When Did “Radical” Become a Dirty Word?

I get lots of email from lots of outfits of all ideologies. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of email from “progressive” groups, and pretty much every message takes the same line as this one from The Center for American Progress:

We saw many progressive victories in 2012. But we’re still facing down a radical, conservative ideology …

Yeah, conservatism as “radical” is a howler, but what I find more interesting is the degree to which “progressives” have given up a term they once proudly applied to themselves, turning it into a pejorative.

Rhetorically — and in my opinion more than rhetorically — that positions progressivism itself as a form of conservatism dedicated not to “progress” of any sort, but merely to preservation and extension of the New Deal/Great Society status quo and limitless state power at all costs.

Which, of course, is exactly what progressivism has been all about for a good half-century. But it’s startling to see progressives themselves so openly and readily admit that.

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