The Progressive Debate

The ugly truth is that you can be a progressive and be from nearly any point on the American political spectrum – see both Roosevelts, Truman, Ike, Earl Warren, etc.

Of course, if you accept the rhetorical construct promulgated by the far Left – that “progressive” is just a euphemism for “radical” in the way that the far Right uses “conservative” as a euphemism for “reactionary,” then this all falls apart.

In the name of truth and clarity, however, we must reject these political inexactitudes and name things for what they are.

Bernie Sanders is not a progressive. He is a radical. Hillary Clinton is a liberal.

Ted Cruz is not a conservative. He is a reactionary. John Kasich represents something far closer to a conservative. John Huntsman is a conservative with progressive leanings.

And Donald Trump is a power-hungry opportunist who takes on whatever political shadings he thinks will rouse the nearest rabble and get him one more delegate close to election.

We can argue definitions, but let us do so in the quest for accurate descriptions, not for the sake of political spin.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

6 thoughts on “The Progressive Debate”

  1. Sanders is certainly a “radical” if you accept that “radical” means “someone promoting policies which have worked in all other first-world nations but powerful protected interests have successfully slandered in the USA over decades” e.g. public health. Or alternatively you can have “radical” mean “going back to the economic regime that delivered nearly 70 years of essentially uninterrupted prosperity, rather than sticking with the monetarist deregulatory insanity which has delivered nothing but rapid boom/bust bubbles and high unemployment”.

    Similarly, Clinton isn’t a “liberal” but in fact lines up to the right of every Republican before Reagan, both economically and socially, but, yes, is left of Reagan.

    If we’re speaking truth to power, let’s do so on both sides of the largely imaginary American aisle.

    Likewise, let’s call Drumpf what he is: http://www.vox.com/2016/3/1/11127424/trump-authoritarianism

    It’s long past the time when “opportunist” or “rabble rouser” described the zeitgeist Drumpf is surfing.

  2. Not long after I scheduled this post, I suspected that I would run up against resistance from those whose subjective views of the American political spectrum was different than my own. I thus have started a longish essay attempting to establish an objective modern American political taxonomy that I intend to finish at some point during my sojourn in Washington DC next week.

    It is a truism that one man’s radical is another man’s centrist, but I think our political conversation needs to be broadened, and our spectrum along with it, so it is time for an order that is both descriptive and helpful.

  3. Very keen to read your essay! I have a 5,000-words-so-far “explainer” that attempts to do the same thing — happy to send it to you privately if you’re interested.

  4. Can’t wait to read the taxonomy as well as I don’t the logic of Bernie as a radical; Hilary is both an economic liberal, or say, full neoliberal, while also being a social liberal. I find the two need to be separated as arguably all presidential candidates but arguably one sound fully neoliberal.

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