Thursday, January 15, 2015

'I consider myself a proud modern American progressive'

During the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate on July 23rd, 2007, one of the more memorable moments featured an online questioner asking Senator Clinton to define the word "liberal" and if she would use the word to describe herself. Her response:
You know, it is a word that originally meant that you were for freedom, that you were for the freedom to achieve, that you were willing to stand against big power and on behalf of the individual.  
Unfortunately, in the last 30, 40 years, it has been turned up on its head and it's been made to seem as though it is a word that describes big government, totally contrary to what its meaning was in the 19th and early 20th century.  
 I prefer the word "progressive," which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century. I consider myself a modern progressive, someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we're working together and when we find ways to help those who may not have all the advantages in life get the tools they need to lead a more productive life for themselves and their family.  
So I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I think that's the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring back to American politics.
Just words? Hardly. Though sometimes lost in the back-and-forth of the historic 2007-2008 primary battle, Clinton ran a campaign that was in some respects more progressive than Obama's, particularly in domestic areas such as health care. Had the question gone to Obama instead, I can almost guarantee that the answer would have been along the lines of "we need to get away from labels" and consistent with his "not blue or red states, but the United States" consensus-building message...which was fine and admirable in its own way.

But give credit where it's due: the last time she ran for president, Hillary ran as a progressive and was refreshingly proud to tell you why. I wouldn't expect anything different this time around.

The clip below contains both the question and response, but also continues into a testy exchange between Senator Obama and the semi-lovable crank Mike Gravel (now there's a name I haven't heard in a long time).

2 comments:

  1. This also stuck in my head from the debates: A spot-on answer to a difficult question. Hillary and Obama are both so articulate, even compared to the more lucid of the present-day Republican field. When you get into the T-party group, it is literally like listening to drunken barroom rants.

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    1. You got that right...and they loooove to comment online in the most offensive and juvenile ways possible. It's coming...so be prepared!

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