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What is Progressive Politics

Updated on April 11, 2013

Ways to Help People

Helping people is a Progressive characteristic
Helping people is a Progressive characteristic | Source

Party Politics

Here in the United States of America we have two main political parties. On the left side of the political aisle we have Democrats and on the right side we have Republicans. Sometimes the distance between these two parties can be the root of controversy even though deep down inside we are all Americans.

The term “progressive” typically refers to the beliefs held on the Democratic side of politics; the word itself can be described in a few different ways. Change, reform, improvement or an opposition to maintaining things as they are can all be associated with progressive politics.

With the phrases used by everyone who talks politics it can be difficult to truly understand what side, or movement, is actually being discussed.

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Political Terminology

If you pay any attention to politics the words progressive and liberal are used quite often, unfortunately both seem to be referenced in negative connotations because people do not agree with the political positions shared by progressives or liberals. As I shared earlier the word progressive is not a bad word based on what the dictionary says. The word liberal has also gotten a bad rap by how people use it in the political world because liberal can be described as being unprejudiced, charitable or even generous; nothing scary in any of those definitions in my opinion.

Progressive Movements

Progressives believe in a sort of equality for all; they believe that the government has a role in this equality. There has been a bunch of debate about this position because the Republican side of the aisle usually feels that the government should have as small of a role as possible in our lives.

Where the two sides really butt heads is when either political party feels that their foundation is being eroded. Republicans will get upset when they think the government has overstepped its bounds and Democrats will be unhappy when they see the government not doing enough. It is just a piece of the fundamental differences between the two parties.

Economic Growth Rate

Obviously the economy has been a big topic of discussion because of the recession that started back in 2007. Much of the debating has been focused on how the recession started and what steps should be taken to fix the problems. Progressives expect the government to participate in addressing economic problems, if they can assist in anyway.

Auto Bailout

An example of this was the auto bailout bill that was drafted by the Democratic House of Representatives and Congress, which was then signed into law by President George W. Bush back in late 2008. Many Progressives argued the need for this bill to save General Motors and Chrysler from certain demise. The other side of the political aisle was content with allowing these two auto manufacturers to go away and negatively affect an already hurting economy. Progressives understood that the loans might never be repaid fully but that was an acceptable sacrifice when the alternative was both of these companies, the auto dealerships and the parts suppliers they contracted with all suffering substantial loses or closing their doors.

The Center for Automotive Research released a report near the end of 2010 stating that the bailout bill saved more than one million jobs. Personally I do not want to think about how our economy would have continued its free-fall if another million Americans hit the unemployment ranks at the same time.

Health Reform Act

Much has been said about the Affordable Health Care for America act, or Obamacare, and its constitutionality as well as if the majority of Americans really want it. The Progressive position has been one of support because of the recognition that millions of Americans do not have health insurance. Many people admit that preventative costs are much more affordable than major costs down the road. A similar comparison is how much it costs to go to the doctor for a routine checkup versus a visit to the emergency room. If you were one of the millions with no insurance you had no choice but to wait until a small issue became a big one and led to an emergency room visit.

Personal Tax Rates, and the Buffett Rule

A big Progressive position right now is getting all Americans to pay what they should be paying in taxes. A point of contention is the dividend tax, which is 15%. With so many millionaires getting substantial portions of their income through stock dividends they are, at the end of the day, paying a small portion of their income to taxes.

The Buffet Rule came into play when Warren Buffet made a speech declaring that he actually paid a smaller percentage of taxes than his secretary did. Mr. Buffet pays a larger overall sum than his secretary but the debate has been going on regarding the percentage.

Millionaire Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a good example of the system rewarding people with large amounts of financial resources. According to his 2010 and 2011 tax returns Romney earned around forty-two million dollars in those two years but only paid six million dollars in taxes; simple math shows us that his tax rate was just over 14%. In comparison my family of four, who almost grossed one hundred thousand in 2011, had a tax rate over 15%. Progressives feel that this isn’t part of everyone paying their fair share.

