February 28, 2017

[AD One Year Ago Today:] Bigger Tents: On Rebranding "CONSERVATIVE" and "REPUBLICAN" with "AMERICAN"


An American, one of the roughs, a kosmos,... No sentimentalist .... no stander above men and women or apart from them...
-- Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855)

“I am not an American, I am THE American.”
-– Mark Twain

Remember when Hillary Clinton, during her last attempt to rule the world, stopped calling herself a “liberal” and rebranded herself as a “progressive?”

I do.

It was Clinton's desperate attempt to crawl out from under the vast heap of crap she and all the other “liberals” had piled on themselves -– notably during her own husband's administration. And who, when trying to run, wanted to have that old "liberal" ball and chain around her thick ankles? Not Hillary.

By 2007 “Liberal” had become so drenched in sewage liberals could only clean it through “rebranding.”

The new/old brand name chosen was 'progressive.'

And it worked for them -- and for Obama -- just long enough to get them elected the first time by a credulous public who had seemingly never heard "progressive" before.

“Progressive...” it sounded so, well, hopeful. It was, after all, not "trans-" but "pro-"gressive.

After all, who can be against “progress?” Who is not pro "pro?"

Who, that is, except the vast majority of older Americans who had seen the wreckage that the progressives' “progress” had wrought wherever it touched down on the American landscape.

Still, the recloaking of ye olde “liberal” wolves inside of the “Progressive Sheeps' Clothing” worked well enough with the young and stupid as well as the old and malicious.

"Progressive" caught on because it junked “liberal” but didn't say “socialist.” At least not in so many syllables.

That was then. Now, of course, “progressive” as a brand has become synonymous with cheats, control-addicts, the walking brain-dead, lying Social Justice Warriors, and the power junkies that want to tell you all about the bad McDonalds Happy Meals in condom chewing San Francisco.

Today "Progressive" is as dead as Hitler's charred corpse smoldering in a ditch outside the bunker on Pennsylvania Avenue. But “progressives” don't know they're crispy critters because they can't entertain any ideas that weren't minted in ye olde Soviet Union. So let's let them keep it.

Let those bitter aging boomers cling to their Darwins and their "progressive" programs and labels. Progressives, after all, are the queens of worthless labels.

What we need to do is a little “rebranding” of our own in order to blunt the brain-dead attacks that keep coming from the attack poodles of the left. Attacks that when examined are all aimed at the label “Conservative” or “Republican.”

"Conservative." "Liberals." These two categories are not the same. Not all “Conservatives” are “Republicans,” and – unfortunately for the life expectancy of the Republican party – not all “Republicans” are “Conservative.”

Let's dump both brands.

I don't know about you, but I do not consider myself either a “Conservative” or a “Republican.” Never have. I consider myself to be one thing and one thing only:



Always have been.

Always will be.

Nothing less.

Couldn't be anything more.

To call me a Conservative is to miss the point.

To call me a Republican is to mistake me by a mile.

To call me an AMERICAN is to know me down to the bone. I suspect this blunt fact is true of all those who term themselves “Independents,” all those who call themselves “Conservative,” all those who joined the Tea Party, they and all the others who,

Came from the hills and mountains, 

The valleys and the plains
Some were kind and gentle, 

And some too wild to tame.

That's who we are and that's who we shall always remain -- Americans.

A single, obvious, and overarching word to cover a wide, wide tent:


Americans all regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin.

Let's rebrand ourselves from this point forward:

When you are called a Conservative, you reply, “No, I am an AMERICAN.”

If someone tries to tar you with the label “Republican,” you must correct them by saying, “No, I am an AMERICAN.”

If they say you are arguing from Republican or Conservative views, point out to them that you are arguing from AMERICAN views only.

Do that consistently and we can all look forward to future disputes and elections that pit the “Progressives” against the AMERICANS. I know which way I'd bet.

It's a big country. If we call ourselves "AMERICANS" we're going to need a bigger tent.


Failing to fetch me me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop some where waiting for you

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass [1855]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at February 28, 2017 11:38 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

American. Yeah, I like that. Not even hyphenated.

