We Must Define Words So They Don’t Define Us

This article was originally published and formatted for Medium.

The more I engage with those who don’t share my views, the more I realize how seldom we actually communicate. We’re much better at talking at one another than we are at talking to one another. Even with the best of intentions, I’ve noticed what’s being said is all too often misunderstood or misinterpreted. I think this happens, in large part, because we assume the words we use will be heard and understood with the same intent and meaning with which they are expressed. This is a mistake.

Language is a blunt tool for expressing complex thoughts and ideas. Keep that in mind the next time you venture to talk religion or politics over Thanksgiving dinner.

Words matter, but the way we define them and use them matters just as much, if not more so. This is especially true when we use words that have become so politically charged their mere utterance provokes a visceral, emotional reaction. If we continue to ignore the fact that language is nuanced and words often mean different things to different people — especially those “across the aisle” — we have no hope of ever understanding one another.

Before I dig in, a quick story:

A dear friend of mine, a photographer I’ve been working with for years (he’s one of the best), is basically a communist. I am grateful he does not have too many communist friends or we might have problems. But I digress… I once asked this friend to review a speech I’d written, to help me understand how those words would be understood by people “like him” (I’m always focused on my large communist following). He read it — the speech I gave at Restoring Love, which I thought was pretty good — and all he said was, “You never said the word ‘love.’”

“The whole speech is about love,” I said.

“But you don’t use the word ‘love.’ You need to,” he replied.

He was right…

Words matter.

I have to get better at defining the language I use and hearing the point someone else is making, despite using terms that I may inherently and unknowingly define differently.

So, as I start to engage on Medium, I think it could be helpful to define some of the terms I often use to describe the ideological spectrum of American politics. These are words we all use, but I’m guessing we don’t fully comprehend what they mean to one another. To be clear, I don’t think of myself as some kind of authority — Noah Webster I am not… But in hopes of having a productive conversation, I thought I’d explain the way I use and define them.

Anyone who watches, reads or listens to what I say will be familiar with my take. But Medium is an entirely new community for me. I’m guessing we don’t know each other very well, which is one of the main reasons I decided to create an account — to reach out to and engage those who would probably never seek me out on their own.

A ‘liberal’ — what does the word mean?

To me, a liberal, is a person who is primarily motivated by a concern for the rights of certain vulnerable groups, and looks to government action — typically federal, but also state — to liberate or defend those groups against oppression by society’s rich and powerful. A liberal is also concerned with fairness and believes society should strive to achieve equality for all in opportunity, if not circumstance. A liberal believes it is the government’s duty to defend our civil rights and individual liberties and to safeguard its citizens from societal ills like poverty and discrimination.

When described as such, it is easy to have a positive response. As someone who identifies as a constitutional conservative and libertarian, I cringe at the government’s accumulation of power and authority and believe, at the end of the day, “We the People” have a greater likelihood of achieving this form of liberalism than through a bloated bureaucracy. But setting aside my views on “how” it should be achieved, it’s hard to argue with the goals.

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Of course it’s important for society to combat societal ills, safeguard liberties, protect individual rights and strive to create equal opportunities for all. I realize some people think I’m a monster, but come on — who can be against this?

Limiting the definition of liberal to the bolded print above shows just how much common ground we have to stand on. We all have the same goal: Progress. We just have radically different ways of getting there.

What is a constitutional conservative?

A constitutional conservative (CC) views the U.S. Constitution as an inspired document. The CC believes the Constitution appropriately defines the role of government and the scope of its power — limited (especially federal).

The CC is motivated by a concern for individual rights and liberties and a disdain for oppression — especially oppression at the hands of government. This puts the CCs at odds with their liberal neighbors, who often see government power not as something to fear, but rather as a helpful tool to affect societal change. The CC is also concerned with fairness. Yes, society should strive to create an equal playing field. You should reap what you sow. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Obviously, there are divergences between liberals and CC. That’s okay. I can be neighbors, friends, colleagues — you name it — with a liberal. And for those who know me personally and not the caricature I’ve been turned into, they know they could be the same to me, too.

A liberal and a conservative who strive for the same end but simply disagree on the means can eventually find shared causes and goals to achieve common ground.

But there is a different word that mucks it all up…

Progressivism.

Recently — and I mean very recently (not the Woodrow Wilson era) — liberals, seeing a need to update their choice of words, began adding the word “progressive” to their vocabulary. Progressivism used to be defined as a more aggressive form of liberalism — in essence, Marxism. Liberals made a conscious effort to rebrand themselves as progressives for the express purpose of marketing. (Which, by the way, was very smart. We on the right need to figure out new words that carry less baggage as well.)

The word liberal, to me, does not mean anything anymore — and frankly, neither does conservatism. (At times, I describe myself as an adherent to classical liberalism as defined and lived by people like John Locke and Adam Smith.)

This is where progressivism comes in. I do not believe liberals have cornered the market on progressivism.

In a speech I gave at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I felt compelled to call out the progressives in the GOP. My speech went over so well they refused to invite me back again until this past year — and that only happened after a change in leadership. I did not make many friends that day in 2010.

