It’s Time For Liberals to Decide: Are You a Progressive or a Democrat?
Is there a difference between liberalism and progressivism? Or are they simply two ways to describe people with “bleeding hearts” who just want everybody to get a lot of free stuff?
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines liberalism this way:
LIBERALISM: a political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.
A liberal believes that it is necessary to have a central government in order to protect citizens from each other. They also believe that the governed must have a way to control that government and to keep it from abusing its power. They believe that the purpose of government is to provide the basic necessities to the people.
OK. So what’s a progressive?
Merriam-Webster puts it like this:
PROGRESSIVISM: of, relating to, or characterized by progress; making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities
A progressive liberal believes that the government exists specifically to take care of the citizens and that we must continue to move forward, embracing new ideas to achieve that end.
Over the past few decades, every voter in the US has been forced to self-identify as either a liberal or a conservative. Unlike the original definitions of either liberalism or conservatism, though, we have been told that liberals want the government to give them material goods and money. Conservatives are said to believe in small government that just lets us all govern ourselves with no handouts or financial support.
And once we’ve decided which side of this line we are on, we have been assigned to one of the two ruling political parties. Liberals always vote Democrat; conservatives vote Republican.
It’s become like a rule.
And every time there has been an attempt to move toward a different choice, both parties throw a tantrum and scream “betrayal”!
So you want to vote for Ross Perot, you independent-minded voter? What are you thinking?! You’ll be stealing votes from Clinton/from Bush!!
You like Ralph Nader? Jill Stein? How could you?! You are not thinking about the big picture! You need to support the party because of judges, down-ballot positions, control of Congress, taxes……
The other day, just before Super Tuesday, I read that Joe Biden was urging liberals to vote carefully in order to save “the soul of the Democratic Party.”
I am a progressive.
That means that I want to see progress. I want to see our country going forward, moving into a better future. I want change, and I’m getting plenty tired of waiting. The past four decades have shown me over and over again that as the country takes tiny steps from right to left, as the party of the President shifts from R to D and back again, nothing changes.
Corporations continue to get tax breaks. Tax money is held in off-shore shelters like the Cayman Islands. Millions of Americans lack health insurance and thousands go bankrupt every year from medical bills. Income inequality increases and no matter how many innocent children are blown to bits in a year, we still make no effort to control our gun ownership. The earth gets hotter, the seas rise and our political leaders still take money from the fossil fuel industry.
We’ve been at war for my adult children’s entire lives, no matter which of the two big parties is in charge. Both parties are bought by big pharma, the NRA, big agro, the insurance industry and the biggest corporations on earth. Both bring in money from the defense industry.
It makes me sick.
I am a progressive. I am a liberal.
But you know what?
I am most assuredly NOT a Democrat.
So when I read that I should vote for somebody so I can help to save the Party, or its soul, I am hugely unimpressed.
I am not required to save the Democratic Party.
I voted for the most progressive candidate in the primaries. Easy.
But what do I do if, once again, the Democratic Party chooses the least progressive, most traditional, middle of the road, incrementalist candidate?
What do I do if the 2020 election comes down to Trump vs. Biden?
I know the arguments. I have to vote blue because a rotten pile of potato peelings would be a better choice than Donald Trump.
I have to vote Democrat, because the shape of the federal judiciary for the next twenty years will be impacted. The reputation of the US is at stake. Women’s rights are under attack, as are the rights and protections for the LGBT community. Immigrant rights are a key consideration.
I know. I understand all of this.
But if it comes to a choice between Biden and Trump, I will not be able to vote for either.
I believe that unless we make major changes to our system of government, we will continue to be under threat from the same powerful interests that control everything now.
If we vote for Biden, it is true that there will more moderate judges appointed throughout the court system. For a few years, direct legislative attacks on marginalized communities will be lessened.
But almost 28 million Americans will remain uninsured. College debt will continue to cripple our young people. Drug costs will likely continue to skyrocket.
If past history is any indication, our endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East will continue to rage. Gun deaths will proliferate, and the earth will get hotter and hotter as Democrats set up endless studies of how to slowly reduce carbon emissions.
Perhaps worst of all, the two major parties will continue to hold the rest of us hostage. We’ll be faced with a choice that is no choice at all, a Hobson’s choice if ever there was one.
Should I vote for the most horrific human ever to enter the Oval, or should I vote for the next corporate, mainstream, “don’t rock the boat,” centrist? Add in Biden’s vote in favor of the Iraq war, his “woman” issue and his habit of lying to make himself look better, and I just can’t manage to give him my vote. That one vote is the only tiny bit of a voice I have to influence the path our country will choose.
I just have to remain true to my progressive beliefs. It’s too late to do anything else.