What Do Progressives Consider Progress?

In a follow-up to my ‘What Are Conservatives Trying to Conserve?’ article I thought I would add some clarity to the other side of the argument.

Progressivism is the idea of affecting change or reform through governmental action. The general perception is that Progressivism is a far left concept; for example, the ‘liberal media’ is a term often bandied about to describe a misperceived liberal bias in news reporting. In reality, media tends to be in love with whatever sensationalist theme happens to be going around at the time. Media knows where its advertising bread is buttered. And they rarely bite the hand that feeds them. FOX is the exception. They pretend to be a ‘Fair and Balanced’ news organization but I think the bulk of the world acknowledges that they are the PR arm of the Republican Party. They distort, you abide.

Conservatism tends to take a more ‘leave us to our methods’ approach. Less government, less regulation; a more ‘everyone for themselves’ strategy. This has been bolstered historically through unbridled capitalism. And that is the American Dream, isn’t it? The émigré comes to the land of opportunity, creates a product or service and suddenly the wealth of avarice is at his (and until just recently, his) fingertips.

Here’s the problem with unbridled capitalism. The game is rigged. It’s like selling the farm and moving to Hollywood to become an actor. It’s a supply and demand issue. There are only going to be so many success stories. 99% of the rest will be failures. And most of those will be a result of the decisions of people who have already gamed the system. Unbridled capitalism also presumes that there will be an unending supply of consumers, which just isn’t the case. It isn’t sustainable. We just don’t have a planet big enough to support that philosophy. Conservative values will always be at the expense of someone else.

Progressivism is based on a ‘trickle up’ philosophy. A rising tide floats all boats, if you will. When the train comes in, everybody rides. Sorry to get carried away with the metaphors but it’s the easiest way to make my point. The flaw in conservative ‘trickle down’ Reaganomics presumes that if you reward the rich, jobs will follow. That didn’t actually happen this last time did it?

So, yes, progressivism takes on a decidedly ‘socialist’ bent. Do you have a problem with that word? The pundits of the McCarthy era used ‘communist’ as their bad word. Here is the definition off the web; “socialism is an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources”.

I ask you; how innocuous is that? One for all and all for one. All of the programs I highlighted in my article on what makes a progressive President were social programs. And Obama is continuing the tradition. He got as close to universal health care as any leader ever did. It cost him. It may cost him a second term but it was a heroic fight. AND it was necessary. Good leaders do what’s right for their people. Bombing Iraq was not one of those good things.

Conservatism is exclusory; progressivism is inclusive. I will never agree to live in a world that keeps people (usually non-white) out. We all inhabit this big ball of dirt together. Progressives can never be blamed for starting class warfare. Conservatives have waged that all on their own. We will defend against it, however.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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35 Responses to What Do Progressives Consider Progress?

  1. robert verdi says:

    This all make sense if you ignore the various calamities inflicted by national socialism, communism, left wing authoritarians such as Chavez or Peron, the bankrupting of nations such as England the nightmare states of egalitarianism in Zimbabwe and North Korea, the police state poverty of Castro, the fiscal and social debacle known as the West European social model which every other month teeters on collapse, and for good measure you must ignore the prosperity of the USA that really did lift more boats then any other nation in history.

  2. filistro says:

    Here is Lawrence O’Donnell last week, saying “We Are All Socialists Now.”

    The video is 7 minutes long, and worth watching right to the end.

    I’m glad to have an opportunity to post the link because every time I watch this, I think of shrinkers. He could have written this. It’s inspiring, true, and terrific.

  3. Mr. Universe says:

    Wow. That was pretty good. I haven’t watched Lawrence’s new show just because of time constraints but that was like listening to myself.

    I feel like saying, “I am Sparticus!”

  4. Not at all. Most of the examples you provided were much more authoritarian than they were socialist or communist. As for western Europe, the Scandanavian countries seem to do very well despite being among the most socialist in the world.

