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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-15-13 12:22 PM
Original message
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why so many rank and file Democrats have taken to
Edited on Tue Jan-15-13 12:34 PM by No Elephants
self-identifying as "progressive," while in the same breath, saying "Obama is nowhere near sufficiently "progressive" enough for me."

In 1919, Teddy Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party after a kerfuffle between him and Taft regarding running for President. Some members of the left wing of the Republican Party joined Teddy. As we all know, Taft prevailed.

Both Hillary and Obama have self-identified as "progressives," with a lower case "P."

Not long ago, Obama also self-identified as a moderate 1980s Republican, saying he believed almost everything that TR believed (so is Obama a moderate 1919 Republican or moderate 1980s Republican?)

Anyhoo, I don't much question Obama's use of the word "progressive" to describe himself, except to say that Obama may not even be the most liberal Republican of the 1980s (or of 1919).

But, Obama and Hillary are only examples. This post is trying to get at something more general, namely the meaning of "progressive," when someone is saying something like, "I wish Obama (or whomever) were really a progressive."



As best I can tell, lower case "progressive" seems to mean today whatever the person using the word thinks it means or wants it to mean.

What does it mean to you?

More specifically, in your opinion, is the difference between a "liberal" position and a "progressive" position, or between a liberal politician and a progressive politician?

Any thoughts?
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-15-13 12:35 PM
Response to Original message
1. I stopped using the term after I found the DLC was using it.
Edited on Tue Jan-15-13 12:39 PM by formercia
'Centrists' are progressive. A Republican in the 50's would be considered a Liberal Today.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021312988

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 04:33 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Well, between Republican Pres Herbert Hoover and Republican Prez Eisehnower,
there was a man who got re-elected so many times, including while he was literally half dead. Pissed our unprofessional professional politicians so much, they rushed to amend the Constitution, to make sure no one got elected that many times again.

Still, Eisenhower was a douche, IMO. Seems a lot better in hindsight. And that DU3 thread is fact-impaired.

Eisenhower and MacArthur were the generals who brutalized World War I veterans who demonstrated in Washington, D.C. to receive the bonus money they had been promised during the Depression, when they and their families desperately needed it.

They set up camp. Hoover, whom the revisionists have desperately been trying to whitewash since Dummya took office, called in the military. Because of the whitewash, we'll probably never know which orders he gave, unless maybe we dig up some old newspapers. However, the modern version of the story is that he "only" wanted them dispersed and the two generals supposedly took it on themselves to wrech their camps, destroy their belongings and brutalize them.

Of course, Ike got a lot of glory in WWII, which is probably the sole reason why he was elected President.

Ike's nominee to the SCOTUS was Republican Earl Warren who, as AG of California, had been responsible for interning the Japanese, which will give folks an idea of just how "liberal" Ike actually was. Ironically, and to Ike's great dismay, Warren turned out to head what just may be the most liberal Supreme Court ever, in terms of both civil rights and First Amendment rights, including the "implied" freedom of association."

He stopped at re-distribution of wealth, however, refusing to use equal rights as an excuse to mess with school districts so that the kids in poorer districts got a playing field that was more level with the kids lucky enough to attend public school in the richer districts. He was correct, IMO, that doing something like that was not the function of a court, as opposed to a legislature, let alone the federal Supreme Court.

Republicans want to give him credit for implementing Brown v. Board of Ed. However, the facts are that he delayed implementing Brown v. Board of Ed. until there was public outcry and Eleanor Roosevelt visited the White House to beg him.


Earl Warren wrote in his autobiography of a gathering of (white) Southerners they attended together. Ike said to him, "See, Earl, these are nice people. They just don't want their little girls sitting next to some big black gorilla." (or words to that effect. I don't have the quote handy, but I am almost 100% sure "gorilla" was the word Ike used. I am 100% sure that, whatever term he used, Ike's comment to Warren was racist.

