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Progressive Issues for Progressive Democrats
"Health care is a fundamental right." (Ted Kennedy, 8/26/08)
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The Progressive Platform Project

The Progressive Platform Project

by: poligirl

Thu Nov 11, 2010 at 18:00:38 PM EST

Welcome to the Progressive Platform Project!

In the past few months, there have been a lot of discussions in the media and on the blogs about what a progressive is. Many, especially in the media, are of the opinion that a progressive is the same thing as a liberal. But is that really the case? Chris Matthews considers himself a liberal. The DLC folks consider themselves liberal. Most Democrats consider themselves liberal. But are those folks progressive?

Is a progressive the exact same thing as a liberal? If not, what is a progressive? And better yet, what does a progressive, in this day and age, stand for?

These last questions are ones that we will be answering over the course of the next several months while we draft our Progressive Platform.

poligirl :: The Progressive Platform Project
This process is going to take a while, as we go slowly through each plank. This forming of a coherent platform will be dependent on your input in the comment section each week. I am hoping that there will be suggestions and robust discussions; there may even be some (civil) arguments. The end result of this little project of ours will be a Progressive Platform that we, as progressives, can use as a yardstick for supporting and endorsing candidates. We will use it here at Progressive Blue for the 2012 elections, and anyone is welcome to use it as they see fit.

In this inaugural post, we'll briefly explore platforms.

When many people think about platforms, the first thing they think of is party platforms. From Wikipedia:

A party platform, also known as a manifesto, is a list of the actions which a political party supports in order to appeal to the general public for the purpose of having said party's candidates voted into office. This often takes the form of a list of support for, or opposition to, controversial topics. Individual topics are often called planks of the platform.

Each major political party in the United States has drafted a platform since 1840. The American Presidency Project via the University of California, Santa Barbara has a great page with links to all of those platforms.

But platforms don't necessarily have to be directly affiliated with a party; they can also be movement manifestos. Again, from Wikipedia:

A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.

With this platform, we are not looking to purposefully create a new party; we simply would like to have a formal platform for progressives - something we can use as a yardstick to measure candidates and policies. Something between a party platform and a manifesto; it need not be particularly specific in individual policies, nor does it need to be overly broad. This platform can be however broad or specific as we all decide. I'm sure in the end, it will have some specific policy areas and some more broadly defined principles as well.

So this first week, we have some homework exploration to do. Check out the various party platforms to get an idea of what kinds of things go into a platform. Also, you can check out democrats.org, which has a section titled "What We Stand For".

We will begin dealing with planks next week. What planks do you want to see addressed in the platform? Below in the poll, which is multi-choice, I have put a standard list of possible planks for our platform. Please vote for the planks you think should be the most important in our platform. Please limit your votes to 5 planks and  next week we will start coming up with the order in which we address each plank.

This diary is cross-posted at Daily Kos, Open Salon, MyDD, docudharma, and Open Left.  

What planks are the most important to you (please limit to 5 choices):
civil rights
environment/energy independence
fair elections/campaign finance reform
health care
immigration reform
transparency in government
national security
social justice
other named below


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If one can explain their view, it makes it a whole lot easier to (3.00 / 4)
wear a tag of progressive, liberal, conservative (although I'm amazed that there is anyone that could explain that without a memo from Limpballz) or not wear a tag at all.

I willingly wear the tag(s) of liberal or progressive.  It's who I am when you consider my political leanings.  I don't run from it and in fact am surrounded by those that, when not in my presence, no doubt crap all over those monikers.  Yet, I don't care because it is how I was made through years of experience and years of watching the world turn.

I know one thing for sure.  Those that know me and belittle my "tags" would be hard pressed to say that they haven't learned to moderate their hard right stance from the conversations that we have had.  It isn't my place to constantly mock them.  It is my place to listen to them and educate them as they try to educate me.

But yeah.  I mock them when they need it.  

I'm not religious and yet I more closely follow the teachings of Jesus than any Conservative I know.  Weird!

I am a full on socialst (3.00 / 4)
I believe government has an obligation to ensure that citizens survive and thrive.

Not a full on religious person but "the least of us" comes to mind.

Not sure about the platform at this point can't wait for the discussion.

"Moderation to excess is not good for you."~ anonymous

I only voted for one (3.00 / 4)
"Fair elections/campaign finance reform." Everything else would follow.

Thanks for the good links, I'll give them a going over.