    As for the prosperity of the US, I explained that before. It’s easy to be prosperous when you’re the only nation with a functioning industrial infrastructure. That did far more for the nation than anything that happened before or since.

  5. filistro says:

    Canada is also more “socialist” than the US… it has that dreadful universal heath care, and a pertty dense social safety net, too… but Canada is really kind of booming.

    Certainly Canada is coming out of recession a lot more quickly. Unemployment which historically rides higher than the US has just dropped below 8%. The TSX, which has tracked the DOW for decades, is now about 15% higher, and the currencies are at par.

  6. Bart DePalma says:

    Mr. U:

    Did you miss any cliche in the progressive guidebook?

    Wealth neither trickles down nor raises all boats. You gain wealth either by obtaining marketable skills and working hard or by running a business which provides a good or service for which a consumer will pay.

    Like anything else, if you punish wealth creation, you get less off it. Conversely, if you reward sloth or failure, you get more of that. Free markets do not make these mistakes, only progressive governments do.

    The idea that free markets are unsustainable and progressivism/socialism/fascism/communism or any other ism is sustainable has been disproven so many times that one either must willfully ignorant or deluded to still believe these myths. Compare China and India while under socialism/communism with where they are today after freeing their economies. I sometimes think we are in bizarro world when the Chinese and Russians lecture the Land of the Free against driving into the ditch of socialism.

    And you wonder why I maintain that progressivism cannot be compromised with, but rather must be discredited and thrown on the ash heap of history with all the other isms.

  7. shiloh says:

    Bartles: Did you miss any cliche in the progressive guidebook?

    Bart, you never miss any cliché in the winger troll playbook …

    solo estoy diciendo

  8. Bart DePalma says:

    And you though my definition of socialism was expansive.

    Social insurance like Medicare is no more socialism than any other insurance policy. It neither directs the economy nor redistributes wealth. Medicare simply spreads the risk of illness and injury during old age across the entire population.

    O’Donnell is simply trying to play off his own recent admission that he is a socialist. O’Donnell does not believe in social insurance, he wants the government running health care.

  9. drfunguy says:

    Oh, including conservatism?
    You really know how to put your foot in it, eh?

  10. shiloh says:

    Bart, the correct definition of socialism can be found in any dictionary …

    take care

  11. fopplssiegeparty says:

    I can easily imagine the day when capitalism is the red headed stepchild of civilization. The process will begin in earnest when energy becomes extemely cheap (both economically and ecologically).

    Then, look out sociopathic business people!

  12. fopplssiegeparty says:

    *extremely*

  13. Mr. Universe says:

    Bart asked;

    Did you miss any cliche in the progressive guidebook?

    No, I think I got most of them.

    Listen, I don’t think capitalism and progressivism are mutually exclusive. I DO think that unbridled, unregulated capitalism is a recipe for disaster both economically and environmentally. I also don’t think China or Russia are good tests of socialism. I think they are thinly disguised forms of socialism masquerading as totalinarianism. The most imperfect example on the planet of workable socialism is France. Unfortunately, your side managed to paint them as cheese eating surrender monkeys during the first Stupid War; sorry, Gulf War.

    I also get that you think Democrats are totolitarian. Sorry, pal, that’s Democracy. You’re welcome to argue that it is a John Stuart Millsian ‘Tyranny of the Majority’ but that’s about all you get to do. You either participate in democracy like the rest of us or you better look more closely in the mirror. The totalitarians might not be as far away as you think.

  14. Mr. Universe says:

    BTW. In case you haven’t noticed, China and India are about to kick our collective economic asses. You care to explain that one away? Should be entertaining.

  15. drfunguy says:

    “..discredited and thrown on the ash heap of history with all the other isms”
    or perhaps capitalism?
    Not that I think it a goood idea, but when you make such idiotic banal generalizations in an attempt to seem more intelligent than you are… well we all see the outcome and it ain’t pretty.

