En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/18/1050

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January 18, 2009 10:50 AM - Mike

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Yes, liberalism is essentially progressive, and most liberals (though not all) tend towards progressivity.

I will second that notion. On the whole, liberals tend to be more progressive in the sense that they are more actively seeking change. (Of course, as I think I stated earlier, I believe that this leads to a tendency to advocate change just for the sake of change, a kind of norm-boredom, and I wouldn’t say the change is always good change, but that’s a separate issue). I will also state the unspoken corollary which is that on the whole conservatives tend to advocate less change in the moving-forward way and tend to be more romantic in their notions that past norms were fine.

As you seem to indicate when you say, “It is possible for a conservative approach to lead to [what I would call] progress,” there are some circumstances, however rare in your view, where conservatives DO offer ‘progressive’ solutions that move us forward. Obviously there are caveats, which you also mention, just like there are caveats to liberal ‘progressivism’ as well. I think I see a bit less true liberal progressivism than you do and I’m quite sure that you see far less conservative progressivism than I do and that is 100% okay with me. My main goal with my blog and for the growing group of self-styled ‘progressive conservatives’ that I have met is that we want just want the Left to be open to the idea that there are conservatives who are seeking change that is not based on just hitting the rewind button.

If I could look into my crystal ball and predict one possible counter-argument that you might bring up, which is that self-perceived ‘progressive conservatives’ are really just extremely moderate liberals….I think that would be a valid point. A lot of us have struggled with that notion ourselves. I guess it’s all about where we draw the line on the diagram I advocated above. We consider ourselves conservatives because we think the answers to many of our social ills don’t always lie with the new, but often in a rethinking of the old.

Regarding the ‘traditional’ school model… I am not contending that this is the perfect model and the pinnacle of conservative policy making. What I am suggesting is that by selecting some conservative elements of what worked in the past in public schools (teaching citizenship and patriotism), taking conservative elements from private and parochial schools (basic curriculum, uniforms and strong discipline) and by also using some modern liberal teaching techniques and technology…a system has been created that works well. I also understand that down the road we could just as easily have an extremely liberal charter school that achieves as well or better. The point is that both approaches are progressive and forward-thinking, yet are rooted in two separate ideologies.

This scenario exists in a lot of other areas.

If you want some good info on the New Deal I would suggest reading the 75th anniversary series at NewGeography.com.


The New Deal was indeed a liberal program at the time, but by modern liberal standards I think it would be considered hopelessly quaint and too conservative in its expectations for the recipients of aid. I think this was also the perception under Johnson and the Great Society as well.

Re: Abortion

You are correct that I don't see a fetus in the first trimester as a person. The brain has only just barely begun ticking over at the end of the first trimester (week 12), and it's extremely doubtful that it is capable of anything resembling thinking or feeling at that point.

So then why are you so offended by the notion that abortion is used as ‘birth control’ i.e preventing unwanted births to happen? I think in light of your feelings on first trimester abortions then you would be completely okay with abortion being part of the family-planning tool-kit.