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How Progressives and Liberals are Different

Progressives, as liberals did before Reagan, emphasize doing the most for the most – which is how we got socio-economic programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and a minimum wage. Today’s liberals favor expanding health insurance company profits over expanding Medicare and strongly support Democratic presidents who undermine the very programs that earlier liberals created such as social welfare and Social Security.

Progressives don’t act like prudes and prigs.

Progressives don’t think the commerce clause of the Constitution should be used just because you feel like doing something, such as avoiding single payer health insurance. There is a huge difference between using the commerce clause to guarantee human rights and using it to subsidize health insurance companies.

Progressives recognize the Green Party and its members as part of a broad coalition. Most liberals act as though Greens were a new kind of HIV.

Progressives try to convince people with whom they disagree, not just scold them.

Progressive oppose the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq; liberals like them as long as a Democratic president is running them.

Progressives oppose the war on drugs, America’s most masochistic and deadly battle since Vietnam. Liberals treat it with utter indifference.

Progressives believe what people do is more important than how politely they talk about it.

Progressives don’t think you should have to go to grad school to have an important role in government.

Progressives respect state and local government; liberals often act like they’re a Republican plot. Progressives understand the importance of the devolution of power to the lowest practical level.

Progressives worry about locked doors, liberals about glass ceilings, which is why liberals thought Obama’s election would create a post-racial society.Too many liberals are infatuated with symbolism such as electing a black president, while ignoring the real problems most minorities face in everything from the job market to dealing with the law.

Even progressives who don’t own guns respect the right of others to do. Besides, why piss them off the way liberals have done, when they could be allies on a host of other issues, beginning with civil liberties.

But then, progressives still defend civil liberties. Liberals seem to have forgotten about them and ignore Obama’s abuse of them.

Progressives pursue issues; liberals support candidates.

Progressives don’t give up an issue just because the candidate they voted for is now in office and opposes it.

Liberals love Clinton and Obama while despising the Bushes who preceded them. They don’t seem to notice that our government continued to move to the right under both Democrats and that neither repealed any significant policies of their GOP predecessors

Progressives don’t think bailing out banks is an economic stimulus, but that helping to create jobs and stop foreclosures is.

Progressives support local public schools and their teachers; liberals go along with the Bush-Obama attack on public education.

Progressives are not afraid of criticizing Israel for its abusive treatment of Palestine. Liberals either support Israel’s criminal actions or are afraid of being called anti-Semites so don’t say anything.

Progressives have new ideas; liberals come up with new compromises with the right.

Progressives believe that change is produced by broad coalitions brought together on specific issues, but not necessarily agreeing on all policy. Liberals believe change will come when everyone acts like they do.

SAM SMITH is the editor of the Progressive Review, where this column originally appeared.

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Sam Smith edits the Progressive Review.

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