Thursday, July 12, 2012

Progressives and Regressives

Yesterday, in a short blogpost, Robert Reich put American politics and our own politics in perspective. The real battle, he wrote, is not between Liberals and Conservatives. It is between Progressives and Regressives:

Regressives want to take this nation backward — to before Social Security, unemployment insurance, and Medicare; before civil rights and voting rights; before regulations designed to protect the environment, workers, consumers, and investors. They want to sabotage much of what this nation has achieved over the last century. And they’re out to do it by making the rich far richer, turning Americans against one another in competition for a smaller and smaller slice of the pie, substituting private morality for public morality, and opening the floodgates to big money in politics. 

Progressivism in the United States emerged as a response to the Robber Barons and the Gilded Age. It was all about returning government to "we, the people." Progressives, Reich wrote,

are determined to take this nation forward — toward equal opportunity, tolerance and openness, adequate protection against corporate and Wall Street abuses, and an economy and democracy that are working for all of us. 

His blogpost is accompanied by a video clip. It is much different than the recently released NDP ad. It's worth a look.


thwap said...

It's not a bad video. It's too long for a television commercial though, so the comparison isn't entirely accurate.

What's really sad is that he imagines a vote for Obama is going to save those progressive achievements.

Obama is as big an enemy of Social Security as they've produced in a long while.

Owen Gray said...

I've been reading Chris Hedges lately, thwap, and he is no fan of the Obama administration.

But it's a case of pick your poison. At least Reich puts things in a larger context.

It's not just about one political party or another. It's about programs and policies -- and who is willing to support those programs and policies.

thwap said...

Of course it's not about one party or another. BOTH US parties are enemies.

Reich's context is fine. It's whether the values and accomplishments of progressivism will be served, or not, by voting against Romney and for Obama.

In that case, he's wrong. I'm literally torn over whether the Repugs or the dems are the greater enemy. The Repugs will gleefully smash things, but the Dems will pinch-hit. And sometimes, as with "welfare reform" under Clinton, get away with shit the Repugs couldn't dream of.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to phrase your thesis a different way: we're not seeing a battle between the "progressives" and "regressives" but one more battle between the haves and have-nots, an uninterrupted battle that began when the first cavemen quarreled over which of them should have the prettiest stones in the cave, and what measures should be taken to guarantee that possession. What's been happening since, wrapped in corporate language and complex government initiatives, is the same primitive stuff.

Owen Gray said...

You're right, thwap. If there's any hope at all, our leaders will be swayed by progressive anger -- assuming there are enough progressives to make them alter their plans.

It happened with R.B. Bennett. Let's hope it happens again.

Owen Gray said...

And like thwap, you too are right, Anon. This battle is as old as the human race.

From the very beginning, there have always been those who have wished to make life, in Hobbes' phrase, "nasty, brutish and short."

The purpose of government, he argued, was to ensure that such was not the case.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Sadly, there are few progressive politicians in the US.. . .and Obama is not one of them. There may be others but they lack the courage to put foward progessive policies and stand up against the personal and political attachs by the well funded regressive forces.

After say all that I still think that the majority of Americans are far more progressive than the politicians. It may take general stikes, direct action, civil disobedience and rioting in the streets to make their point.

Owen Gray said...

It's been forty-five years since Americans have filled the streets to protest government policies in massive numbers, Philip.

Many Americans have forgotten those protests. Some were not born yet.

But we may see that kind of direct action again.