The Difference Between Liberal and Progressive
OK, before I get there, a word about terms—specifically, liberal vs. progressive. Everyone seems to have their own definitions; mine involves the distinction between values and action. If you think every American should be guaranteed health insurance, you're a liberal; if you're trying to make universal health care happen, you're a progressive.
(h/t to J Fyrste)
This is similar to my own personal definition* of Liberal:
people who want things like universal healthcare, out of Iraq, privacy rights, help for the homeless, good public schools, justice, equality, etc... but accept the excuses made by politicians and the media for why these things are not possible. See the Process Dodge for more on this.
Progressives, on the other hand, know that progressive policy is possible (and necessary, real soon) and want to fight whatever stands in the way of making it happen.
Another difference is the Liberal and Progressive attitude towards elections:
- For Liberals the ultimate goal in politics is to get Democrats elected.
- For Progressives the ultimate goal is the enactment of progressive policy.
These are not always the same thing.
As Progressives learned from the last year, getting Democrats elected does not automatically translate into progressive policy. The Democratic controlled congress has failed to promote or even defend Progressive values on pretty much every issue that has come up, from Iraq to FISA.
Progressives also learned from the last 8 years that progressive policy has NO chance if the Republicans are in charge.
Democratic Party (or non-Republican) control of government is a necessary but not sufficient condition to bring about progressive policy.
This explains my and possibly others' concerns about efforts at bipartisanship and triangulation by Democrats running for office.
Since the liberal prime directive is to win elections, they argue that compromises must be made in terms of policy, because policy is secondary.
What we need is both electoral success and the successful promotion of progressive policy. These thing have to happen simultaneously. Here is a picture to help understand this concept.
Progressives would argue that policy is everything: what is the point if a candidate wins the election but does not enact progressive legislation?
Also, Progressives would argue that progressive policies are popular, so why would candidates make compromises with conservative policy in order to gain popularity?
The Media Filter
This is where the corporate media's reality filter comes in. The media filter takes people's real concerns and turns them into the concerns of corporations and super-rich individuals.
Corporate media's paymasters fear nothing more than progressive policy. Politicians themselves, not so much, because they can be steered away from progressive policy.
One way of steering politicians is to force them to play to the corporate media's version of reality. Fictions like "the problem with Washington is excessive partisanship". The reality is that the problem with Washington is the Republican Party and the Conservative movement's infrastructure.
The lure of subscribing to the corporate media's version of reality can be seductive. Because corporate media controls most voters' access to information, making nice with the corporate media can be very good to a cooperative candidate.
But this allows the corporate media, the Conservative think tanks and the corporations that fund them, to shape policy. And these policies will always be in the interest of corporations and the super-rich rather than the interests of the citizens.
To quote one of the greatest movies of all time: "this is our concern, dude".
* Everything that follows this asterisk should to be interpreted as my own thoughts rather than an interpretation or paraphrasing of Mr. Krugman's. The initial quote was simply the inspiration for this post.