When people are introduced to politics they don’t usually get a couple of lectures on each type of politics and asked to decide which group they would like to throw their support behind. Many people never really hear both sides of the argument in a non-biased way. This is because politics is biased by nature. If someone is interested in politics enough to tell you about politics they will tell you their side of the story. This can be done in two different ways.
The first way is to tell you all the bad things about the other group. They can go on about this for hours, because it’s always easy to find bad things about people if you look hard enough. The second way is to tell someone all the good things about your group. This is an equally valid way to present your argument, but it takes more time and it is generally nuanced with details that most people don’t care about. It is quite easy to come up with denigrating slogans that make fun of the other side, but it is more difficult to condense your view of the future under the leadership of a political party into a few meaningful words.
So, it comes down to politics is like religion. Someone tells you about a political way of thinking, but they don’t tell you the rest of the story. It could be your parents or your peers. You could even read about politics in books or watch political commentary on your favorite news channel. But, no matter where you learn about politics it’s usually biased in some way. I am no different, so I thought that I’d describe some of the positive aspects of progressive politics.
Progressive has several definitions, but they are all generally referring to the same concept. The first three are here:
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.
So, the idea is to move forward and make things better. This means that in order to move forward and make things better we must make two assumptions. We need to assume that things are currently not as good as they could be, and we must assume that there is a way to make them better.
This is opposed to conservative ideology that assumes that things are very good now, unless of course there are things that have recently changed for the worse.
So, the progressive ideology must look for the things that need to be improved and decide which are the most important things that need to be changed and prioritize the importance of changing these things. Once the most important issues are identified a plan is needed to improve the problem.
Most people usually find themselves on different sides of the fence on different issues. It would certainly be irrational to change everything because changing everything without a good plan would be irresponsible. It is equally irresponsible to refuse to change anything or change everything back to some known “good” time based on the idea that everything that the government is doing is working perfectly well or worked well at some previous time in history. In real everyday politics we know that there are only a few issues that are being debated and considered and they come down to the issues of how we should take care of the poor, working class, and the wealthy classes when it comes to economics.
When it comes to ethical laws should they be determined by religion as they were in the past, or should we create a new way of creating ethical laws based on what is best for a multicultural multi-religious society. Conservatives believe that religion has done a good job in the past and we should rely on tradition to dictate laws. Progressives believe that religious ethical ideas are arbitrary from religion to religion and a better law that encompasses many religious ideas would be better and each person is still free to observe there personal religious laws under these laws. Progressives ask the questions: “Why should one religion hold more influence than other religions in this multi-religious society. Likewise, why should one cultural perspective dictate one perspective to see the world?”
In addition to economics and ethics, the preservation of our environment has also been a crucial issue among progressives. Progressives believe that the current rates of consumption of natural resources can not be sustained. If we want to live in a clean future we need to consider how we are going to get to that future. Conservatives believe that they don’t see any problems with the current course and when they do they will be able to correct the course by economics. Progressives believe that change now is cheaper and easier than changes further down the road.
Almost any issue in today’s politics stems in some way from these three issues, the three E’s. Education, crime, drugs, guns, and war all come from these issues in one way or in more than one way. Education leads to opportunity and a way out of the economic despair that the poor regularly experience. How much money we should contribute to each of these issues falls out of the economics of the issues. The ethics of protecting our children from temptation and danger stem from the ethics issues. When we should fight wars with weapons or words also stems from the ethics of protecting our nation verses ethics or protecting the innocent citizens of other countries and the world. One could even argue that the protection of the environment and the economics of the classes are themselves actually descendent from the over arching ethics, and conservatives do argue this way. But I would say from a society point of view these issues rise to the same level ethics because society must have a “good” environment and a “good” economics in which to prosper just as we should have “good” ethics. I would also say that which industries get tax breaks are economic issues but not necessarily ethical issues.
Since, make progress on these issues is not guaranteed and quite often different ways of improving our life require experiment and trial and error progressives are sometimes painted as flip-floppers by the conservatives. This is because the effects of change are not always known with certainty. But, with progressives the vision is known even if the path is not known. With conservatives the path and vision have been lived before and to change it in hopes of improvement are too risky. Conservatives by definition avoid risk.
The above paragraph illustrates how progressive politics offers the traditional American vision of a great future based on taking risks. This is the spirit of the colonists and the pioneers. In my view it is quite sad that America has taken a step backward to take less risk out of the fear that risk may yield failure. In fact, many of the working class Americans that have been lured to follow the conservative ideology don’t actually realize what this means for their vision of the future. Conservatives would like to change the economy back to the times before regulations and unions. They are looking back to the 1890s or 1920s as the golden years. We should remember that these were the years where corporations exploited workers and unions rose up to fight this exploitation. The wealthy class lived in style with servants and didn’t associate with the lower classes. Prohibition was a law that effected the working class, but not the wealthy who had alcohol shipped in to private parties.
The point is that Progressive Politics offers a clear and bright future with calculated risk. Conservative politics offers more of the same, or actually turning the clock back to nostalgic times of the wealthy which offers less risk to the wealthy and ironically more risk to the working class and the poor. politics