Progressive policies with conservative rhetoric?

I wonder whether it would be possible to advance a progressive policy agenda that was cloaked in conservative rhetoric.

For example, it is currently legal for police to use unlimited force to produce compliance with their orders, even illegal orders. Essentially, you are forced to stop going about your business, comply with whatever the police tell you to do, allow them to search you and whatever you’re carrying, tolerate an indefinite delay, even let them take you to the police station if they chose, all without offering any sort of resistance.

Any questioning of their actions or inquiry into its lawful basis can be interpreted as “resistance,” and any degree of resistance, no matter how minimal, is considered legal justification for the police to beat you up, taser you, pepper-spray you, or even shoot and kill you—and they will suffer no consequence beyond (perhaps) a brief period of paid leave.

People of color have borne the brunt of these sorts of police actions for a long time. With the advent of ubiquitous cameras we have now seen many people of color murdered while offering up either no resistance at all, or such minimal resistance that it should shock the conscience to see lethal force used. We have also seen many white people granted great deference by police under circumstances where a black person would have been killed.

This is the circumstance that led to the “black lives matter” slogan.

Many people—especially, I suspect, many Trump voters—object to this slogan, preferring to suggest that “all lives matter.”

Many liberals and leftists look to a willingness to say “black lives matter” as a marker that you’re on the right side of this issue.

My question is, could a political candidate who was on the right side of this issue (and many other issues, such as using the threat of jail to balance town budgets on the backs of indigent people) couch his objections in terms that would not offend Trump voters, while still pushing for good policies? And would such a politician be able to get support from both sides of the political divide?

For example, I’d like to see a policy that said that resistance to an unlawful order from a police officer was legal and that any force used by the officer to produce compliance was an illegal assault—the officer should be prosecuted. I’d like to see a policy that any monies extracted from an indigent person under threat of jail be considered the proceeds of an illegal extortion scheme—everyone involved in the extortion should be prosecuted, the money returned, and the original fine forgiven.

If a politician were to propose such ideas, but describe them with terms like “all lives matter,” or “protecting liberty and private property rights,” could such a politician draw support from both sides?

I’m doubtful. But I’d like to see it.

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1 thought on “Progressive policies with conservative rhetoric?”

  1. A very good idea. As you say, however, it is unlikely, but its improbability doesn’t mean we should give up on it. Change comes, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Even though the problem may seem an insurmountable task, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So, let’s at least nibble.

    Though I mostly agree with you, I have a slightly different perspective on the slogan “Black Lives Matter” and its appropriate use. Sure, Black lives matter, but those lives matter no more than nor less than the lives of any other folks. I understand the belief that some folks feel the need to foreground that, but I also believe that they are wrong.

    I am a mostly European American, that is, most of my ancestors (for the past few hundred years) came to America from Europe, specifically from Ireland, Scotland, England, Denmark, The Netherlands, or Germany, or they were descendants of folks who came from those countries. (We shall ignore the tiny amount of Native American/First Nations DNA I carry.) I am also a democratic socialist much like my hero Bernie Sanders. So I have both “White” and “Leftist” tendencies. No, that’s not right. I am White and Leftist, no tendencies about it.

    Even so, I am offended by other White and Leftist people who repeat “Black Lives Matter” in chorus with Black folks just because they want to prove in some pathetic little way that they are in solidarity with Black folks, that they care. They may well be in solidarity, may well care, but people who have to raise their hands and shout, “I am sensitive to the issues that Black folks have!” probably aren’t as much so as they think they are. They may be well-intentioned, but they are sloppy in their thinking and acting. They are seeking simply to assuage their own consciences, seeking to plug the hole in their social dykes caused by Liberal White Guilt. It is one thing to think and act in a way that recognizes the humanity of anyone, and another to raise one’s hand or voice to draw attention to oneself doing so.

    I say, “All Lives Matter” without any sense of privilege or guilt, without any apologies, and I doubt that I shall ever say, “Black Lives Matter.” All lives matter. Let’s work for a society, a country, a world where the humanity of every single person is celebrated and defended.

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