When asked what the biggest mistake of his 8 years in office was, he cited appointing Earl Warren, the Chief Justice who had presided over the school integration decision. Though my Democratic friends seem to adore citing the MIC speech he gave on his very last day as President, he did not cite being career military all his life and doing absolutely nothing to curb the MIC during the 8 years he spent in the Oval Office. Nope. He cited nominating Earl Warren, who had presided over the SCOTUS that overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, after far too many years, as to public school education. (Attorney for the kids, btw, Thurgood Marshall, who later sat on the same Court as the first African American SCOTUS Justice, thanks to a nomination by Pres. John F. Kennedy.

Of course, Eisenhower also chose a dirty trickster at his Vice President. And his reaction to the insanity of Joe McCarthy seemed to be to pretend it wasn't happening, with one little exception--himself and his advisors. To protect them--and no one else--from McCarthy, Ike had used Executive Privilege. That had been so weak in Lincoln's Day that Lincoln actually testified before Congress that his own wife was not aiding the South. No claim of either Executive Privilege or common law spousal privilege.

Ike took that anemic little doctrine and expanded it to make sure that McCarthy didn't trouble Ike and Ike's inner circle. He let the rest of the country fend for itself, though. And so we have Ike and his selfish cowardice to "thank" for a very expanded version of Executive Privilege which Prez. Nixon was happy to try to use as a shield, until a federal judge told him he had to produce the infamous tapes.

Anyhoo. I think the folks who look back to Ike with such fondness could use some history lessons. Plus, but for FDR's spectacular popularity, one can only shudder to imagine what the first Republican elected after Herbert Hoover would have been like. So, if you liked Ike, (a) thank Franklin and Democrats in Congress; and (b) brush up Ike's history and record, outside of WWII.

This is another post that I have written too many times at DU. I hope I remember to bookmark it later so that I never have to write it again.

My earlier posts had links, but there's just so many times I am going to do that.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 04:36 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. BTW:
I believe, though I cannot prove, that the DLC resurrected the word "progressive" to obfuscate deliberately.

Every liberal I know seems to use it as a synonym for "liberal." It isn't.

You mentioned that you stopped using it when you learned it was a DLC term.

Do you by any remote chance recall why you started using it?
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 06:52 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Closet Liberal
when liberal was a bad name and most of the people I worked with were extremely conservative. Now, I don't give a shit what they think.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 07:07 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. When liberal was made a bad name and we allowed it. Never again.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-15-13 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
2. The assholes spent 30 years dragging the word Liberal
through the mud. It was all part of the plan.
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-15-13 07:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I'm proud to be a Liberal
Others need to do the same.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 03:43 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. This other does the same.
Hence, I question the use of "progressive" almost every chance I get.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 05:47 AM
Response to Original message
7. The one sided media narrative has so dumbed down the people of this nation.
Rural AM radio listeners believe the stupidest shit you could possibly imagine. And the stupid shit and crazy threats they believe it, in their limited understanding of the world, liberals cause it all. I once had a misinformed AM radio listener tell me, "One thing about Rush (Limbaugh), he will tell you the truth."

They do not for one minute understand that Nixon was to the left of Obama-politically. Or that Jesus and the founding fathers would be considered liberals on most issues.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 07:05 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. Limbaugh, when called on his crap, reminded us that he is an entertainer and a businessman.
His job is not to tell the truth, but to sell many houss air time each day, so that he can make the huge amount of money that he makes.

He is not doing that simply by telling the unvarnished truth for several hours a day.


But, I resist with all my might any implication that our current troubles do not include the failures of Democratic politicians to oppose Republicans in Congress, to cut back against the bs from Limbaugh and the rest of the media clowns. I never liked Republicans, but, once, they had serious opposition from Democrats. They no longer do.

Per a recent post, I did love Obama's recent press conference. However, unless I see a lot more soon, I can see myself going Green and staying there.
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femrap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-16-13 11:45 PM
Response to Original message
11. As for
today, (NOT our past history), I have considered Progressive more to the Left of Liberal.

I think the better terminology is 'Leftist' or on a Class basis, a 'Have Not.'

I am the 99%....a bumper sticker on my car. And after someone tailgated me so tight tonight, I'm removing it. It's not worth the whiplash.

