What In Tarnation is a Progressive anyways?

Maine Desert - Created by good intentions gone bad
Maine Desert – Created by good intentions gone bad

BRADFROMSALEM

We in America all talk of how we have a two-party system. Many persons disappointed in the current state of affairs have expressed a desire for a third-party.  Usually they want the third-party because “neither party is for the people”, or “they’re all a bunch of crooks”, and “it don’t matter who I vote for, they are all the same”.  All true statements, but only partly. Our present election system indirectly encourages office seekers and officeholders to put the interest of the people low on their priority list, it allows for unsavory legal and outright illegal deals to be made, and both of the two major parties have created a political infrastructure where you either sing the same song or don’t sing at all. But inside all the noise, there is a lot more going on and America is not really divided into two. We are not just either a Democrat or a Republican, a Liberal or a Conservative; or any of the tiny and not tiny offshoots of those four major alignments. What is unusual is that with negligible exceptions the Democrats have all the Liberals in their tent, and the Republicans have all the Conservatives. In the past, each party consisted of a coalitions of other groups along the political Right to Left spectrum. Not anymore. Right are Conservative Republicans, and Left are Liberal Democrats.

But as I noted, there used to be Republican Liberals. And most notably, the Republican Party under Teddy Roosevelt created the modern Progressive movement.  Progressives were and are a liberal faction that places as it highest goal the supremacy of the individual person.  This is similar and yet the opposite of the Objectivists, AKA the followers of Ayn Rand’s Libertarianism. The key difference between Progressives and the Objectivists is simply a question of how the supremacy is defined and how it is accomplished.  The Objectivists believe each individual is solely responsible for their accomplishments and that means in the Objectivists worldview that the more an individual achieves is an indicator of how much better or worse that individual is as compared to others.  A Progressive on the other hand believes that individual supremacy occurs when all persons are helped, guided, and encouraged to achieve whatever they are best at. This requires that our social mores and government (communal) actions are all biased toward the goal of each person achieving their individual supremacy. Objectivists are a special case of Conservative and Progressives are a special case of Liberals.

But beyond the individual person’s achievements there is another even larger gap. Progressives do not recognize the supremacy or even the legitimacy of the artificial person known as corporations to overrule the supremacy of natural persons. Objectivists, see the corporation as a collection of persons.  The persons who run the corporations then use the corporation’s achievements to justify supremacy over other persons natural and artificial. It is a difference of perception, one which I personally choose the Progressive argument.

So here is the Turing test to see if a person is truly a Progressive.  Many Liberals and Progressives will agree on policy details, but there is a big, huge, difference that will steer the decision-making once they have achieved public office. The test is an answer to a simple question. Do you believe that we, as a society, can achieve our loftiest ambitions by allowing corporations and it’s representative Natural Persons to have any say in our laws and regulations? Any person that answers ‘yes’ is not a Progressive.

 

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