The Difference Between Liberal and Progressive–Huh?

David Sirota writes a piece that I just don’t understand, asking what the difference is between a liberal and a progressive. A simplistic reading of the piece leads me to believe that a liberal is someone who doesn’t agree with Sirota’s view of the party. The core of the distinction:

It seems to me that traditional “liberals” in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A “progressive” are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.

It seems like the only current parlance he is talking about is his own. “Liberals” in this country have waged a long, often lonely fight to do just the things he is talking about. Liberals have been voices against pharmaceutical fraud, against media consolidation, and for health care for all Americans. They have proposed both innovative solutions that require increased sacrifices by average Americans and large corporations.

Fundamentally, I agree with the broad point of the article: the Democratic Party does seem absolutely unwilling to consider a policy that would challenge the unbelievable power of corporations in the U.S. They are just as drunk as Republicans on corporate money. To suggest, however, that this is a distinction between “liberal” and “progressive” is absurd. Those are meaningless labels that these politicians can throw around themselves and run away from for the sake of convenience.

We on the Left need to stop running away from the word liberal and start defining positions that we stand for. If we continue to let the word liberal be demonized, won’t progressive just be next?

Don’t put me in your progressive box. I am a liberal.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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