TPTB rule...and this Dem vs. Rep is getting old. As far as ACTIONS go, I see little difference between W Admin and the O Admin. Now, my medical records are available to the gov't. I feel as if I'm living 1984.

I don't like Big Brother.

I'm glad I'm old.

Hopefully Mother Nature will shake things up and TPTB will be disturbed....mightily.

Just because a dem prez does something, doesn't make it necessarily good....ie the elimination of Glass-Steagall, Nafta, and Gatt.

Does Eric Holder ever go to work....or does he just play golf all week?

Can I get banned from here as well?
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-13 04:27 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Thanks femrap.
Edited on Thu Jan-17-13 04:44 AM by No Elephants
As you know, DLCers and New Democrats berate liberals as far too extreme, but describe themselves as "progressives" and their policies as "progressive."

And, Obama's campaign slogan "Forward" is right out of the dictionary definition of "progressive."

I cannot help but wonder how you reconcile things like that with your view that "progressive" is to the left of "liberal."

I also wonder if you have any external basis for that view or whether it is a kind of gut reaction?

I am not challenging. I am genuinely interested in trying to figure out how and why Democrats came to think that progressive means "well left of Obama."



ETA: I don't think being a liberal or being a progressive has anything to do with how much money one has, whether one is a have or a have not. Rather, both refer to one's political philosophy and leanings.

Matt Damon is clearly to Obama's left (as am I). Damon is very rich. (I'm not rich, but I did all right.)

Nelson Rockefeller was a liberal Republican. Dick Cheney is not. Nelson's name was synonymous with wealth annd Cheney has a much lesser, but tidy fortune. ]

Many conservatives are dirt poor; many liberals are rolling in dough. And certainly those who describe themselves today as "progressives" wealthy--Hillary Clinton I assume shares in the Clinton fortune, which was well over $110 million when she ran for office. Rahm is doing okay, too. i am pretty sure that some on message boards who describe themselves as "progressive" don't have a lot.

BTW, what do you make of the fact that the term "progressive" had faded from every day politicial speech for a long time, but resurfaced when the DLC resurrected it? Do you think the DLC resurrected the term and applied it to themselves with the intention that it mean almost the direct opposite of what it mean in TR's day?
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-13 05:57 AM
Response to Original message
13. Maybe it's useful at this point to look at some dictionary definitions.
I considered putting the dictionary definitions in the OP, but rejected that idea because my question was "what does 'progressive mean to you?'" It's easy to find out when it means to dictionary compiliers, not so easy to get individal definitions from people who do not make a living from words.

If you read the definitions, please bear in mind that, as to the definition of "progressive," no political party of which I have ever heard expressly advocated going backward or expressly opposes "progress;" and even conservatives do no expressly oppose gradual change for the better.

So even the dictionary definition of "progressive" is very Jello (impossible to nail down). This kind of bears out my assertion in the OP that the word seems to mean whatever the person saying it wants it to mean. So, "progressive" was the perfect choice for the DLC, which wanted to run Republicans as Demcrats, without letting any Democrat know what was happening to the Democratic Party.)


(LOL, let's start a new expression, as in "Well, that may sound good on the surface, but, if you try to think about it, it's really very Jello." "Courtney Love's fashion sensibility is very Jello." "His ethics are very Jello." I like it! "Very marshmallow" has a lot of applications, too. And we know that Jello often combines with marshmallows.)


The following contained quite a few surprises for me. Among other things, I am more radical than I might have thought. For example, I do like to go after the root of a problem and I have no problem whatever with rapid change for the better, as opposed to incremental or gradual change. (I do oppose precipitious change though, as in change without regard to consequences, including unintended consequences.)



conservatism

2. A political philosophy or attitude emphasizing respect for traditional institutions, distrust of government activism, and opposition to sudden change in the established order.

2. a political philosophy advocating the preservation of the best of the established order in society and opposing radical change

1. the disposition to retain what is established and to practice a policy of gradualism rather than abrupt change. Cf. radicalism.




progressive

Note: when I typed in "conservative," the free online dictionary gave me choices, one of which was "conservative (politics)." I clicked on that and got the definitions above, under "conservatism. I also got a "liberal (politics)" when I typed in "liberal."