  16. Mr. Universe says:

    BOOM!

  17. robert verdi says:

    Nordic countries were able to pour more into social-welfare programs because they were under the defense umbrella of the USA and Nato (yes in theory Sweden and Finland are were non-aligned but a communist push on them would have been answered). Additionally there is aggressive extraction of natural resources especially oil to put cash on the table, and finally although those nations have liberal immigration policies we here in the USA add far more to our nation legally and illegally then they could possibly fathom.

  18. Bart DePalma says:

    Speaking of what progressives consider progress, HHS has buried the fact that it granted 111 waivers from PPACA to its union supporters, big businesses like McD’s who have political connections and ironically a non profit who campaigned for PPACA.

    Progressivism is at its core corrupt.

  19. @robert verdi

    All of which goes to show that your argument against socialist policies was facile. It can’t be socialism that makes everything wrong in nations with serious problems, and yet everything but socialism that makes everything right in the nations without.

  20. drfunguy says:

    @BDP “Progressivism is at its core corrupt”
    So you will no doubt agree, by the same logic, that conservatism is at its core corrupt as demonstrated by the scandalous, illegal and dishonest activities of the Bush II, Reagan and Nixon administrations and various elected Republican politicians?
    Hmm?
    Somehow I doubt it.

  21. Bart DePalma says:

    Oh my, an honest progressive on the Sunday news programs. On Christiane Amanpour’s show, Paul Krugman criticized the debt commission for not endorsing the Obamacare “death panel” and said the solution for Medicare is a combination of “death panels” and a “VAT.”

    [All quotes are Krugman’s]

    The death panel to which Krugman refers is the one to which I have repeatedly referred since Obamacare was published – the Medicare panel tasked with determining whether Medicare coverage should be denied for cost ineffective treatments.

    Fili, now that a progressive eminence such as Paul Krugman refers to the Obamacare death panel as a death panel, I presume I can now use the term without upsetting you.

  22. dcpetterson says:

    @Bart
    HHS has buried the fact that it granted 111 waivers

    Let’s see if I understand this. When the law was being debated, some critics pointed out that the requirements of the law might be too onerous for some companies under certain conditions. So the drafters of the law listened to the Voice of the People and included provisions to waive some of the requirements in situations where it was necessary and prudent to do so.

    And now you believe it is “corrupt” for the HHS Secretary to follow both the spirit and the letter of the law, and to provide waivers in situations where not providing waivers could mean the loss of thousands of jobs?

    I’m not seeing corruption here. I’m seeing practicality and prudence and sound judgment. Also a great deal of brilliant prior planning, so as to anticipate that there will be situations which are not well-handled by the new law.

    So, Bart, when a law is actually followed, and when it is followed to the benefit of the American people, and when that law was created through listening to the concerns of the people — THAT, you say, is “corrupt.” Well, seeing as how Republicans usually do the reverse of all that, and call it “patriotic,” I suppose I can see where you’re coming from. You just have a very different idea of “corruption” from what is in the dictionary.

  23. dcpetterson says:

    Oh, by the way, Bart… on the one hand you chide Obama and the Democrats for being “socialist” (of course, you re-define the word, so you’re not actually saying what people might think you’re saying). You have particularly leveled this accusation at PPACA, which you claim is a “socialist takeover of healthcare.” Yet you then claim that PPACA has done things specifically to help Big Business, like McDonald’s.

    I want to ask which is it — is PPACA a socialist Democratic plot? Or are the Democrats in the pocket of huge capitalist forces like McDonald’s?

    I say I “want to” ask this, mostly for my own amusement, because I love watching you contradict yourself, apparently without any self-awareness that you’re doing it. But I really don’t need an answer, because I’ve got more enlightening forms of entertainment at my disposal than merely watching you hit yourself in the face with a pie.

