20
   

What does the word 'progressive' mean? Line up to tell me, take a ticket!

 
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2015 07:08 pm
@georgeob1,
That was even funnier, George. I read it with the brogue.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2015 11:03 pm
I don't think anyone would disagree that, compared with Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders is a progressive. The distinction between progressives and liberals, if any, is a good deal more difficult. What, if anything, does a progressive espouse or believe that a liberal doesn't? And if there's no difference between them, then why the different labels?
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2015 11:29 pm
@joefromchicago,
I don't see much difference between the labels. I also do not see any problem with more than one label for things.

In my opinion the growth of the term "progressive" is both a reaction to the linguistic pejoration of the term "liberal" by conservatives (which you kinda touched on earlier) and because it is a term that has fewer negative connotations (can't be construed as "liberal with government money" as easily etc) and is a better counterpart to the term "conservative" (it's more clearly an antonym to conservative than liberal is).
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 10:03 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
What, if anything, does a progressive espouse or believe that a liberal doesn't?

I agree that's the best question to ask in order to illuminate the issue. Historic examples of illiberal progressive policies, I would argue and have argued before, include the sterilizing of handicapped people to furnish progress in the human gene pool, as well as prohibition. On the issue of marijuana prohibition today, legalizing marijuana is clearly the liberal position but not so clearly the progressive position. Progressives might come out on either side of the issue.

Moving from policies to personalities: I see trade union leaders, in countries where they have power, as progressive but not very liberal types. Hippies, I see as liberal but not always progressive. Arlo Guthrie, for instance, would be an example of a non-progressive liberal personality.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 11:50 am
@Thomas,
I appreciate the historical examples, but unless your name happens to be Bob LaFollette, I don't think the progressives of today are espousing the progressive policies of the early 1900s, any more than Democrats of today are espousing the bimetallism of William Jennings Bryan.

Thomas wrote:
On the issue of marijuana prohibition today, legalizing marijuana is clearly the liberal position but not so clearly the progressive position. Progressives might come out on either side of the issue.

Explain.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 11:54 am
@joefromchicago,
I'd like to see the explanation too, liberals come on both sides of the issue as well.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 11:59 am
@Thomas,
I think the hippies would disagree....& you'd have to define us as well.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 06:12 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Thomas wrote:
On the issue of marijuana prohibition today, legalizing marijuana is clearly the liberal position but not so clearly the progressive position. Progressives might come out on either side of the issue.

Explain.

Legalizing Marijuana is liberal because it removes one of the major single causes of mass incarceration in America --- and because the activity that the mass incarceration supposedly discourages does not, in itself, restrict anybody else's liberty.

Progressives, on the other hand, might come out on the opposite site (or not) because human liberty is only one of several goals that progressives want to make progress towards. For example, progressives might oppose marijuana legalization because of its supposed role in traffic accident or workplace absenteeism.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 06:16 pm
@Lash,
Lash wrote:
& you'd have to define us as well.

. . . where "us" is "progressives"? No I don't, because my contention is that there exists no definition more descriptive than "I am for things getting better and against things getting worse". I don't use the word "progressive" (other than to discourage its usage) for this very reason. I will happily attempt to define any word I actually use --- but not the ones I don't use because I don't they don't mean anything in particular.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 06:30 pm
@Thomas,
What is your rebuttal to the contention that "progressive" merely means they tend (not invariably) to be more accepting of the evolutions in society versus conservatives who tend (not invariably) to be less accepting of evolutions in society.

And that at different times what that means may be different, but that it describes a fundamental personality trait (people who generally like change vs people who generally don't).

People who generally like change are clearly different from people who generally don't, and neither are monolithic in their acceptance or opposition to changes.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 06:33 pm
@Thomas,
No, the hippies.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 07:22 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
What is your rebuttal to the contention that "progressive" merely means they tend (not invariably) to be more accepting of the evolutions in society versus conservatives who tend (not invariably) to be less accepting of evolutions in society.

Compare the Democratic Party's platform with the Republican Party's platform. According to general American usage, which is labeled more progressive? And which platform, if enacted, would change the status quo in America more? That is why the distinction you suggest does not convince me.
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 07:23 pm
@Lash,
Lash wrote:
No, the hippies.

Hippies are like pornography. I know them when I see them.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 07:34 pm
@Thomas,
I reject that. I'm a hippie.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 07:52 pm
My un-scholarly take is that when liberal became a dirty word for a long time, many liberals began calling themselves progressives. As distinguished from more erudite definitions. I felt a touch of resentment, because I am proud to claim the liberal tag.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 08:47 pm
@Thomas,
The last hippies are in their 70's now. They're increasingly easy to spot Wink
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 08:53 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
unless your name happens to be Bob LaFollette, I don't think the progressives of today are espousing the progressive policies of the early 1900s, any more than Democrats of today are espousing the bimetallism of William Jennings Bryan.

Fair enough. But if progressive and liberal policies coincided in the past and don't coincide today, that, too, is evidence that the two concepts are distinct.

But independent of whether I'm right on this particular aspect, I'd like to pursue your idea that progressives are intimidated liberals who dare not speak their name anymore. I agree with that. And I think it matters, because I think it's bad strategy to change one's brand in response to detractors disparaging it.

For example, take the historical cat-and-mouse game about the proper name for the African-American community ("We're negroes". "No, we're Black." "No, we're Afro-Americans". "No, we're people of color --- not to be confused with colored people", etc). Compare it with the gay community's strategy of owning swear-words like "fag" and "queer" and turning them into badges of pride. In my opinion, the gay community's strategy worked far better, and left-of-center Americans ought to emulate it.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 09:21 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Fair enough. But if progressive and liberal policies coincided in the past and don't coincide today,

Mindo on my part: It's the other way round of course.

Thomas wrote:
that, too, is evidence that the two concepts are distinct

This conclusion stands.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 10:10 pm
I take this all as a clue to not even start to categorize myself.

I can deal with that.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 10:34 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
But independent of whether I'm right on this particular aspect, I'd like to pursue your idea that progressives are intimidated liberals who dare not speak their name anymore. I agree with that.

Not surprisingly, I agree with you when you agree with me. I was initially attracted to the label "progressive" because I saw it as a movement by some liberals away from the timorous positions of the cowardly Democrats. But then it became evident that the name change didn't reflect any substantive change in policy. Instead, progressives were simply afraid that if they kept calling themselves "liberals" conservatives were going to give them wedgies or dip their pigtails in inkwells or something. The brave ones, as Edgar points out, are actually the ones who resisted the new label and continued calling themselves "liberals." Not that those liberals have changed their ways much either - they're still, on the whole, a bunch of fraidy cats- but at least they're not afraid of the term "liberal." That puts them one up on the progressives, I suppose.
 

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