Just what the hell is a progressive anyway? Does anybody really know? Is a progressive a liberal, a Democrat, a liberal Democrat?
Hillary Clinton came out as a progressive during her presidential campaign. In her attempt to differentiate her new views from her old, she lamented that liberals were associated with big government and old-time progressives were more somehow more individualistic. In fact, Mrs. Clinton was just running scared, like every Democrat since Jimmy Carter, scared shitless of being tarred with the dreaded “L” word–LIBERAL.
Mrs. Clinton was right in one regard. Progressives in the late 19th and early 20th century didn’t give a rat’s ass about the Democrats or the Republicans. They had to rely on their individual courage and convictions, often informed by Socialist and anarchist principles, to oppose child labor, unconscionable working conditions and slave wages because both Democrats and Republicans were shooting them down in the street.
In the videos above, Chris Matthews calls Mr. Obama a progressive. On the Ed Show, Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee criticizes the president but says, “We’re Democrats but we want a progressive Democratic Party.” Talk about oxymorons, just watch Mr. Obama defend tax cuts for the rich.
Randy Shaw, a blogger for, ironically, The Hollywood Progessive, points out: “Today, one-time political activist outsiders like MoveOn.org and Democracy for America operate like left branches of the Democratic Party, not as independent progressive forces. Nearly all of their daily emails attack Republicans, with no major protests or actions against Obama for an endless war in Afghanistan whose cost comes at the expense of teacher layoffs and the slashing of state and federal human services spending.”
In Griftopia, Matt Taibbi sums up the danger of traditional Democrat vs. Republican positioning: “The epic struggle to pass health care reform was at once a shameless betrayal of the public trust of historic proportions and proof that a nation that perceives itself as being divided into red and blue should start paying attention to a third color that rules the day in Washington–a sort of puke-colored politics that puts together deals like this one and succeeds largely through its mastery of the capital city’s bureaucracy. The defining characteristic of puke politics is that if it must have government at all, the government should be purposely ineffectual almost across the board in terms of the functions we usually ascribe to the state and really only competent in one area, and that’s giving away taxpayer money in return for campaign contributions.” I don’t think you could get many old-time progressives to buy into that.
Being a “progressive” is just a fashion statement.
Really, the upswing in the use of the term progressive is just an attempt by baby boomers to redefine themselves one more time. Being a progressive is just like driving a Prius or assiduously recycling. Being a liberal isn’t cool any more, but somehow being a Democrat still is.
What can you expect from the generation who is credited for ending the war in Vietnam, when in fact, most of them joined in the effort because they could smoke pot and get laid? Then they smoked pot, snorted coke and made money. In their waning years, they need to be cool again and they know how to do a thing called re-branding because they developed the concept. Now they, the liberals anyway, call themselves progressives.
If the Ludlow Massacre happened today (and who’s to say it couldn’t?), I think most “progressives” would intently watch the news as striking miners, their wives and children were murdered by the Colorado National Guard. Today’s progressives would worry and wring their hands and wonder what the Democrats were going to do about it, send another contribution to PBS and then go back to sorting the handmade, micro-brewed beer bottles from the organic cane sugar soda cans.
What does this have to do with your money? Well, in the politics of puke, both political parties will sell you down the river to stay in power. The Republicans will send your minor children back to the factories but you may need the benefit of a third or fourth income anyway. Remember it was George Bush who, when speaking to a woman who needed three jobs to support herself and her children, commented that her situation was “uniquely American” and “fantastic.” The Democrats will, more cynically, lie about how much they care and acquiesce to policies that will send your minor children back to the factories.
In the meantime “progressives” still can’t bring themselves to abandon the two-party system, so they will be aiding and abetting policies that, guess what, send your minor children back to the factories.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some wonderful progressive thinkers and writers out there. I read their books and blogs and watch their TV shows all the time. Hey, Rachel Maddow and Robert Reich, when is it time to start using the “S” word? And why doesn’t the Hollywood Progressive at least have the guts to call itself the Hollywood Progressive Party?