Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Is A Progressive?

A lot of people talk about progressive politics and supporting progressive candidates, but there is no clear definition of what progressive means. I suspect it means something a little bit different to everyone. I wanted to post some of my musings about what a progressive is and isn't. I'd like to hear other people's ideas about this too.

Let's start this discussion off with a sunflower, which always turns toward the light.

To me, progressivism is about issues and philosophy. You are a progressive because of your stance on issues and your political philosophy, not because of allegiance to a party or a personality.

To me, the following are core progressive principles:

1. Democracy - Every individual should have an equal voice in government, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or class.

2. Liberty - Every individual has a right to free expression and self-determination, provided they are not infringing on the rights of others.

3. Economic Justice - Every individual has a basic right to the means of survival, a right to a fair wage for their work, and a right to a level playing field that will allow those who work hard to succeed.

It follows from this last one that health care and education are basic rights, as is the right to organize, that we should have a decent minimum wage, and that we should seek to rid the world of poverty and homelessness.

4. Access to Information - A free, but well-regulated press, an open government, and public education are some of the things that follow from this principle.

5. Living in Balance with the Earth - Respect for natural cycles, solving global warming, and creating a sustainable society are some natural results of this principle.

6. Nonviolence - Learning to deal with conflict without violence and moving toward world peace.

7. Equality - All people are equal regardless of race, gender, class, ethnicity, or creed. Each individual deserves respect.

The "progress" in progressive is progress from an old, historical feudal or class system to a sustainable society where all individuals are valued and respected. The dawning of a new age and a new model of society.

I know that we can quibble over the definitions and discuss whether or not specific political positions or people are progressive, but I think progressives share a core set of values that is to some degree similar to what I have just described.

I will add that I think that progressives value goals and issues over parties and personalities. Adhering to a particular party or loyalty to a political personality are not, in other words, what makes you a progressive. What makes you a progressive is your dedication to human progress.

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