Progressivism – values beyond the box

Progressives have a problem on their hands. No, it’s not Bush, the war or global warming. No, the problem with progressives is progressives.

What progressives are having problems with is showing their opposition and even their constituents what their values and ideologies are.

This problem was evident in John Kerry’s campaign in 2004. One of the major concerns of voters was that Kerry had no platform and didn’t stand by his ideology.

The term “flip-flop” was used ad nauseam. Whether or not Kerry was simply suppressed by the conservative media isn’t important, but that Kerry wasn’t able to get his platform across to the voting public is.

What progressives need to do now is find a system in which we can express our views simply and easily. Progressive values are difficult to translate into political agendas, unlike conservative values.

It is far easier for conservatives to fit their values into tight, little, constrictive boxes.

Progressives, however, have far-spanning goals, always changing when better information arrives. We cannot reject this way of governing campaigns and legislature, however, as it is a core progressive value. We must, in fact, embrace it. Both in socio-economic and moral terms, this is what makes our views and values so great.

Progressives must find a way to unite themselves without suppressing their own views.

Conservatives have something that liberals can only dream of – regarding political power, at least. That thing is simplicity.

There is no ambiguity to conservative beliefs. Pro-war, pro-“faith”, anti-immigration, pro-elitist education, “tax-relief,” etc., nice, simple, neat-and-tidy boxes. Even these, however, can be more concisely defined under an overall strict father-figure model of morality.

More importantly, even if a conservative representative, pundit or supporter doesn’t agree 100 percent with the GOP standard, they’re requested or made to hold back those misgivings and deviations in order to keep those simple “values” boxes.

Progressives, however, have no such simplicity. Progressives have too many different moral obligations. I refer to it as a problem only because it hinders the progressive’s ability to build strong support for a common cause. Since the conservatives have wrapped themselves into their little idyllic cocoons, progressives must fight for those who need someone to fight with them and for them.

This, of course, is the problem. Progressive advances must be made on so many fronts that it is hard to make these advances politically manageable.

There are so many people interested in focusing on singular progressive values, to appease them all would be impossible.

There are environmental progressives, moral progressives, economic progressives, educational progressives, social progressives, anti-Bush progressives and many others.

And all of these groups have subgroups as well. It seems a hopeless cause.

Help is in sight, however. Many progressives would fight for several or all of these values, but no matter what, everyone has a number one concern.

Progressives must find a way to combine these individual moral codes into an easily understood moral core. They must find a way to fight from a base, and from that base, expand.

So, what is the glue that binds progressives together? Progressives’ core values should be something simple, easy to understand, and yet embrace all of the great ideas behind progressive values. Where conservatives are strict authoritarians, progressives should be protective but supportive.

This supportive core is a perfect base from which to expand.

Most importantly, where conservatives shun change, progressives must embrace it!

Where conservatives augment support for their ideology by neglecting the needs of many of their supporters, progressives must do the opposite.

Progressives must recognize the importance of each and every one of the values held by the constituents of the progressive base.

They must also address each as important, evaluate the need for each issue’s resolution and give support where necessary.

With the elections this week, it’s a good time to try something new. People like Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel are representatives that progressives must assist and emulate.

They are the epitome of everything the progressives need. Watch these people. See what you can do to find more people like Dean and Emanuel. Most importantly, be these people.

Be strong, be passionate about your beliefs and don’t be afraid to shake things up. These are core progressive beliefs that we can build from.

Information from –, “Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate – the Essential Guide for Progressives” George Lakoff.