I'm liberal and proud of it. I've also had a feeling that the word 'progressive' is a sort of capitulation. They made liberal a dirty word so we picked a new one. Just my feelings but also just so common on the left.  

"Democracy only works when we claim it as our own" -Bill Moyers

you are exactly right... fair elections/CFR and everything... (3.00 / 3)
falls in place after that...

--poligirl  :D

(-5.75,-4.92) "Compromise sounds a lot like capitulation, doesn't it?" --Elizabeth Edwards

[ Parent ]
I know that always pissed me off (3.00 / 3)
liberal a dirty word?! The first sign that America was fucked.

"Moderation to excess is not good for you."~ anonymous

[ Parent ]
All right I have to slightly disagree (3.00 / 2)
But first:

"Fair elections/campaign finance reform." Everything else would follow.

Right on.

Progressive is not a capitulation, but I understand why you think it is and you're not the only one that says that as people do use it now without providing any context. they don't say I want to stop TBTF, I'm a progressive. they just say I'm a progressive and stop there and it is perfectly fine to be both.

Progressive is not a replacement word for liberal; it has a direct connotation to the progressive era which was a response to the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age and their massive monopolies that had to be broken up by using government and a trust buster like Teddy Roosevelt, Robert M. LaFollete and others ones Standard Oil and J.P Morgan's Northern Securities company like the banks, and like insurance companies today that need this treatment, but aren't getting it.

Someone could say he's pro choice, but hate unions and love monopolies and he would call himself liberal, because he's socially liberal. Yes the word has been demonized and it should be used more but most progressives today are liberal, though the terms are mutually exclusive, but it has direct economic anti-monopoly historical connotations.

We don't have a trust buster or someone to take on entrenched interests with liberal tendencies in FDR's mold(though he wasn't fully liberal on everything).

[ Parent ]
When I was young I picked up these definitions (3.00 / 2)
A liberal is someone who believes the people should not be regulated and business should be regulated. A conservative believes that business should not be regulated but people should. A libertarian is someone who believes nothing should be regulated.

Very generalized but that was my starting point. Of course there was much more to learn about being liberal and I would later add compassion for others that is so lacking in the two others.

I've heard many definitions of "progressive" and they are all different but they are also all sound like the classic liberal to me. It was a perfectly useful word until Michael Dukakis ran and hid under a rock after being accused of being one.

One exalted progressive leader claimed that progressives are different from liberals because they will fight for actions leading to progress. Like liberals had been twiddling their thumbs until progressives came to bail us out. As far as I'm concerned progressive is a replacement word created by the big bad spin on us bleeding hearts and nobody willing to get our back.

But I have one point for progressives, if you really need to be a progressive then don't claim credit for all of the liberal achievements that came before you because calling yourself a progressive sounds very much like not respecting those achievements. It sounds like backing away from your own history. But what do I know?

Perhaps "I'm a Liberal Progressive" works better because I've met a few progressive who claim to believe in a strong military and more that a few who place elected Democrats far above liberal values. "Liberal Progressive" also sounds like reclaiming those values that once existed in this nation while just "progressive" sounds more like fighting with Glen Beck to me.    

And just one very valid point.

Someone could say he's pro choice, but hate unions and love monopolies and he would call himself liberal

I have yet to meet a liberal who hate unions but I've posted more than a few pieces about unions at progressive blogs. Somewhere between not much interest and mild distaste for unions, that is unless there is an upcoming election and our envelope stuffing talents seem useful.


"Democracy only works when we claim it as our own" -Bill Moyers

[ Parent ]
Hey now, I believe you believe in the same things progressives do as I defined it (3.00 / 3)
and I firmly believe progressives come from the standards set up from the progressive era when Samuel Gompers created the AFL and Eugene Debs the International Workers of the World which does have some liberal connotations, too. I don't know to who you are referring, but I didn't say or imply liberals didn't fight for progress and that would not be an accurate statement. I mentioned FDR as a progressive who I also consider like many to be a liberal. Also LBJ and Truman even though all have had their stains.

Bill Clinton-liberal-known as the first black president. Destroyed our financial system with the help of PHil Gramm, Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin. NAFTA. China PNTR.

But liberal.

DLC-liberal, but very anti-union.

Rahm Emanuel-need I say more? I don't think he likes unions very much.

