Why I'm A Progressive
I've struggled on several occasions to define the difference between Progressives and Conservatives and why I prefer being a Progressive; here's another attempt to explain the differences as I see them.
Philosophy: Progressives, by definition, means to believe in moderate political change, especially social improvement by governmental action. I think Progressives are on a bell curve like so many other things, from liberal to conservative. I am not unwavering hard left - there are issues where I move toward moderate, but I'm definitely liberal, so we should look at what liberal means. A liberal is open-minded or not strict in observing orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways.
To summarize my philosophy, I believe in moderate political change, especially in social improvement through measure government action. I believe in revisiting regulations to ensure they are still relevant to modern society. I'm open-minded and reject the notion that anything is written in stone, so to speak; everything can be improved.
An example is our Constitution. Some people call themselves Constitutional fundamentalists (CFs for short), much like religious fundamentalists. The CFs believe the Constitution, written 250 years ago, to be infallible, the ultimate word governing a nation. There can be no argument that, for its time, our Constitution was and remains a fantastic document written by a group of brilliant people who, by the way, were in significant disagreement on many of the issues in that document which drove no shortage of compromises to get a document everyone would or could sign. This site offers an overview of the debate that would produce the final document with its original amendments. Inquiries.
We must understand that our Constitution and our democracy are living entities subject to change and must change and evolve just as our technology, society, and understanding of our human existence continue to evolve.
Here are a few examples of what I mean. Our current debate about the 2nd Amendment and all it is intended to imply occupies center stage as I write this in 2022. First of all, no one, and I mean no one, can know what was in the minds of the authors of our Constitution as they debated the right to bear arms. They lived in a very different time than we do. It is impossible to understand their emotions or feelings; we can only try to surmise what they wanted with that amendment.
We know that there were two schools of thought back then. Some feared a "standing army" under the federal government threatened freedom and democracy, as had been the case throughout Europe. These anti-federalists favored state militias made up of average citizens with weapons to deter any ideas the federal government might have about becoming a dictatorship.
Another camp wanted a national military to fight the British for our freedom. As it turned out, the state militias could not defeat the British, and the Constitutional Convention permitted a standing federal army to be assembled to fight for our freedoms, a decision that appears to have been correct.
The single purpose of the 2nd Amendment, a compromise to get everyone to move forward with ratifying our Constitution, was to assuage the fears of those opposed to a federal military army that the army might later become an instrument of the federal government for the oppression of the people.
Another thing we must look at in our 21st-century debate over the ownership of weapons is the context in which the founders wrote that 2nd Amendment. At the time, the weapons of war were The Brown Bess, a musket used by American troops that shot a cluster-style shot that had an effect similar to today's shotguns. There was also the Charleville musket, an American-made musket, the Pattern 1776 Rifle, Long Rifle, the Ferguson Rifle - one of the first breach loading rifles, and the Fusil, carried by British officers; these rifles were more accurate and lighter in weight than muskets.
In addition, there were pistols, swords, sabers, Spontoons (a kind of fancy spear), bows and arrows, and a variety of cannons as part of the artillery regiments of the armies involved in the Revolutionary War. Oh, and the first submarine used in war, called "The Turtle, had its debut in 1776.
I find it nearly impossible to believe that the founders intended for individuals to own and lug around large and small canons as part of their defense against a feared federal government transition from democracy to autocracy. And, I am sure that they could not begin to envision AR-15s and similar combat weapons or modern warfare armaments like tanks, fighter jets, missiles, nuclear bombs, submarines, aircraft carriers, and the like. And they certainly would not have wanted those weapons scattered around the nation, uncontrolled. They thought that with a population of 2,148,076 in 1770 and a goodly number of them armed with muskets, no government in their right mind would challenge the people by trying to overturn our democracy. That truth holds today without arming our citizens as if they were in the regular military.
Think about it. Our military, the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy have jet fighters, missiles, unbelievable artillery, and a navy second to none. Even if we all had AR-15s, we would be helpless against the military might of our combined forces if we were to start another revolutionary war. No politician in their right mind would presume to change our democracy to a dictatorship, although #45 seemed to have that in mind.
We have 330 million people in the U.S. Estimates place gun ownership between 200 and 350 million guns. Most of those are pistols and hunting weapons like deer rifles, etc. That is all the deterrent needed to keep a rogue government at bay. While the U.S. military could bomb the crap out of the whole of the U.S., similar to what Russia is doing in Ukraine, they would never "win" that war. When it ended, they would have millions and millions of destitute war refugees on their hands, an economy in shambles, a nation reduced to rubble, and be faced with decades of trying to rebuild the country. What possible benefit could anyone in government think there would be in mounting a military operation against our entire nation?
Okay, I went on a bit about the whole gun argument, partly because it is a central issue but also to make a point. As a Progressive, I try to think openly and critically about our society and the process of seeking solutions to our problems. I don't simply set back and point to something that was written 250 years ago by admittedly brilliant people but is steeped in the obsolescence of thought and technology of the time the document was written.
This same approach to looking at our modern society and all that we have learned and the technological progress over the last 250 years should apply to the other issues we face as we seek answers. Women's rights, civil rights, LBGTQ+ rights, climate change, the environment, and equality in every walk of life for everyone residing inside our borders.
All of this has to be viewed through the lens of the second decade of the 21st century, not through the lens of 1776; there is simply no equivalency there.
Our friends on the conservative side of the aisle resist change. They seem to fight every effort to look at a new world, new science, and new understandings of the people and the animals with whom we share this planet. They seem to prefer to look backward for past solutions instead of applying the knowledge we have today. I do believe we have to have people challenge change at every step. That is the crucible for trying to do the right thing. Science is based on that principle; question everything new and ensure that it is as correct as you can. But, that does not appear to be what the conservatives are about. They erect roadblocks to change or walk away and refuse to work as a team toward a solution.
That is what I see as the main difference between we Progressives and most conservatives. And that is why I not only prefer to be a Progressive, but I am proud to be in that camp.