As for the liberals, call 'em whatever you like. A shitbird by any other name is still a shitbird.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 28, 2014 8:25 AM

For several decades now, when asked on any form or on any phone/computer survey about my "race", I always answer "American". My family came here many generations ago. I am not a color.
I am an American.
My wife's family came in the second wave after the Mayflower.
When the woman came into the hospital room with a clipboard the day after our son was born, and began asking all of the birth certificate demographic questions (she prefaced everything by saying "Felicidades!", as all of the other families there spoke Spanish; I answered in English "Thank You", although I speak Spanish fluently), she got to "race" and asked in a "I'm pretty sure this is the correct answer" voice, "Caucasian?"...
I said "American".
She looked at me puzzled and didn't write anything, so I said "Put down that my son is American. We are Americans."
So she did.
I went through the exact same exercise when my daughter was born 19 months later.
We are Americans.

Posted by: Uncle Jefe at May 28, 2014 9:39 AM

As a supreme if unintended compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label.
The word "progressif" must have been suggested to a French writer by the Devil himself it is such bad French. What a face the illustrious dead, in whose society I live, would have made at it!
Many words embodied in our language are of such a character that one is led to conclusions not implied by any sober thought about the subject in question, words that carry misleading connotations of an earlier kind of community. Such words appeal to men to redesign what they never could have designed at all, or have acquired the power to empty the nouns they qualify of their meaning. As a weasel is alleged to be able to empty an egg without leaving a visible sign, so can these words deprive of content any term to which they are attached.
People were all the while fixed in the delusion that they were talking about the same things because they were using the same words. Opposite and violently hostile ideas were represented by the same word signs. This was the American people’s first experience with dialectic according to Marx and Lenin
The battle for the world is a battle for definitions.
There are some who only employ language for the purposes of disguising their thoughts.
The two ancient enemies of laissez faire were the state and the church. Laissez faire represented the principle of radicalism in both religion and economics. Radicalism was the sword of liberty. Neither the state nor the church has ever loved liberty. Now, what was conservative is radical, and laissez faire, which was radical, is reactionary. The wheel has gone all the way around.
There are fits of forgetfulness or deceit which terrify; you open your ears, you rub your eyes, not knowing whether you are awake or asleep. When the imperturbable individual to whom you owe such assertions descends from the rostrum and takes his seat impassively, you follow him with your gaze, suspended as you are, between a kind of astonishment and a sort of admiration; you are unsure whether the man has not received some authority from nature giving him the power to recreate or annihilate the truth.
From every page and every line, there speaks an endeavor to beguile and deceive the reader, first by producing an effect to dumbfound him, then by incomprehensible phrases and even sheer nonsense to stun and stupify him, and again by audacity of assertion to puzzle him, in short, to throw dust in his eyes and mystify him as much as possible.

Posted by: james wilson at May 28, 2014 10:21 AM

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place." George Bernard Shaw

Posted by: chasmatic at May 28, 2014 11:47 AM

I have been describing myself as an AMERICAN for just under five years now. Just recently have people started to understand the real meaning of my term AMERICAN.

I changed my voter registration form Independent to Republican for the primary elections here last week. I am going to journey to the Court House in
town and re-register as an Independent tomorrow.

I was a Democrat in college. I learned that was a mistake during Nam. I registered Republican until about ten years ago when I opted to become an Independent.

Both major parties are essentially fascist operations with very minor differences.

The once wonderful AMERICA as we all knew it is no longer. Just a vaporizing dream. I dearly loved her.

Posted by: Terry at May 28, 2014 12:24 PM

"I have fallen in love with American names,
The sharp names that never get fat,
The snakeskin titles of mining claims,
The plumed war-bonnet of Medicine Hat,
Tucson and Deadwood and Lost Mule Flat

"Seine and Piave are silver spoons,
But the spoonbowl metal is thin and worn,
There are English counties like hunting tunes
Played on the keys of a postboy's horn,
But I will remember where I was born.

"Rue des Martyrs and Bleeding-Heart Yard
Senlis, Pisa and Blindman's Oast.
It is a magic ghost you guard
But I am sick for a newer ghost,
Harrisburg, Spartanburg, Painted Post.

"I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse,
I shall not lie easy in Winchelsea.
You may bury my body in Sussex grass,
You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.
I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee."

