Monday, November 06, 2006

What is 'progressive' politics anyway?

Ever since I jumped on board the Daily Kos online ship a couple of years ago, the biggest site for 'progressives', I've been asking myself that question. And I have yet to find an answer.

I erroneously thought the 'progressive' Democrats or lefties were liberals like me. Even Daily Kos is often referred to a 'liberal' site in the MSM, despite the fact that kos has self-identified as a 'Libertarian Democrat' - which is the topic of his next book. As for the rest of the kossacks, my perception is that the majority are far more centrist than liberal.

On Sunday, Booman wrote about embracing conservatives under the big tent of the Democratic party (and I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong in that summary):

In the long run we need the Democratic Party to be huge. But in order for it to be huge, it cannot be as ideologically pure as it is now. It has to be more nebulous and its appeal has to be populist. That's what I meant when I said I'd like to see a Congress more like the ones under LBJ. No, I don't want to welcome back segregationists. I want to win back conservative values voters by improving their wages, their education, their health care, their pensions, and their environment.

He also hopes for more moderate Republicans so there can be more bipartisan middle ground. That may be ideal (for some) but in the current political climate, it doesn't appear to be very attainable and liberals don't necessarily find that desirable since they'll be stuck with representatives in Centrist Land which invites more Joe Liebermans - not less of them.

Last week, pyrrho wrote a diary about this phenomenon. Here's what he thinks about luring conservatives into the Democratic party:

That is a goal that will fail, again, know why? Because the problem is people like Webb... the problem is conservative ideas themselves. They suck. They are not good for the nation. They claim to be about XYZ, but are really about death, self-destruction, and potholes. It wasn't really just that Stalin didn't get a chance to really try his ideas, Stalinism was bad! It isn't that the Republicans have fallen off the golden path illuminated by the glowing footsteps of Reagan, it's that it FOLLOWED that path, and it leads to ruin, emotional and material.

Of course, since I am a liberal, I agree wholeheartedly.

Which brings me back to my original question: what is 'progressive' politics anyway? Is it the big tent, 'grab 'em where you find 'em' type of ideology to broaden the base of the Democratic party? Is it a movement towards more widespread liberalism? Is it somewhere in between in Centrist Land?

Is Red Dan right when he says:

The views held by liberals are actually MORE popular in this nation than the views held by conservatives or moderates.

It is about time that ONE of the political parties reflected that.

If we do so effectively, we will win MORE seats.

I know that's true in Canada...

So what is 'progressive' politics?


James said...

To the last bit, I suspect that Red Dan isn't far off the mark. The notion that Americans are generally fairly liberal on any of a number of issues is the basic take-home message one can find in Michael Moore's book "Dude, Where's My Country?", in which he digs up some survey data to support the claim.

As far as what "progressive" politics is, I get the distinct impression that there are as many definitions as there are "progressives." At least that's my flip, quick and dirty take.

James said...

A quick note in the margins: there was a reply to this post that turned out to be spam: I took the liberty of deleting it.

catnip said...

I haven't read that Moore book. I'll have to add it to my list.

Janet said...

Well, I guess I'm not a "progressive" because I had to leave a certain "progressive" blog recently.

I'm a Liberal. I'm a human.

James said...

The frogpond place per chance?

Janet said...

James, yup.

James said...

I'll have to say that a certain blogger who recently returned to BT after last summer's tantrum, and then proceeding this month to strut around on various threads as if nothing happened has left a bad taste in my mouth.

belledame222 said...

"progressive" i think has had a number of definitions over the years, indeed not all of them compatible with what one thinks of as "liberal" these days. will look up later when i'm less tired.

what -these- guys' definition of progressive seems to be is, partisan Democrats who am NOT A PUSSY, GODDAMIT!!!

you know, unlike all those wimpy liberals of yesteryear. think Carville glowering pugnaciously from the cover of his book "Had Enough?" and i think you have the general idea. They've eaten their spinach -and- their Wheaties; they are not politically correct; they are "punk," they are hep, hip, with it, daddy-O, be there or be square!

Issues? what issues?

Budd Campbell said...

Well, from the tone here I guess being a social democrat or a union member doesn't qualify.

James said...

One thing I learned very early on in life was being a union member didn't necessarily give an indication of one's political leanings. Case in point, both of my grandfathers were union members. The one who was still alive during my childhood and early adulthood was by his own description a "redneck" who was "worse than Archie Bunker." He was quite proud of that. The grandfather I never met, from my dad's description of him, was hardly progressive either. So it goes.

I realize there are isolated social democrats in the US - we have one who will be sworn in as Senator this upcoming session. There is however no organized social democrat or socialist party in this country that amounts to much of anything. Red Scares (along w/Palmer Raids), McCarthyism, COINTELPRO, etc. pretty well killed that here.