Merriam-Webster has a very lengthy defintion of the word radical as an adjective and another as a noun. The definitions most applicable in the political sense follow.
radical, adjective - 3. a: Marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional b: tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions c: of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change d: advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs.
raidcal, noun - 3. One who is radical.
Let's start with a. Do I depart considerably from the usual or traditional? That's a complicated question. There are certainly American traditions for which I have a great deal of respect. The right to vote, the right of individuals to freely own property, free speech, a free and independent press, equality of all citizens under the law, separation of church and state, and representative republican government. On the other hand, I believe that the right of individual economic freedom is not the same as allowing powerful corporate entities to run amok with minimal consequences. A free and independent press is not a bloated media machine drunk on its own power to make or destroy public figures. Equality of all citizens under the law has to mean equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, religion, political views, sexual orientation, economic condition, or police record or the words are empty and the meaning of the word 'citizen' cannot be warped to mean what the government wishes it to mean. We are all citizens of the world. Separation of church and state should be real enough to prevent a religious faction from imposing its moral values on the legal process and persecuting those with different beliefs by forcing them to adhere to its religious law.
b: tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
Damn right. The United States (and the world for that matter) has serious issues that need to be dealt with directly and courageously and the existing views, habits, conditions, and institutions are not able to do so. The most obvious culprit is the Republican Party with its muscular attempt to turn the American political clock back to the late 1940s and early 1950s so we can once again enjoy a Golden Age of moral American culture and global American supremacy that really only ever existed in their minds. In the process, they would disenfranchise all who oppose them to whatever degree they can manage. The religious right is a big part of the current power bloc of the Republican Party and obviously their weight with many Christians is a great source of Republican political power. However, the Democratic Party has to share the blame at least equally. While Republicans are unable or unwilling to prevent rational solutions to America's problems, and in many cases unable even to admit those problems exist, Democrats cling desperately to their own supposedly glorious past instead of seeking to find this generation's New Deal, New Frontier, or Great Society. We need new thinking, ideas, and programs of our own, and they needs to be genuinely new. We need to examine our current thinking, ideas, and programs and abandon what has failed, improve what could be more successful, and keep what works. We need to accept that other nations have made more progress in solving some problems than we ourselves have and use what we can gain from their successes while learning what we can from their failures.
c: of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change
I wish. At the moment, no such viable political group exists. I am a registered Democrat, but I recognize the deep flaws in the Democratic Party. I was once a registered Republican, but left because I found their evolving philosophy of Christian supremacy, corporate exploitation and trampling of the very 'individual rights' they claim to support over 'group rights', and neoconservative global ambition disconcerting to say the least. At the same time, America's two party system is so entrenched that there may not be a way create such a political group unless one of the two major political parties genuinely recognizes the need for extreme change and seriously embraces the concept of working to reach the American ideal rather than clinging to its illusion in one form or another.
d: advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs.
Clearly not. That's the whole point. We need serious changes in the political state of affairs.
I fit two and a half of the subsets of this definition, then. Fitting those criteria I also meet with the definition of 'radical' as a noun: one who is radical.
Perhaps, if you take a good look at our country and the world, you'll find you are far more radical than you ever believed you could be.
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