[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Who Are The True Progressives?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who Are The True Progressives?

Here's an interesting letter to the editor published in the Miami Herald op-ed page today.

Liberalism misunderstood

It's sad and ironic that lately, during each election cycle, we read and listen to people bad-mouthing Democrats and liberals. Liberalism is what made this country what it is. Our Constitution is a liberal one. To my Cuban compatriots, the 1940 Constitution we dream about is extremely liberal. Fidel Castro, the Iranians and most of the fundamentalist dictators of the world, are conservatives because they want to maintain the status quo.

Most people who call themselves conservative have little idea what it means. Being a conservative means not changing anything, while progressives are open to change and new ideas. Without progressives, we would still be in the Middle Ages.


Don't stop with just the liberals being misunderstood, Mr. Rodriguez. How many times have you heard conservatives bashed as simple-minded, ignorant, intolerant boors? And not just during election cycles either.

On to what I want to discuss regarding the labels we use to describe someone's views.

Let's address liberalism first. According to the Houghton Mifflin online dictionary, liberalism is defined as: A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.

Mr. Rodriguez is right, the basic values that this country upholds are traditionally liberal. Liberalism at its core is a good thing. I have a healthy respect for traditional liberals, whom I like to refer to as old-school liberals, because they uphold these values. They also understand the need to use force in order to defend oneself, or the country as a whole. In other words, they do what they have to do to keep our basic values intact.

What I just describes sounds a lot like most conservatives, right?

It's no coincidence. Conservatism, as defined by Houghton-Mifflin, is:
  1. The inclination, especially in politics, to maintain the existing or traditional order.
  2. A political philosophy or attitude emphasizing respect for traditional institutions, distrust of government activism, and opposition to sudden change in the established order.
There are obvious differences between liberalism and conservatism, but they are more similarities than one might think. I find that a lot of the old-school liberals end up becoming conservatives, mainly in that they want to maintain the traditional liberal values that founded this great nation of ours.

Speaking of conservatives, there are quite a few who don't live up to the traditional values that conservatives are supposed to uphold. At worst, they discriminate and exclude certain groups and ideas merely for being different from the values they believe in.

The above paragraph can be used to say the exact same thing about many liberals today. This is of course a huge contradiction from what liberalism is supposed to be, but that's what's becoming increasingly common in mainstream political liberalism today. I can't begin to tell you how many times this conservative was ridiculed and talked down to leading up to the 2004 elections by liberals who are supposed to be tolerant and compassionate. They couldn't tolerate someone with different views, at least not without being condescending and downright rude. Yes, conservatives can be nasty as well, but this observer saw it much more coming from the left than from the right in personal interaction. Disagree if you wish.

I won't elaborate on some of the actions taken by liberal activists and "civil liberty" groups such as the ACLU to ensure that mainstream conservative thought and ideas be suppressed as much as possible.

The bottom line is, Mr. Rodriguez is right in pointing out that some conservatives have lost sight of what it really means to be a conservative. What he fails to point out is that the exact same can be said of liberals and true liberalism. Mr. Rodriguez also incorrectly assumes that liberals are naturally progressive in nature. True progression transcends liberalism and conservatism. It has more to do with using good sense and compassion in order to judiciously determine what needs to be changed for the good of all, and what should remain the same to ensure order and civility. That's what moves society forward, not change for the sake of change and at the expense of others.


Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

I agree completely. The dictionary definition of liberal is what most Americans view as their personal ideology. But the so-called liberals of today do not believe in the innate goodness of people. They think the state needs to get involved because without supervision humans will destroy each other. Certainly the state has a role to play but conservatives feel that that role should be of a lesser extent.

5:02 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger El Guardia Rural said...

I think the problem of Liberalism and its proponents is that they end up in the Anti-American camp. They join the chorus of our nations' enemies in their criticisms. They hate our military, private porperty rights, the right to bear arms, and economic liberty. What I dislike most about them is that they think the government should solve everyones problems. Look at the result of Liberalism in New Orleans. Many people are still waiting on their porches for the government to fix their homes. You don't hear about this from other Gulf Coast States.

5:37 PM, August 25, 2006  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I think we are better off using labels as little as possible, and instead looking at people's actual arguments.

Some of the people who call themselves liberals are liberals in the old sense, but a lot of them these days are really socialists, and some are close to being fascists (e.g., the anti-globalization people). At the same time, a lot of so-called conservatives might more reasonably be called classical liberals.

6:08 PM, August 25, 2006  

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