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WATCH: Glenn Beck Calls Progressivism 'the Cancer in America'

Progressivism has power in both parties and both ideologies.

A progressive Republican is basically the same as a progressive liberal (defined above). But instead of relying on government to accomplish liberal ideals, it uses government power to impose conservative principles.

When a progressive Republican — say Utah Senator Todd Weiler — tries to mandate the installation of porn blockers on all mobile phones in his state, this is progressivism.

When a progressive liberal — say President Obama — pressures schools to give transgender students access to whatever bathroom they please, this is progressivism, too.

Please note, I am not arguing whether porn blocker use or transgender bathroom choice is good or bad — we will disagree on one of these or possibly both. Rather, I’m arguing that when government is used as a top-down force by either party, the result will be a divided populace.

You and I, you and your friend, you and your mother-in-law can disagree and still love one another. But when the government forces what it wants upon us, it results in only one thing: A fractured citizenry, where the side that does not support the government’s use of power is labeled hateful, evil, stupid, etc.

Progressivism, regardless of the party, is when government enforces its ideology on the American people.

You may argue that the ends justify the means — but I advocate caution here. If the ends justify the means, when the other party is in power, the pendulum will swing and you will be just as pissed as the other party was previously. And pendulums don’t slow down when they are being abused. They swing harder and farther.

I feel it happening, do you?

My point is not to condemn either party or ideology per se. My point is to first define our words to ensure when we speak, we understand each others’ definitions. We can disagree on the definitions, but at least we will know we are debating the definitions and not the principles.

But more than that — we, as an America divided, have a chance at living together in (relative) peace and harmony if we remove the progressive aspects of our ideology. If we are aware of government-imposed power — which changes based on which party holds each branch of government — and focus on living our own lives without trying to impose our ideology on others, we can once again become a united country.

I am not describing utopia. We will never be a country without differences, but we can be a country that we feel — for the most part — is one people.

One day, it is my dream we will become who we were meant to be — a dysfunctional family that loves one another and accepts one another for who each of us are, as individuals.

Featured Image: Original cartoon created by Pat Cross Cartoons for glennbeck.com. Pat Cross loves drawing, America and the Big Man upstairs.

When Bevan Cooney — the former "junior" business partner to Hunter Biden and Devon Archer — went to jail in 2019, investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer thought he'd never gain access to the damning emails Cooney had promised. That all changed three weeks ago when Schweizer was given complete access to Cooney's gmail account.

Schweizer joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to describe just some of the business deals revealed within these emails — like Hunter working with an alleged Russian criminal and with Chinese communists to secure their assets, or to secure one-on-one time with his dad, then-Vice President Joe Biden. And all of this new information is completely separate from the emails allegedly discovered on Hunter Biden's laptop recently reported by the New York Post.

"So, I want to make this clear. This [Cooney's emails] has nothing to do with what's on the laptop … It didn't come from [Rudy] Giuliani. It didn't come from anybody else, right?" Glenn asked Schweizer.

"That's absolutely correct," Schweizer confirmed.

He briefly explained how Cooney, a former Los Angeles nightclub owner, is currently serving a prison sentence for his involvement in a fraudulent business bond scheme with Biden and Archer. From prison, Cooney gave Schweizer written permission to access his Gmail account.

"This is really important," he noted. "We're not looking at printouts. Not looking at PDFs. We're actually in his Gmail accounts themselves, sifting through these emails. And there's a shocking amount of information about deals involving China, involving Russia, involving all sorts of things they were trying to pull off."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

The king of "No Spin" and bestselling author of "Killing Crazy Horse," Bill O'Reilly joined Glenn Beck on this week's podcast to talk about the latest developments in Joe Biden's Ukraine and China corruption scandal. Now that some of the details are finally coming out in the open, does the average Democrat care? Maybe, but the Left doesn't seem to.

O'Reilly argued there's more hatred for President Donald Trump now than in 2016, and that some people hate President Trump so much that they'd rather vote for the "senile, corrupt" Joe Biden.

"Hunter got tens of millions of dollars from Ukraine, from Russia, from China because his father was vice president. I have no doubt in my mind," O'Reilly said. "But the hatred for Donald Trump overrides that in the minds of millions of viewers. They're saying, 'You know, we'd rather have the senile corrupt guy than Trump.'"

Asked by Glenn if any other Republican running for president would be met with the same level of vitriol, O'Reilly answered, "The Left is the Left. They don't like America. The want to redo the Constitution. They want to take some of our freedoms, like the Second Amendment and the First Amendment, and change them. And they want to destroy capitalism and replace it with a big centralized government in Washington that controls the economy … but I'm talking about the folks. I have liberal friends and I say to them, 'Do you not understand that when you vote for Biden, you're voting against your own self interest?'"

Watch the video clip from the full podcast below, or find the full episode HERE:

Want to listen to more Glenn Beck podcasts?

