by Chris Bowers, Fri Apr 21, 2006 at 08:53:45 AM EDT
But I guess we are supposed to have ten words, not four, and the next six words are a little more contentious. Even though they are very similar phrases, I went with "practical government" instead of "effective government" because I think "practical" is a better gut-level expression of so-called techno-liberalism than "effective," which is a little too corporate-speak for my tastes. Progressives believe that the goal in government should be to find out what works, rather than to govern based on theory and faith. A belief in science, a willingness to admit mistakes, and the reality-based community are all summarized by this phrase.
I also debated for a while between "common good" and "mutual responsibility." I think any accurate elevator pitch about progressivism needs something to express the simple sentiment that we are all in it together, rather than out fending for ourselves. In the end, I went with "common good" to elevate the tone a little bit. I like the slightly less preachy, yet somehow still more values-speak, tone of "common good." It also has none of the multi-syllabic awkwardness of "mutual responsibility." I think it sounds right to me because it rings of the preamble to the Constitution.
For the final two words, I went with "free expression." This was a tricky one, but this is a phrase that has really stuck in my head over the past year. I think we need an aspect of the pitch that explains how people should be allowed to be whatever they want to be, and do whatever they want with themselves. At the beating heart of progressivism / liberalism is the belief in a pluralistic society, and the rejection of the so-called "culture war." When I want to describe this belief from my gut, the term "free expression" is what consistently comes to mind.
So, what do you think? I'd like to know. I would also like to hear your ten-word elevator pitch. The only way we are going to figure this out is to keep talking about it, and to eventually settle on language that, from deep in our hearts, minds and guts, just really makes sense to us.