--abbreviated version of "American Names" by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Posted by: LT at May 28, 2014 1:14 PM

"They broke every promise they made except one. They promised to take our land, and they did."
--- non-hyphenated noble native American chief.

And now the ghouls try to take our minds by distorting meanings of words. But all that's worthwhile is not lost, for Melville spoke truly,"Beware the people weeping, when they bare the iron hand."

Posted by: Howard Nelson at May 28, 2014 5:38 PM

I've always identified as Texan before all else.

The first of my line in north America got some land from the king of England for killing a bunch of indians though.

Posted by: BradnSA at May 29, 2014 12:22 AM

Neil Diamond: "America" -- "Home, to a new and a shiny place
Make our bed, and we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm
Freedom's light burning warm"

Posted by: AbigailAdams at May 29, 2014 3:32 AM

American..yeah, factory town born, bloodied on foreign shores, married a Midwest girl, worked as a carpenter, God bless America

Posted by: bill at May 29, 2014 8:51 PM

With God As My Witness, I Will Never Vote For Donald Trump.

I was asked, and quite reasonably, by a couple of correspondents, if I understood that not voting for Trump might result in the election of Hillary Clinton, or even worse Bernie Sanders, to the Presidency, and if I was satisfied with that result.

First, I understand that Hillary is a felon who is not fit for any office of honor or trust, public or private. I believe that she has committed crimes far worse than mishandling classified information. I think that it is beyond any doubt that Hillary and Bill sold the high office of Secretary of State for cash paid to Bill or to their "foundation", by foreigners desiring the approval of the State Department for transactions requiring its approval. The two of them should share a cell in a Federal Penitentiary for the rest of their natural lives.

Second, I abhor Hillary's leftist politics. She has always been more of a leftist ideologue than Bill, who was only concerned with money and sex. Bernie Sanders of course is an even more loathsome ideologue than Hillary.

I will never vote for Hillary or Bernie for President. No F$%&ing Way.


My reasons for being less concerned with either Hillary or Bernie than the Donald, is that I think that Trump is also a leftist, big government, crony capitalist liberal, and that he would be better positioned to push trough damaging initiatives, appointments, and bills than they would be.

If Trump is elected as a Republican, he will have the support of many Republican politicians, who, even as I am writing this, are running as fast as they can to get on the Trump Bus. Chris Christie, Paul LePage, and Jeff Sessions have all jumped on board. If Trump does well tomorrow, there will likely be a stampede. Most of these politicians have no commitment to conservative principles and are solely interested in hanging on to power and the perquisites of office.

Trump, being solely a wheeler dealer, and one who has publicly admired Nancy Pelosi and other Democrat politicians, and supported them morally, and with substantial contributions, will make deals with them for his legislative agenda. Like all deals with liberals, he will get small concessions for conservatives, but the liberals will get the big items on a long term basis.

Republicans, having already sold their souls, and being tied down with chains of party loyalty will be unable to effectively oppose Trump's deals.

If Hillary, or God forbid, Bernie is elected the House will remain Republican even if the Democrats regain control of the Senate. The Republicans on Capital Hill will thwart a Democrat President's agenda. In 2018, the Republicans will regain control of the Senate. There will be another election in 2020 without Donald's loathsome presence.

Both the Country and the Republican Party would be better off without the Donald as President.

Posted by: Fat Man at February 29, 2016 11:58 AM

There are times in history, when a change happens. I can remember the short period of time when public opinion shifted during the Vietnam war. It was subtle. It wasn't like people discussed it or badgered their neighbor about it. It just happened.

The old political system is done. Jerry Pournelle has a good article about how the consent of the governed has been revoked. People of both parties are angry. They see a know it all elite, willing to tell them how to live down to the slightest detail. They see their jobs gone or down to part time, which the rich prosper. They see that the rule of law is gone. And they have been lied to, by politician after politician. And they are not willing to put up with it any more.

What they see is a chance to turn things around, in the unlikely candidate of a well known businessman. He is a flawed candidate, but he doesn't talk down to the folks in flyover country. He has channeled their anger in a way that we haven't seen since Reagan. And the old labels are meaningless.

So by all means, tell us which of the establishment candidates you support. Go ahead and call Trump supporters names, as I have seen on many of the blogs I have been reading. This is a historical movement and frankly, we don't give a damn what you think. We've been lied to by the pros. We are going to see if it's possible to elect a regular American to the Presidency or if we are forever doomed to being governed by an elite group of Harvard lawyers. Some of us still believe this is our country.

