Who’s a progressive? And what’s a sticky wicket? Ask 100 Americans those questions, and you’ll get 100 different answers for progressive and 99 “What the hell’s a sticky wicket?” for the sticky wicket. (One person you asked spent time in England. He knew.) OK, I didn’t run a test. But I doubt if there is any agreement on who exactly qualifies to be called a progressive. Nobody wants to be called a regressive. Everyone loves progress.
What brings this up is this headline in The Boston Globe business section, Oct. 5, 2017: “For progressives, Trump tax plan is a sticky wicket.” The “quick study” article explains that part of the plan would eliminate the current law under which families can deduct from income all money paid for state and local taxes. This would hurt big-income people, who have big deductions for big taxes on big homes. Thus, “progressives” are in a “tricky spot,” the analysis says. It would hurt middle-income taxpayers, too.
So who is a progressive? Merriam-Webster defines it as someone “favoring gradual political change and social improvement by action of the government.” Urbandictionary.com has a very long definition, which liberals, ultra-leftists, plain old leftists, and Democrats in general might not find amusing. America did have Progressive Parties, which ran Teddy Roosevelt for president in 1912, Robert La Follette in 1924, and Henry Wallace in 1948. No national Progressive Party is left, although there are some local ones. But according to the media, there are a helluva lot of progressives around.
And the sticky wicket? Here’s Merriam-Webster: “a difficult or delicate problem or situation.” The origin? Here’s Dictionary.com: “Cricket. The area of ground around a wicket when it is tacky because of recent rain and therefore does not allow the ball to bounce well.”
File under: BBC English lessons via NPR and PBS.
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