What is Progressive?

Here’s a picture of one of my favorite Californians taken when he was campaigning to be elected Governor of California. Mr. Upton Sinclair writer of The Jungle and numerous other novels about America written from the progressive viewpoint. I was lurking at dKos tonight and came across this post which struck a chord.

When asked what I am, politically that is, I invariably reply, ‘I am a Progressive’ and with the capital P. Historically progressivism was the name given to a political movement in America which started in the early 1900s with the founding of the Progressive party. Yes boys and girls there actually used to be a Progressive Party. Your Greens might be surprised to know that it is the most successful third party in American political history. Yeah, yeah, I hear the screams already. Read this and get back to me.

Here is what the Wikipedia says, in part, about Progressivism today:

  • Finally, in the most specific sense, there is the continuation of the political movement/ideology that began in the late 19th century. This ideology is mostly adhered to by the political left-wing, but not every liberal is a progressive. Progressives support the continual advancement of workers’ rights and social justice. The first progressives were some of the earliest proponents of anti-trust laws and the regulation of large corporations and monopolies. They were also among the first advocates of government-funded environmentalism, and the creation of National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. It is this meaning of progressivism that will be covered more extensively in the rest of the article below.

So, we owe the National Park system to these far-sighted Americans a system the citizens still cherish as this AssClown of the right found out just last week.

This post is not about the past however instructive that might be. It’s about us. Specifically, who are we? We who call ourselves Progressives today.

What are our bedrock principles?

What are the underlying reasons we have adopted those principles?

What, if any, principles are we not in agreement on?

I want to know, need to know, not only for myself but so that I can communicate them effectively to the many people I discuss politics with every day. Those who know me know that I already have a whole set of partial answers to these questions but I’m looking to improve my understanding of progressivism, to sharpen my thoughts by engaging with others.

So, if it’s not too much to ask.

What do you think progressivism is today; here and now in America 2006?

And yeah, I know Sinclair was a frikin’ socialist. His books helped fuel the progressive fight against the monopolistic practices of the day and so I’m appropriating him. Teddy Rooseveldt was busy today.

I, A.Citizen, am asking ya…

Update: malcontent and I, A.Citizen, have been thinking about what a modern progressive agenda would look like. What are we about? This would encompass both policy and process.

We’d like to throw this topic open to you the netroots and thus invite your answers to the following questions:

  • List four national public policies all progressives should commit to become reality?
  • What can we do as individual progressives to create a viable agenda?
  • How might we use the blogosphere as a tool to do these things?

I’m actually doing that right now by calling on you to give us your thoughts on these questions in the comments. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.


One Response to What is Progressive?

  1. A.Citizen says:

    OK, Chris Bowers is thinking along the same lines. Check it out here: http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/11/12/131922/73

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