Yesterday on The Dennis Miller Show, The Weekly Standard editor, and FNC contributor, Bill Kristol urged Republicans to follow Sarah Palin’s lead and co-opt the term progressive from Democrats. Kristol said, “Conservatives should not give up the notion that they’re the progressive force now in American politics.” Is the GOP so empty that they now have to steal from Democrats?
Here is the audio courtesy of Think Progress:
Kristol said, “And I agree with you. What’s progressive about heaping tax burdens and energy costs burdens on working class and middle class people in a tough economic time? I mean, who’s really for progress? People make fun of Sarah Palin, her grammar’s not so good some times and she’s always talking about “progressing Alaska forward.” It’s not a verb I usually use, but maybe she’s on to something in the notion that conservatives should not give up the notion that they’re the progressive force now in American politics.”
Kristol was doing something interesting here. He was trying to reframe the word progressive by using the standard dictionary definition, not the political definition. The standard dictionary definition of a progressive is, someone who is “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.”
The political definition is more associated with liberalism. It is, “making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community.” Notice that Kristol wasn’t discussing redefining the word as a political slur, as the GOP did with the word liberal. Instead, he wants to redefine the term.
Nothing is more indicative of the Democrats recent success, than some Republicans willingness to copy them. The creative bankruptcy within the Republican Party is so severe currently that the only thing that they can think to do is imitate the Democrats and hope voters don’t notice. The problem with this strategy is that they already attempted it in 2008 with Sarah Palin.
A majority of non-Republican voters quickly saw through the ruse of Palin as some sort of progressive reformer. In order to become relevant again, the Republican Party needs to come up with new ideas. Voters aren’t stupid. They wrap up the same failed policies with a new progressive ribbon, and expect to win a national election.