  24. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    It is a fundamental precept of Anglo American law that it should be applied equally and not arbitrarily at the whim of a King or HHS Secretary.

    Next, you will notice that all the waivers went to Dem allies (unions, universities and a health care NGO) and big corporations with power and money. Small and medium businesses are still farked.

    Finally, this number of waivers for favored parties strongly suggests that the Obama HHS recognizes that Obamacare is an onerous failure to be avoided. Specifically, HHS granted these folks waivers to avoid very public displays of large corporations dropping employee insurance rather than pay the costs of Obamacare approved insurance.

    Obamacare has to rank up with the Endangered Species Act as the most arbitrary and punitive legislation in our lifetime.

  25. drfunguy says:

    What could be more enlightening than watching Bart get bitched-slapped?
    😉

  26. Bart DePalma says:

    drfunguy says: “What could be more enlightening than watching Bart get bitched-slapped?”

    What are you going to do? Bleed on me?

  27. drfunguy says:

    Nope, laugh at you while I await your response.
    In case you forgot, the question (most recent from me that you are ignoring because it exposes your continual and blatant hypocrisy) was:
    BDP: “Progressivism is at its core corrupt”
    So you will no doubt agree, by the same logic, that conservatism is at its core corrupt as demonstrated by the scandalous, illegal and dishonest activities of the Bush II, Reagan and Nixon administrations and various elected Republican politicians?

  28. drfunguy says:

    I admit, its not as good as dcpetterson:
    “I want to ask which is it — is PPACA a socialist Democratic plot? Or are the Democrats in the pocket of huge capitalist forces like McDonald’s?
    I say I “want to” ask this, mostly for my own amusement, because I love watching you contradict yourself, apparently without any self-awareness that you’re doing it. But I really don’t need an answer, because I’ve got more enlightening forms of entertainment at my disposal than merely watching you hit yourself in the face with a pie.”
    That really was worth repeating.

  29. drfunguy says:

    And if you’re going to quote Arthur from Monty Python and the Holy Grail shouldn’t , _you_ have a leg to stand on, rather than having had them cut out from under you?

  30. Bart DePalma says:

    drfunguy says: “So you will no doubt agree, by the same logic, that conservatism is at its core corrupt as demonstrated by the scandalous, illegal and dishonest activities of the Bush II, Reagan and Nixon administrations and various elected Republican politicians?”

    Nixon’s domestic policies were far to the left of Clinton, left of Carter and just short of Obama. If he was a Dem, Nixon would be among your pantheon of heroes.

    Bush 43 was also to the left of Clinton, enacted the first entitlement since before Reagan, put federal intervention in local schools on steroids and allied with the Dems to enact TARP against nearly complete opposition by the GOP. The only conservative economic policy Bush implemented was the tax rate reduction in 03. The Tea Party was almost as much in response to Bush as it was Obama.

  31. shortchain says:

    On the other hand, here’s what yer tea party guys expect for themselves.

    Pretty much the definition of corruption is expecting special favors for yourself while denying them to the population at large.

    So I guess we can conclude that the Tea Party is corrupt on delivery.

  32. shortchain says:

    By the way, Mr. U. When I create a linky thing, it doesn’t get highlighted unless you mouse over it about half the time. There’s a link in that previous comment — mouse over “here’s” to see it.

    If I have to explicitly underline link text, it’ll just add another layer of pain to the effort of making comments other than plain text.

  33. Bart DePalma says:

    shortchain:

    Demanding that the government leave us alone is not demanding special favors from that government. Demanding special favors is a progressive SOP.

  34. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Try the link. I’m sure you’ll get the point. Eventually.

  35. drfunguy says:

    So Bush, he was a progressive, and that Nixon he was a progressive too, and Reagan, I guess he musta been one too?
    Meanwhile, the point that your logic (if some who are identified as progressives are corrupt, “progressivism [must be] at its core corrupt”) is flawed escapes you entirely…

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