Most Democrats consider themselves liberal even as corporatist Democrats, but before FDR redefined the Democratic party after Woodrow Wilson ruined the name of progressives as a fake one in many ways, he was inspired by his cousin Teddy who had his problems in the liberal arena but economically it had an effect on equality for all and the labor movement.

It's possible to be a progressive and a liberal at the same time even with some things not considered liberal.

Classic liberalism actually has a similar connotation with libertarians as Adam Smith is a classic liberal.

The abolitionist Republicans were liberal, but yet also progressive as Abraham Lincoln's speech condemning Mud Sill theory shows and how he eloquently explains how labor is superior to capital.

Liberalism is tantamount to many things as you defined it, to being open to new things, to be against regulating people, but not necessarily for regulating business except when it comes to access to business for people to have access to commerce and to free slaves from being commerce by the once great Republican party. Though those ideals converged later on as Liberalism was redefined by FDR's new Liberalism when moves towards the dixiecrats were first made, though couldn't be passed but abandoned and Truman, though not always that way, turned out to be a liberal progressive too as he vetoed the slave labor bill and formed his civil rights commission and desegregated the armed forces, unlike Obama not ending DADT.

I think you must have take offense to my comment as if I am trying to put you down or have a liberal vs progressive battle and I'm not like whomever said that.

But many Democrats can openly claim to being liberal and they are but given the examples I used via monopolies who used to actually place cash on Senators desks, they are fine in going to bat for civil rights, women's rights etc. But too many of them do not want to anger big business and so they fool liberals into thinking they represent their interests because they are liberal even though they don't use the word anymore which was a mistake as I said.

I believe I defined what I meant and why I don't think progressive is a replacement word for liberal and that it is possible to be both even though both have their exclusive connotations. I believe the liebrals of old, many were progressives as they tried to get public institutions to act right like progressives tried and successfully got private business to act right.

That's all I mean, Eddie C. There was no slight against you or liberals. Both terms deserve defense, but also context as throwing progressive away is throwing away a good bit of historical connotations to the term that we must remember today.

[ Parent ]
I was not offended by you, not at all. (3.00 / 3)
I just think you are writing about politicians, that are almost always full of shit and I am writing about the people, who because of the politicians are confused.

Like centrist, where the center fall in the population again? At this point the center line is $250,000 in income. Time for banking health care reform, the middle was around 5 million a year in income.

All centrist are conservatives trying to convince liberals that they represent progressives.      

"Democracy only works when we claim it as our own" -Bill Moyers

[ Parent ]
i use the label "progressive" for myself, because... (3.00 / 4)
the label "liberal" has come to be overused, and i think it's meaning has become too much of a big tent.

i am from what Gov. Dean called "the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party".

--poligirl  :D

(-5.75,-4.92) "Compromise sounds a lot like capitulation, doesn't it?" --Elizabeth Edwards

Why I'm here (3.00 / 4)
I was having a discussion (argument) with an individual (clown) over at Daily Kos the other day. His/her sig line said: "I'm neither a liberal nor a progressive ... I'm a DEMOCRAT!"

I remarked that too many people fit that description, and that it was destroying the brand.

When you can't trust a Democrat to uphold what you believe to be Democratic principles, who can you trust? I don't know either, but the answer sure ain't "A Republican."

I don't know if I've moved beyond the Democratic party, or if it has moved in a direction I haven't. All I know is the title "Democrat" doesn't seem to fit my ideals anymore.

I'm trying on the "Progressive" label.

hey jim! and i agree on the labeling problem... (3.00 / 3)
i know the Democrats are a big tent party, and because of that there's not a lot of clarity of principles anymore... it seems lip service gets paid, but our elected officials seem to fold on those principles too often and without much of a fight.

not all Democrats are liberal, yet most Dems describe themselves as liberal, and therefore the term has been diluted imo...

that's why i personally prefer the term progressive for myself...

and we're hoping we can put together a strong platform that anyone can use to measure candidates with, to help folks decide who they want to support or volunteer for or donate to...

and welcome to PB!  :D

--poligirl  :D

(-5.75,-4.92) "Compromise sounds a lot like capitulation, doesn't it?" --Elizabeth Edwards

[ Parent ]
Progress (3.00 / 5)
That's really the most important word in progressive isn't it?  This is a great idea and I look forward to seeing how it develops.  I haven't been around much lately, working hard on campaigns here in CA with at least some success, thank God.  The election really did depress me though and I've had trouble getting back into the swing.  Maybe this will encourage me.

