It’s funny how some fleeting thing is rolling around in your brain, not quite taking form, for days and then out of nowhere, it coalesces into an actual thought. Kind of a two plus two moment. Yesterday, when I saw Zach’s post about the piss poor Abele campaign mailing, painting Chris Larson as no Bernie Sanders, I had one of those moments…about Progressives and what it means to truly be one. Progressive is a term that is bandied about by many, many politicians….everyone from the Presidential candidates on down to your local government. It’s used so often that it has seemingly lost all meaning…what does being Progressive really mean? Most folks would tell you that it is a capital L liberal. Others might be more literal and say that it means those who belonged to the Progressive Party, like Teddy Roosevelt and Fighting Bob LaFollette. In my quest to define the concept of being Progressive, I turned to the dictionary (the Free Dictionary online, to be precise) and found this:
1. Moving forward; advancing.
2. Proceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments: progressive change.
3. Open to or favoring new ideas, policies, or methods: a progressive politician; progressive business leadership.
4. Progressive Of or relating to a Progressive Party: the Progressive platform of 1924.
5. Of or relating to progressive education: a progressive school.
6. Increasing in rate as the taxable amount increases: a progressive income tax.
7. Tending to become more severe or wider in scope: progressive paralysis.
8. Grammar Designating a verb form that expresses an action or condition in progress.
9. Music Of or being a style that emphasizes virtuoso technique, rhythmic and melodic complexity, and unconventional forms and imstrumentation: progressive rock; progressive jazz.
1. A person who is open to or favors new ideas, policies, or methods, especially in politics.
2. Progressive A member or supporter of a Progressive Party.
3. Grammar A progressive verb form.
To be truly Progressive, you must be for “new ideas, policies, or methods.” Unfortunately, in 2016 Progressives are still fighting for pretty much the same things as they did in the 1920’s—social safety nets, universal healthcare, minimum wage, removal of money from politics, and so forth. By that measure, true Progressives are few and far between. On a national level, Bernie Sanders is pretty much it. Maybe Russ Feingold. Maybe. It is time that all the others, especially on the local level, stop claiming that they are Progressive. They are not. If all you are doing is putting one foot in front of the other and propelling yourself forward, you are not Progressive. If you are taking money from Wall Street and Corporations, you are not Progressive. If you are backing the status quo against the People, you are not Progressive. The popularity of Bernie Sanders proves that America is receptive to the Progressive message. We need true Progressives and we need them now. The time has come.