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What is a progressive?

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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 10:58 PM
Original message
What is a progressive?
As we begin '12, there's one phenomenon that's been bothering me. So every once in a while the debate will rage over whether so-and-so is a "true progressive," and here and there stances are cited as evidence that have little to do with the question. I'm going to list some such stances that are often described as progressive:

  • Acknowledgment of man-made global warming
  • Support for habeas corpus
  • Opposition to extraordinary rendition
  • Opposition to warrantless wiretapping
  • Opposition to torture
  • Defense of Social Security
  • Defense of Medicare

    There are many others, and I'm sure you can add plenty of them yourselves. The point here is that there is nothing whatever progressive about these stances. The first is simply a refusal to deny a preponderance of scientific evidence--William Jennings Bryan was and Bernie Sanders is progressive, but they differ on this! The other stances are in fact classically -conservative- positions. They look to preserve prior or current rights and practices--they are not attempting to advance or invent, but to retain. None of those latter positions necessarily espouses new rights (or the expansion of existing rights) for anyone.

    Now it certainly stands in some rank of praise to acknowledge scientific evidence, or to defend cherished rights and institutions against attack--there's no question about that. But isn't it a bit strange we so readily use "progressive" to represent the preservation of -past- progress?
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    pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 06:25 AM
    Response to Original message
    1. Are you asking if defending past progress against attacks from the right, is progressive?
    Perhaps not in some textbook definition, but politically I would say it certainly is.

    Any future progressive successes that we achieve will undoubtedly be subsequently attacked by the right in an attempt to destroy them. If we don't successfully defend past progress, we really haven't achieved much.
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    ReggieVeggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 06:38 AM
    Response to Original message
    2. The root of progressive is "progress"
    If William Jennings Bryan was a progressive, then he had a forward perspective on some issues that he championed. The idea being to move forward. If he was conservative and/or regressive on some issues, that doesn't nullify progressives steps he might have made.
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