7 replies on “Virginia political podcast.”

  1. Could someone explain to me what the difference is between a liberal and a progressive?

    After 2004, I had always assumed progressive to be a euphemism for a liberal who didn’t want to be called “liberal” anymore. Same product, different packaging so to speak.

  2. The term “progressive” to describe a political philosophy goes back 100 years. I perceive the most important difference between the two as being that “liberalism” describes a region on the political spectrum, while “progressivism” attempts to summarize those who hold a common set of ideas, rather than ideals. See Wikipedia’s entry for more information.

  3. Liberals believe that money can cure social problems. Progressives believe that the power of government is the only force that can protect people from corporate power and the emerging American aristocracy. Conservatives think that government should be as weak as possible so that corporate power can grow unrestrained.

    The best example I can think of offhand is the Medicare bill. Written by liberals, it would have given away as many drugs as possible. Written by progressives, it would have used government power to enforce the lowest prices possible. Written by Conservatives, it’s a trillion dollar giveaway to big-Pharma and a nightmare for the elderly.

  4. Not so sure either one of those explanations is really explanatory, as progressivism could be a subset of any political philosophy (progressive liberalism, progressive conservativism, progressive Nazism?) or such a wide third way that all Americans could naturally be described as progressive for want of allowing either extreme.

    Josh, I disagree with the summary you have for natural reasons: liberalism is not socialism, nor is conservativism a tool of aristocracy. Liberalism in my view argues for the progressive position of government regulation to provide fairness and equality (Rawls’ ideas on justice for example), while conservativism in America reflects the values of Main Street (Russell Kirk – government protects society and society’s values and nothing else).

    Progressivism was barely mentioned pre-2004 as a third way, until the liberal backbone was shattered twice.

    I keep hearing the term “progressive” used, but it either seems as if it’s code for old-style 60’s liberalism, or the definition becomes so broad that it could fit any present ideology (humanism, libertarianism, etc.) Drawing back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt just doesn’t seem like a good explanation to me, because many of the ethics of the era were acheived to one degree or another.

  5. Well, I’d hardly say that “the liberal backbone was shattered” in 2000. The loss in 2004 was slight enough that it wasn’t exactly shattering, either.

    I’ve been going through the first 70 years of issues of Virginia Quarterly Review for the past few months, and I’ve noticed that a constant is articles about progressivism. Though there was definitely a particularly large number in the days of Roosevelt, but articles about it have been a constant. There was one article back in the early days — the 50s maybe? — about how liberals were describing themselves as “progressive” to escape the label. Everything old is new again. :) If I come across the article again, I’ll be certain to send it to you.

  6. I’d be interested in that article. I may have to start subscribing to VQR — the local bookstore just doesn’t get it in fast enough (I’m hooked – it’s good stuff).

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