Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The New Definition of Progress

The hot buzzword this year is "progressive".  The Democratic candidates in all races are touting their "progressive" records and are arguing over who is more "progressive".  Non-partisans are using the term to brand themselves and their cities or counties as well.  I think it was used about ten times in the Appleton mayoral debate yesterday.  But just like "don't go there", "talk to the hand" and "bae" have fallen out of favor due to overuse, "progressive" is in danger of suffering public burnout too.

America is by nature a "progressive" country.  Deciding that we were going to elect our own political leaders at all levels was certainly progress.  Establishing a free market economic system that allows people to determine their own success was progress.  Not keeping other humans as slaves was progress.  Replacing the mail with forms of instant communication like telegraphs, the telephone, faxes, e-mail, text messages and video chats was progress.  Damming rivers and building coal-fired power plants to provide electricity to even the most remote parts of the country so people didn't have to rely on windmills or the sun for their energy was progress.  Replacing streetcars and trains with automobiles that allowed anyone to go anywhere they wanted whenever they wanted was progress.  Putting men on the moon and bringing them back was progress.  Putting down Fascism and Socialism around the globe was progress.

But this week, I heard the term "progressive" applied such things as allowing dogs in Appleton parks and establishing a public arts commission in Oshkosh.  How exactly are those things "progressive"?  Some would argue that keeping dogs out of parks represents progress--as the number of dog bite cases and incidents of people stepping in a giant pile of doggy doo has been reduced.  And having giant painted lakeflies on the sidewalks of Oshkosh is moving the human race forward how exactly?

Like KISS putting out a disco record and white guys doing hip-hop, everyone and their brother will be looking to take advantage of the hot, new trend of "progressivism"--until everyone is sick of hearing the word and they move on to the new flavor of the week (which based on polling of younger people may be "collectivism").

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