Subscribe to Glenn Beck's channel on YouTube for FREE access to more of his masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, or subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

In a phone call with his constituents, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb) unleashed a torrent of criticisms about President Donald Trump, saying he "flirted with white supremacists," "kisses dictators' butts," and "spends like a drunken sailor."

On the radio program Friday, Glenn said he was disappointed in Sen. Sasse for apparently forgetting all of President Trump's accomplishments. Because, in reality, Trump has accomplished a lot more than many presidents before him.

Then, for anyone who may have forgotten President Trump's achievements — or who simply hate the man so much they've ignored them — Glenn listed just some of the many things this president has achieved during his three and a half years in the White House.

Watch the video below to hear Glenn's message for all the Trump-haters who have forgotten Trump's accomplishments, or you can read Glenn's list HERE:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

President Trump has given us great judges on the lower court, 3 judges far superior than Roberts and other bogus constitutionalists as SCOTUS and one just may turn out to be another Clarence Thomas. He kicked the ass of ISIS and came home.

He got us out of the disastrous Iran deal, killed their head of terror, boxed them in and is currently collapsing their economy while also brokering a Mid East peace deal that everyone said could never happen. He moved our embassy to Jerusalem despite the state department, something no president has done even though they all promised.

Yes, he met with the North Korean Dictator. I hated that, but I also hated the fact that no other president did anything and North Korea kept gaining power. He has gotten Europe to pay their share of NATO, brought the Arabs and the Jews together, while smashing the choke hold of the PLO, and stood up to the Chinese instead of selling them supercomputers (Clinton), accepting lead poison in dog food (Bush), or loving the CCP and taking millions in dirty money (Obama/Biden).

He also has defended religious liberty unlike any other president at least in the last 100 years, and is a true pro-life advocate that unlike most republicans backs it up with action instead of just talk.

President Trump has also opened doors that the GOP was too wussy to even try to open with Hispanics and Blacks. He again didn't pander. He instead cleared the dead wood and opened pathways up so they could get higher education, create jobs, and not get lost in the prison system.

He also has defended religious liberty... and is a true pro-life advocate.

President Trump also took on an economy that had been beaten down, a people who had been told "you didn't build that" and, in fact, Obama and Biden claimed that the economy was "as good as it would ever get," that we would never create jobs in sectors ever again.

President Trump gave us the lowest unemployment rate since 1969 (the year I celebrated my 5th birthday,) the lowest unemployment for Hispanics & Blacks ever, and the first real growth in pay that I can remember.

President Trump then responded to the largest pandemic in 100 years by doing a couple of things I have never seen a president do:

  1. America's biggest capitalist shuts down the entire economy and knowingly puts his re-election at risk in order to save people.
  2. Closes travel with China and Europe, only to be called “racist," "xenophobic" and accused of stirring hatred. Now everyone says they were for it, but he stood alone and took the heat.

When everyone bashed him because they thought he would seize control and become an authoritarian by telling states what to do, or taking control of companies and telling them what to produce, he simply asked the free market to step to the plate, because he trusts the people of this country to do the right thing. By not taking control, he was called a dictator and a Nazi. Meanwhile he has been blamed for the blood bath created by Gov. Cuomo's nursing home policies. They said 2 million would die, best case scenario 200,000 — if we did everything right. Gee, seems that we are now in the time period they told us would be phase two, it seems as though we seem to have hit that "best case scenario" at this point.

While all of this has gone on, President Trump has fought the lies that were started by Hillary Clinton's team to smear him as a Russian operative. It was enabled by the Obama White House and included the DOJ, CIA, Dept of State, FBI, and DNI. Did I leave anyone out? Oh, yeah we are now getting evidence that members of the Pentagon may have been involved as well. Not to mention the so-called "press" and Congress who did things that would embarrass not only "Frank Underwood" but also Kevin Spacey. He has single handedly exposed the press for who they are and have always been. Because of his tweets, personal style and frankly balls of steel, he has exposed those who truly are: "Enemies of the people." I hated that when he first said it, but it is true. Any person or group that knowingly lies to destroy our president, our Constitution and the free market, are not just enemies of the people, they are enemies of the freedom of all mankind.

As someone who didn't support President Trump at first (and that is putting it mildly) I remain honest enough to judge him on his entire record. He is perhaps the only man in America that can and has stood entirely alone, surrounded by enemies, surrounded by those who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, who are now actively engaged in destroying it and any elected president who stands in their way.

Personally, I have grown sick and tired of spineless, do nothing, old, corrupt GOP politicians who are either part of the problem or too frightened to stand alone and speak up. The vast majority are all "Sunshine Patriots." History will condemn those who did nothing but complain and whine, while others not only rang the bell, but stood and took the hits, who risked it all and lost money, reputation and perhaps, God forbid, some who gave the ultimate sacrifice to fight the evil that rages so clearly against the light.

100 years from now history will judge all of us. So will our children's children. Most will be forgotten. Those who failed to show up on the battlefield or cower in the trees, will be remembered with shame and disdain. Others like President Trump, I believe will be seen as indispensable.