Tea Party talk show host Glenn Beck recently labeled progressivism a cancer that must be cut out of America. I challenge that statement.
There are many sides to most important issues but for some of these the progressive side and the conservative side are an easy way to think about them. By "conservatism"and"progressivism" I mean the current meaning of those words as found on Wilkopedia. See bottom of this article for the current (10-26-2010 definitions.
Progressivism is, of course, a subset of "liberalism" which, in turn, is a subset of "left." It also encompasses many independents as well as some Republicans. And some Democrats are fairly characterized as anything but progessive.
To begin with, let me point out that it was the conservative Greek city fathers that killed Socrates. And also that it was the conservative Pharisees and Scribes that had Jesus executed! But let me get more up to date:
1. Had the conservatives (Tories) prevailed in the late 1700s, we'd be singing "God Save the Queen."
2. Had Thomas Jefferson's conservative advisers won the day, he would not have signed the Louisiana Purchase and today the USA would be a small country on the east coast.
3. Had the conservatives prevailed in the 1860s, we might still have (eventually) eliminated slavery, but we would be, today, two nations.
4. Had conservatism dominated in the 1890s, big business and a two-class system, based on family wealth and monopolies, would be our lot today. One may argue that with the rich gaining an ever increasing percentage of the nation's wealth,we may be on that path again.
5. Conservatives in the early 1900s opposed progressive Teddy Roosevelt's proposals at almost every turn. For instance, had conservatives been successful in keeping large tracts of land in private hands, we would have no national parks today. (This appears to be the first use of the word "progressive)
6. Progressives won in 1919, else women would still not be able to vote and would still be considered as the property of their nearest male relative.
7. If the conservatives had won the 1928 election, we would have suffered a great depression, with bank closings and 25% unemployment Oh -- I forgot -- they DID win that election!
8. The conservatives fought against Social Security in the 1930s.
9. Had the conservatives (isolationists) persuaded the U. S. electorate to vote their way in 1940, Europe today would be groaning under the Nazi flag.
10. Had the conservatives had their way in 1945, the Marshall Plan would not have been implemented. "Can't afford it," they said. They lost. Thousands of lives were saved.
11. Harry Truman integrated the military in 1943. Conservatives were generally opposed, on the basis that would destroy military cohesion.
12. Remember Governor Faubus? He was a conservative. So was George Wallace. But the KKK, paramilitary groups and the John Birch Society should not be seen as conservatives; they are more fairly seen as fascists.
13. Had conservatives prevailed in the 1960s, segregation and Jim Crow laws would still be in effect in many places. Bull Conners is, ttoday, a stain on American history.
14. In September 1987, President Reagan's conservative advisors urged him NOT to sign the Montreal Treaty, which phased out ozone-depleting chemicals. "It will hurt the economy," they said, ignoring the liklihood that if not done the economy wmight crater in later years. Reagan, to his credit, ignored them.
15. Had conservatives won the debate in 2003, we would have entered into a vast, expensive, unfunded war overseas and pretty much ignored the real enemy in Afghanistan. Oops. That really did happen.
16. In 2008 a bipartisan coalition passed the $700 billion "bank bailout" plan. Then President George W. Bush signed it into law. Many conservatives are opposed to it, even today in 2010. By the way, only 388 billion of the 700 were ever used, and as of late 2010, about 288 of that have been returned. Current estimates are that the final bill, which averted a 1930s like depression, will be about 50 billion.
17. Today, in 2012, conservatives still deny the reality of climate change, unimpresses by the fact (they may be ignoring it) that the scientific evidence for it is overwhelming. They are a threat to our future; they have already doomed us to centuries of extreme heat, violent weater patterns, and an ocean level several feet higher than today. Say "goodbye" to Galveston; there is now no saving it, There IS time to mitigate the consequences -- somewhat. Doing nothing means at least 10 to 20 feet higher than today -- say "goodbye" to San Diego, New York Harbor, the Netherlands, and a long list of coastal communities. Say "goodbye" to the farmlands of the plains, to Phoenix, possibly to Houston, and other communities. 18. Oh yes -- Joe McCarthy was a conservative.
Mr. Beck says that "progressivism is America's cancer." He is welcome to his uninformed opinion. I don't know why anyone should care.
John (Derfloss) Spode, 10-28-2010 (revised 4-27-12). Comments on this essay are welcome at DSpode@Gmail.com.
I will try to respond to those offered in a civil manner. Permission is given to anyone to copy/distribute/modify this article it -- I hold no copyright.
Conservatism (Latin: conservare, "to preserve")is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were." I do not include fundamentalism or military dictorships in the definition; these are somewhat to the right of Atilla the Hun.
Progressivism is a political attitude favoring or advocating changes or reform. It is often viewed as opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies. The Progressive Movement began in cities with settlement workers and reformers who were interested in helping those facing harsh conditions at home and at work. The reformers spoke out about the need for laws regulating tenement housing and child labor. They also called for better working conditions for women. Attributes of progressives are (from the Latin liberalis, "of freedom") is the belief in the importance of individual liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas as constitutions, liberal democracy, freedom of speech, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, free trade, and the separation of church and state.Most object to the domination of a culture by large bussiness, hence their oposition to monopolies, particularly those state sponsored.
Both conservatives and progressivism take the US Constition seriously, are patriotic, revere the American flag, sing with equal gusto at baseball games the National anthem.
GE's corparate motto was, for years, "Progress is our most important product." For me, that motto symbolized America. It still does.
Thanks to several who have commented on this article, and made it better.
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