However, when I typed in "progressive," I did not get a choice for "progressive (politics)." I tried typing in "progressivism," but got a paragraph that was clearly about the notion of progressivism of TR's day.


progressive (pr-grsv)
adj.
1. Moving forward; advancing.
2. Proceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments: progressive change.
3. Promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods: a progressive politician; progressive business leadership.


n.
1. A person who actively favors or strives for progress toward better conditions, as in society or government.

progressive
adj
1. of or relating to progress
2. proceeding or progressing by steps or degrees
3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (often capital) favouring or promoting political or social reform through government action, /b]or even revolution, to improve the lot of the majority a progressive policy



liberalism

liberalism (lbr--lzm, lbr-)
n.

2.
a. A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.
b. often Liberalism The tenets or policies of a Liberal party.
3. An economic theory in favor of laissez-faire, the free market, and the gold standard. {huh?}
4. Liberalism
a. A 19th-century Protestant movement that favored free intellectual inquiry, stressed the ethical and humanitarian content of Christianity, and de-emphasized dogmatic theology.
b. A 19th-century Roman Catholic movement that favored political democracy and ecclesiastical reform but was theologically orthodox.


1. a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary legislatures, governmental assurances of civil liberties and individual rights, and nonviolent modification of institutions to permit continued individual and social progress.
2. the principles and practice of a liberal political party. liberalist, n., adj. liberalistic, adj.



radical

radical (rd-kl)
adj.
1. Arising from or going to a root or source; basic: proposed a radical solution to the problem.
2. Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme: radical opinions on education.
3. Favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions: radical political views.


n.
1. One who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions: radicals seeking to overthrow the social order.



adj.
1. Arising from or going to a root or source; basic: proposed a radical solution to the problem.
2. Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme: radical opinions on education.
3. Favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions: radical political views.
4. Linguistics Of or being a root: a radical form.

n.
1. One who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions: radicals seeking to overthrow the social order.

1. of, relating to, or characteristic of the basic or inherent constitution of a person or thing; fundamental a radical fault
2. concerned with or tending to concentrate on fundamental aspects of a matter; searching or thoroughgoing radical thought a radical re-examination
3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) favouring or tending to produce extreme or fundamental changes in political, economic, or social conditions, institutions, habits of mind, etc a radical party


n
1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a person who favours extreme or fundamental change in existing institutions or in political, social, or economic conditions



revolutionary


adj
1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) relating to or characteristic of a revolution
2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) advocating or engaged in revolution
3. radically new or different a revolutionary method of making plastics
4. rotating or revolving






An explanation of what I did with the above definitions, so that I don't mislead anyone.



All definitions above are from the free online dictionary collects definitions from several dictionaries, publikshed by different publishers, though they originally appeared in other dictionaries. http;//www.thefreedictionary.com / So, for instance, the 3 definitions of 'conservatism" below originated in three different dictionaries, but all of which now appear at the link I just gavve.

If several definitions were given by any one dictionary, I tried to choose the one most relevant to a political philosopy, as opposed to, say, individual behavior, fashion, etc. I also deleted references to TR era progressives and to specific political parties in the U.S. and abroad that have or had the word "Progressive" in their names. I also deleted references to progressive tax rates. I also did not show where I deleted definitions and other material that I considered irrelevant to the topic.

But, everything is at freedictionary.com, if you have any question.

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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-13 06:32 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. Thanks for clearing all that up.
:hi:

When we start to take a Teddy Roosevelt attitude toward trusts and monopolies we will have achieved a measure of progressivism. I hope we get along on that course real soon. But I'm not holding my breath.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-13 06:59 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Speaking only for myself, of course, the dictionary only confused me more.
The definitions did not fit my conceptions. In fact, the definition of "liberal" did not even fit the definition I posted on another board some years ago. Which means, the usage has changed, or, at least it means that dictionary compilers believe it has changed.

I'm more bewildered than ever.
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