In the last couple of days, I’ve told you two tales from my youth and now I will tell you a third and final youthful adventure of mine. In my next post later today, I’ll tell you why I’ve told you…
In my final undergraduate year, back in the late 70’s, I got a job in politics working for a certain candidate for governor of a certain large state working in “opposition research”. This was a perfect position for me as a student… and the opponent was a colorful character to be sure. Sadly however I quickly became bored with researching pot smoking and long weekends with a certain well-known singer in a low key apartment away from the capitol city of the state; I wasn’t all that interested in tabloid gossip… and neither was our candidate. I was assigned some different research, that of analyzing our opponent’s public remarks and comparing them with the remarks of other candidates nationwide of the same political party with the hope that our guy could say that our opponent was “extremist”. As a soon to graduate Communication major, I dived into the project. Sadly however, what I found was that our opponent wasn’t extreme in his party at all, and was actually in his party’s mainstream, for his party had shifted more in the preceding few years than anyone had noticed.
What I discovered was a shift in language however, a shift that followed a common pattern, and the common pattern was that those candidates were calling certain things by names that described something else. Here’s an example: In that particular election cycle, one of the major parties was harping about “working families”. When I took these speeches and outlined them into a communication brief, the structural contexts revealed that “working families” was parallel to “making less than $30,000 per year.” They got away with this by never mentioning the two in the same paragraph, and working families who earned that much thought these guys were championing them. They didn’t realize that they were those nasty “rich” that were going to get hosed after the election… until it was too late. There were dozens of other examples of this that year, and our campaign never figured out how to counter this subterfuge. That experience got me thinking…
After the election, I began doing some more political research, research that would take me more than a decade to complete; I really should have written a book.
My research led to something fascinating that in America was called “Progressivism”, and which has counterparts in most Western countries. It developed from the mid 19th century into the early 20th century and has only been tweaked a time or two since. What is really fascinating about it is that it developed largely in universities and was written about and discussed lavishly for many years; in other words, the whole development of the movement took place in a “publish or perish” academic environment. Thus, it is possible to study every single word of its development and substance… and that is what took me so long to get through it. Oh yes, if you are a history geek like me, Progressivism is a geek’s heaven.
Or maybe a geek’s nightmare.
Using words to describe things that are different from what the words mean has been written about by great scholars as a way to convince the ignorant masses of “common men” to go along with the program (for their own good, you understand). To be sure, in the mid and late 19th century the expression “common man” was a pejorative, not a compliment. You would be amazed at what I discovered, and it’s all available for anyone to read… but hardly anyone does.
The most amazing thing of all is that so very little has changed since Progressivism went mainstream in the early 20th century.
Taking possible options out of play by describing a spectrum with only socialist possibilities is a Progressive tactic, political correctness is too, and you should see how many have written about the greatest dream of the early Progressives: Negating the US Constitution by teaching the young that it is organic, that it lives and breathes and that its meaning changes with the times.
I discovered one other thing, that there really isn’t any such thing as socialism, at least not as a single socio-political or economic structure. Instead it is a worldview that encompasses a whole family of political theory. Thus, If socialism can be described as “left of center” than the political spectrum I was taught: Far Left = Communism, Center = Western Social Democracy and Far Right = Fascism is only the left part of the actual political spectrum, and what I was taught in school really was a pernicious lie. But then why would that be a surprise, after all the early Progressives wrote a great deal about what they termed “the convenient lie”.
Therefore, as we try to figure out what to expect in the wake of our recent election, both in the USA and elsewhere, please understand one thing: As Scripture teaches, nothing in this world is what it appears to be, and the election and its aftermath are no exception. You see dear reader, both candidates are Progressives, even though Mrs. Clinton was the only one who said so (right after the Convention in a joint appearance with Bernie Sanders). Mr. Trump in answering every problem with how he’s going to fix it, and fast, is taking the approach of the Progressives as well.
Oh my but we live in interesting times.
Later on, I’ll tell you why I just mentioned all of this stuff; be there if you dare!