Posted by: Teripittman at February 29, 2016 3:31 PM

My conclusion is that the American Experiment is a constant state of revolution. In my lifetime, I heard it described as the notion that we are never more than one generation away from tyranny.

President? We need a fighter and an angry man; he'd be best suited as a Washington, but I'd be satisfied with a Robespierre.

With blood in my eyes,


Posted by: Casey Klahn at February 29, 2016 3:44 PM

Where's that Jerry Pournelle article?

Posted by: Van der Leun at February 29, 2016 5:57 PM

Great advice, great essay, thanks Gerard.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at February 29, 2016 6:09 PM

Interesting that today I read MA voters have begun to flee the Democrat party by the thousands. It supports your essay big time.

Posted by: Casey Klahn at February 29, 2016 6:42 PM

I used to be an american, then I overcame my childhood programming. Now I'm just me. Life is better without all the unnecessary baggage.

Posted by: ghostsniper at February 29, 2016 6:46 PM

Sorry, work got in the way. But looks like you found the Pournelle article. Isn't it interesting how that Peggy Noonan article also struck a nerve?

Posted by: Teripittman at February 29, 2016 7:19 PM

Great American tunes G.

Posted by: foodog at February 29, 2016 10:19 PM

Every time I say to myself "I'll come back tomorrow and read the rest". I never do, but it's good getting some of the best comments & readings on the internet. thanks, Tony

Posted by: tonynoboloney at February 29, 2016 10:53 PM

Yup, thanks Teri.

Posted by: Van der Leun at March 1, 2016 9:27 AM

An old saw: What's the opposite of Progress?

Why, Congress, of course.


'Tis no joke that we have such dulcet choices to make, between a 'congenital liar' and, likely, a 'blowhard egocentric'... Hmmm, Codevilla says he's Obama of the "Right"(tho he did not use that word)
Emperor Trump. Nice ring to it, eh? Emperor.

Dunno if I can push the touch-screen for The Donald, but for sure cannot for HRC or Bernie. What do do...
If wishes were horses, we'd be Cruz-ing to DC. I think.

Posted by: tomw at March 1, 2016 10:32 AM

What defines 'what's in a name' or in a title?
It's what you do that defines what you are. And if you are a prisoner because your ideas opppse the Wrongs, then your resistance to coercion proves what you are.
American, Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Dunnowhat, ... are nouns demanding agreement on specific actions/contexts.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at March 1, 2017 4:09 AM

American is not a dispassionate noun, is it?

Grandpa earned it the hard way. Dad did, too. German immigrant and WW II combat veteran. Me? I fell off the shittruck and found myself smelling of roses in America.

No other nation has ever been conceived where the people have a bulwark against government, and it's on a piece of paper in Washington DC. At times, it feels like that rampart in World War Z where Brad Pitt and crew are watching the zombies pushing against it, and things begin to tip. It feels like you have your shoulder to the door to keep the progs out, and at times lately you've had to engage your feet or your hands to the task. Hard to get things done when your hands aren't free to work.

But, the alternative is like the Monty Python scenes of silly Inquisitors bursting through the door, or the "bring out yer dead" wagon rolling past.

In other words, the status quo of nations through all of history is power accrues to the highly placed, and it sucks to be you. Here, we have a chance to breath and work. It's the best place ever conceived. The reason you can't figure that out is that you're either ignorant of history, or aren't engaged enough to see above the fecal smear. In which case, you might be fooled into looking for a Utopia and wish to vote for Bernie. Best of luck with that.

Posted by: Casey Klahn at March 1, 2017 7:45 AM

Excellent essay -- so, I'm sorry to be a nit-picker over one or two possibly missing words:
Your sentence, with my question in bracketed caps:
"But 'progressives' don't know they're crispy critters because they can't entertain any ideas that were minted [IS SOMETHING MISSING HERE?] ye olde Soviet Union."

Posted by: Clayton in Mississippi at March 1, 2017 9:10 AM

When I hear or see the word "Progressive", I think CANCER.

Posted by: Sam L. at March 2, 2017 7:50 AM