives”, the Republicans are implied to be against progress itself…  There’s a big difference between standing still (conservative) and going backward (regressive), and nobody wants to be known as the Regressives.  That’s almost like being Pro-Death.

So there’s my arguement, my humble little play on words.  Just consider, next time someone asks if you’re liberal or conservative (or, really, Liberal or Conservative) that maybe there isn’t just one axis to all this… and that maybe if we all start supporting progress - in whatever form it takes – that maybe we’ll eventually get somewhere.

Or is that ideal too progrssive of me?

4 Comments

  • “Now, unless you’re talking about food (like, “I’d like a liberal helping of chocolate sprinkles on my ice cream, thanks”) liberal is a bad word. It’s a word that dyed-in-the-wool conservatives (small c) like myself are trained to hate and fear.”

    From the dictionary.com definitions (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/liberal) , the worst thing I could I could find was this obsolete definition for “liberal”:

    “Morally unrestrained; licentious.”

    Everything else is positive.

    The real problem is that a similar tactic to the “Choice/Life” wordplay you described is at work on otherwise innocuous terms. Even if the term was switched to “progressive”, there WILL be another subtle manipulation of terminology by pundits and politicians to change the connotation. Actually, it’s already well underway:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,582638,00.html

    I believe that most arguments going around nowadays are caused by these kinds of political manipulations and misunderstandings (from conservatives, liberals, you name it). Humans are rational beings…but only if we’re willing to see beyond “right and wrong”. Both “sides” have their reasons for believing one way or another, any opinion can make perfect sense or seem totally crazy depending on your point-of-view.

    Problem is, the ability to see from another’s perspective is apparently even rarer than common sense.

  • Apologies if that last comment came out a bit anvilicious…

  • Funny, but any time I’m asked whether I’m Democrat or Republican, I respond “A pox on both their houses.” Of course, if I’m asked if I’m liberal or conservative, I usually answer, “Both. Go check a dictionary and you’ll see they aren’t mutually exclusive.”

    I’ve been a Discordian and hanging out with other Discordians for almost 20 years, and I rarely encounter one willing to vote for either major party’s candidates. Most of them are libertarian-anarchist or progressive-socialist (Sweden-style socialism, not Cuba-style). Incidentally, if you really want a word that really changes meaning when you capitalize the first letter, try “libertarian”… most libertarians loathe the Libertarians.

  • I started dabbling in the affairs of “major party” politics after I cast my vote into the wind (and was subsequently smacked in the face by that same vote returning a second later) in 2000 when I supported Darth Nader. I think the method behind my madness operates as such:

    1. Become a member of X Party with X Agenda.
    2. Heavily petition for a change to Y Agenda, which is not quite X Agenda but has either historical or common sense merrit
    3. Rally outlying elements in support of Y Agenda, creating a large enough mass that the party on a whole will have to address and potentially reconcile Agendas X and Y
    4. Do not allow parties to reconcile Agendas X and Y at any cost
    5. Ride the ensuing chaos out of party entirely, forming seperatist movement that will never be legitimate but will exist long enough and gain enough momentum to siphon off a significant portion of supporters of X Party.
    6. Repeat Steps 1-5 until electorial process has been destabilized.

    That’s why I’m currently working on the Democrats… the Tea Baggers are doing a number on the Republicans, and there needs to be a balance of power. And yeah, I could do a whole other thing on the Libertarian/libertarian schism, and not just because the only common ground I’ve seen between the two is that they both hate being called librarians.

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