Forward into the Past: The Regression of Progressive Democrats

Ronald Reagan — aided unintentionally but repeatedly by Jimmy Carter — so stigmatized the word "liberal" that Democrats in the 1980s sought a substitute.  I heard them begin to settle on "progressive" early in the decade, when famed economist, diplomat, and party stalwart John Kenneth Galbraith spoke to the House Democratic Press Secretaries Association, to which I then belonged.  Whenever the "l" word was called for, Galbraith arched his formidable eyebrows and said "progressive." The "p" word eventually took hold.  Now often invoked approvingly though typically without definition by The Washington Post among many others, "progressive" has become a god-word for Democrats, perhaps nowhere so blatantly, even in unconscious self-parody, as in the party's June 11 Fairfax County, Virginia primary. Fairfax, one of Washington, D.C.'s most populous, prosperous...(Read Full Article)
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