Right Needs to Take-Back Progressive Narrative


By:Justin P. Goodrich, LL.M


June 1st, 2018

I’m not sure when it happened, though it seems to have happened rather recently.  Every time I turn-on the news or load-up a social media app I hear about the ‘progressive’ left.

In a previous edition of For the Record I talked about the notion that those who are right-of-centre allegedly lack a social conscious.  That we are all focused on making money and could care less about the implications of environmental mis-management or those struggling to put a roof over their head.  In fact, more and more the left seems to have less reservation than ever before with regard to demonizing the right.

Of course, as is the case anytime you are dealing with issues that fall on a spectrum, you will have extremes.  On the far left, you have “the modern-day socialist who takes an Uber to the Starbucks where they post on social media from an iPhone to complain about capitalism” (a statement I’ve borrowed from a recent online posting I came across).  On the far right you have the faux-Christian who, in the name of ‘God’ spouts hate rhetoric with respect to those whose sexual identity is something other than heterosexual, while focusing on damnation instead of love.  Suffice it to say, while I have no interest in discussing the extremes as they inevitably fail to represent the majority on either side, they do, however, become part of the narrative used by those attempting to diminish others.

So, what does it mean to be ‘progressive’?

According to Dictionary.com, to be progressive means “favouring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters.”  Based on that definition, and in accordance with my personal values and my political ideologies, I consider myself a ‘progressive’ conservative.

Now before I go any further, let me remind you that the title of this edition is “Right Needs to Take-Back Progressive Narrative.”  To that end, let me further remind you that the term progressive has always ‘belonged’ to the right.  It has been used by political parties across the world to denote conservative political principles coupled with progressive social values.

Based on the above, this is why I consider myself a progressive conservative.  On the one-hand I believe strongly in free enterprise, small government, and a strong national defense. On the other-hand, I believe in group rights, consider myself environmentally friendly and have dedicated my entire adult life to social justice.

Therefore, based on definition of what it means to be progressive, I am exactly that (one might also describe me as a moderate or a centrist).  However, more and more those on the left regularly diminish my progressive values based solely on my party membership; painting me with the same brush as the small percentage of members who make-up the extreme right.

For The Record…

As regular readers know, I am currently seeking an NPA Council Nomination here in Vancouver.  As part of this process I often make comments via social media in which I refer to my progressive values and those of the vast majority of NPA members.

Recently, someone who follows me on social media replied to one of my comments with a singular word and a question mark in quotations – “progressive?” – and then attached a rather adolescent pic that stated “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

In response, I simply sent him the same definition I used at the beginning of this edition with a note “… maybe it just means you don’t know enough about us” followed by a link to my website.  I never heard anything back.

The thing is, this person – who doesn’t know me, has never met me, and has clearly not made any effort to get to know what I’m about – had seemingly no reservations about making a brash remark based solely on my political affiliation.  So, what’s my point?

If being progressive means “favouring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters”, then those of us on the right who are passionate about balancing economic prosperity and social responsibility must hold those on the left accountable for the manner in which they have hijacked the sentiments behind what it means to be progressive.

Finally, for those who are interested in making their communities better, let’s stop with all the cheap-shots on social media and do what grown-ups do… ask thoughtful questions, listen to the answers, and then engage in genuine discussion instead of political rhetoric.  In the meantime, for all those on the ‘right’ of the ideological spectrum I encourage you not to allow the left to bastardize our values by manipulating a word that, for many, is at the foundation of our values.

Justin P. Goodrich is the Managing Partner at Alliance Public Affairs Group (www.alliancepag.ca).

Previous editions of For The Record can be found online at: www.patrika.ca/for-the-record.

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