Activist

A term that many conservatives use pejoratively to denote leaders of movements for liberal causes and judges whose rulings tend to favor liberal positions (as in judicial activist). Conservatives generally see these activist judges as running afoul of the original intent and wording of the Constitution.

Curiously, both conservatives and progressives use the term to refer favorably to activists on their own side of the spectrum. For instance, the conservative group Americans for Constitutional Liberty honors dozens of people each year with its Activist of the Year award. 

QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:

-Why do you think the word “activist” has become seen by many as a word with negative connotations?

-Is “activist” generally a good or bad word for you? What about other people you know?  

-If it’s true that people feel differently depending on the kind of activist involved, what kind of activists do you see favorably vs. unfavorably?  (e.g., “liberal activists”? “conservative activists” “gay activists” “ traditional family activists” “pro-choice activists” “pro-life activists”?)

-Does your judgment of activist vary at all depending on tactics and approach a particular group takes (independent of the issue)?   

Conversation Catalysts: 

Activism page, Americans for Constitutional Liberty.

Peter Dreier, “50 Young Progressive Activists Who Are Changing America,” Huffington  Post, December 2, 2012.

Progressive Activists Voice.

Contributors: 

John Backman

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