Government Welfare

Welfare, and who is eligible for welfare benefits, is another core Progressive position. Progressives believe welfare programs are essential to anyone who has fallen on tough times and needs that extra support. The opposition to welfare will claim that people on welfare are bums or too lazy to work; that is a very short sighted view of the people on these programs.

I had a disagreement with a Republican friend many years ago about welfare. He said that the Republican position was each person was responsible for any problems and needed to plan accordingly. I asked him what would happen if the only one working in the family was killed in a car accident one day, what would happen to that family if there were no welfare programs? His answer floored me, he said that was their problem and they should have had a contingency plan in place for such an emergency. The Progressive position is more along the lines of extending a hand to these families in need.

I will openly acknowledge that some people on welfare abuse the system. If it is acceptable to call them lazy, because they are taking advantage of the system, than I think the same opinion should apply to the people who work for corporate America who check Facebook, Twitter or their Fantasy Football team at work. They are getting paid to do a job and they are not working when they are doing these tasks right? If lazy is too tough of a word how about thief since they are getting paid to do their job and they aren’t doing it?

Political Progressive

These men and women get the “liberal” label and are dismissed because of their Progressive views. Knowing what we all know now about the word Progressive are these individuals really as bad as some people, and news channels, want us to believe or could they be just folks who have a different view on things?


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    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      ElizaDoole - Thanks for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed the examples.

    • ElizaDoole profile image

      Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

      Nice hub, I am glad to see an exposition of American politics and how the parties interact. Thanks for writing, it was very well organised and I liked the examples.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      roxanne459 - thanks for reading; I'm glad my thoughts came through effectively.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      ImKarn23 - It is very sad to see how our elected officials go about their business, it is like watching kids fight on a school playground.

      I'm flattered that you would think I should run for office but I don't think I could do it. First my mouth usually works before my brain does, I'm sure that would get me into trouble. Second I have a few animals in my yard that we have to cleanup after and I have learned I don't want to deal with anymore manure than I have too!

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Very well put! Political discussions are like those of religion, they always end up getting over run with emotion and raised voices. You have explained the progressive view and the differences of the two very articulately and fairly. Personally I really enjoyed the parody between people milking the welfare system and employee's stealing time from their employers! You are absolutely right! Thanks for writing this.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      Politics at odds? The chasm is so vast i wonder if anything can ever be accomplished again! It's almost as if the terrorists won - with the nation bickering and at each other's throats constantly! Your hub puts it into perspective (if such a thing is possible)- and your points are stated plainly and clearly well researched!

      You know what you're talking about - maybe YOU should be running...sigh..

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      picklesandrufus - I'm not a fan of the debt either and someone is really going to have to address it and soon. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about healthcare since I had to have some surgery. The pain was not only in the recovery but in the costs too!

      I agree with your reasoning about not being a Republican, I'm in the same boat.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      timetraveler2 - thank you for the compliment. I agree that people get too crazy about some of the issues we are all facing. I really do appreciate the passion but it can be expressed in the wrong ways.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      leros003 - I hope people just do a little bit of research on the candidates and find the one that shares the same views. If people would just weed through all of the talking points we are subjected to we would all have a better understanding on who we are voting for.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Marcy - thanks and I'm glad you liked it. This piece really challenged me, and I enjoyed it!

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Very interesting hub. The political wars have already started and soon they will be inundating the airwaves. I don't like our country being in so much debt, but I will always believe everyone should have the right to basic healthcare, and as flawed as welfare/foodstamps may be,they are needed and necessary. I also believe the wealthy should pay taxes at the same percentage rate as the middle class. Therefore, I will never be a republican. Nice work.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 5 years ago from USA

      Articles like this are why I follow you! Too many people have gone too far with their feelings about all of the issues you mention. There needs to be some middle ground, some compassion and some understanding. It's too bad man people don't feel as you do or have the ability to express those feelings in such an objective way.

    • leros003 profile image

      leros003 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Very interesting. I have never thought of it in this approach

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      This is a very thoughtfully constructed hub - I like the contrasts you show in the approaches by 'opposing' factions. It will be interesting to see where the coming elections take us as a country.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.