The Carl Sciortino campaign has been praised for its fun ad featuring the Democratic candidate for Congress and his Tea Party dad. But it’s time to call out Representative Sciortino for his unapologetic use of a dirty word in the ad. Yes, he said he’s a liberal. What’s worse, he said he’s a “Massachusetts liberal.”
Liberal is a dirty word. Ronald Reagan decreed it as such thirty years ago and Democrats have been running from the word since. Not to mention liberal Republicans, who are either extinct or have moved into the Independent ranks or over to the Democratic Party. Massachusetts presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and John Kerry were derided by GHW and GW Bush as Massachusetts liberals.
The preferred term for the left-leaning since Reagan has been “progressive.” I think the shift has been more than a mere rebranding. Progressive Democrats have moved from a predominant concern with the materialist concerns of working men and women to a party pre-occupied with the post-materialist concerns – abortion, gay rights – of its affluent campaign finance giver base in the professions and technology. They haven’t abandoned materialist concerns but economic issues have often taken a back seat on the Progressive bus.
So in a neat introduction the openly gay Sciortino, who is as progressive as any of his Democratic counterparts, eschews the shiny progressive label to “come out” as a liberal. Sure Ted Kennedy was the “last liberal lion” but that was more for his economic liberalism than his social issue progressivism. When you think liberal, you think Tip O’Neill or Joe Moakley.
So what’s the first issue raised by the lefty-righty father-son tag team? “Taking on the big banks and corporations” –populist economics. Then abortion with the buffer zone law. And then, and this really riles dad, Sciortino wants to go to DC to take on the NRA and Tea Party. Back to women’s issues and equal rights for everyone. Sciortino’s concerns are heavy on issues that play with the progressive base of Democratic primary voters but first he establishes himself as a liberal and goes right to economics.
I doubt I’m the only one who watches dad and can just hear Edith Bunker in the background, “Ohhhh Archie.” But don’t forget, Archie was a union member who felt screwed by a world that was passing him by. That includes an economy that was leaving guys like Archie behind. Or today an economy and a banking plutocracy that is leaving the rest of us behind.
It may be safe to be a liberal again.