I voted for five of the choices but agree that campaign/finance reform is the most important.  I didn't vote for jobs/economy because I believe that will follow if we solve some of the other problems first.  To me health care is still our most pressing problem, other than the foreclosure crisis which never seems to end, thanks to more shenanigans from the banks.  It's weird to say health care is our biggest problem knowing we passed a health care bill this year.  59 thousand un-insured and rising.

I'm having a lot of trouble getting my head around what is going to happen over the next two years.  Perhaps Obama should have done this exercise before he ran for office, he doesn't seem to know what he believes in, or if he does, he's afraid to say so or fight for it.

hey lmsinca! yeah, it does seem weird to think of... (3.00 / 3)
health care as our biggest problem, but unfortunately, in spite of the health care bill, it still is one of the biggest.

i'm looking forward to this endeavor as well. i've wanted to do something like this for a long time...  :D

--poligirl  :D

(-5.75,-4.92) "Compromise sounds a lot like capitulation, doesn't it?" --Elizabeth Edwards

[ Parent ]
Edit (3.00 / 3)
59 thousand un-insured and rising.  Sorry, meant to say 59 million, sheesh.

[ Parent ]
Hey poligirl (3.00 / 3)
On platforms, they are listed in my twitter profile.

A Square Deal=Teddy Roosevelt

A Fair Deal=Harry Truman

The New Deal=Obvious

I think all of these platforms are great and the right and neoliberals alike is trying to kill each of them and they have succeeded in large part. We must remember what is in these platforms. I consider myself:

I used the links in this diary for this comment that you can read links and all at kos, but I will post the text here.


But we kept hearing, "Nuh Uh!"

In a time when we need another stimulus and to fix trade to create jobs, and we know this by empirical data, we get recommendations to slash spending, to slash SS which has nothing to do with the deficit. They really do want working retiring people to drop dead and boy do they have cheerleaders.

Kossacks and Democrats or whatever some kossacks are who want to shit on FDR, need to ask themselves a question: What do you stand for? What do you think the Democratic party stands for?


Anyone with a D on their name?

Or do they stand for the Democratic party platform:


We reject the notion of the presumptive Republican nominee that Social Security is a disgrace we believe that it is indispensable. We will fulfill our obligation to strengthen Social Security and to make sure that it provides guaranteed benefits Americans can count on, now and in future generations. We will not privatize it.

Are you a Democrat, Mr. President?

Are half of kossacks that say they want to elect more and better Democrats really Democrats? Do they even know what Democrats stand for?

I think these questions lead to proof that half of this community making excuses for a Commission funded and packed by the Peterson Institute; an institute that has been gunning for SS for years and years; does NOT care about Democrats at all. YOU are the one attacking Democrats. Not me, FDL, Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Uygur or anyone else. THEY want to preserve a major plank of the new Deal; Social Security. THEY care more about the Democratic party platform than you regardless of any of their missteps. You are causing more damage if you defend this with your mealy mouthed, "But it won't pass the commission! Obama ethnically hasn't singed it yet and it technically has not gone to his desk so SHUT UP!!

We're telling you the house is on fire, but you still think the house is made of something other than wood and so you put yourself in denial.

Not TomP, not slinkerwink(I got this metaphor from her respectively) or any other of the progressive voices here. They know, they have read and remember the Democratic party platform. We are the party of FDR and Truman.

If you can't deal with that, then GTFO our party.

Thanks, TomP.

Many Democrats don't even adhere to the Democratic platform of 2008 anymore. This is what's dragging us down in large part, when people get behind a leader instead of a platform.

I had to pick them all :D (3.00 / 2)
Except for National Security. That has been used for too much evil and with terrorism you are not going to get national security by fighting terrorism which is a tactic with an army.

[ Parent ]
My sig speaks to who I am (3.00 / 2)
But I consider myself a Progressive Populist.

[ Parent ]
well, we'll probably deal with national security at some point... (3.00 / 2)
so we can spell out what we believe is acceptable in the name of it...

--poligirl  :D

(-5.75,-4.92) "Compromise sounds a lot like capitulation, doesn't it?" --Elizabeth Edwards

[ Parent ]
Yeah, since the Cold war is over building a strong infrastructure and funding law enforcement/intelligence... (3.00 / 2)
agencies is a better use than the military, but we are not doing it. A populous being secure economically is also vital to national security.

We could cut our defense department in half and still have a bigger army than most countries and the challenges we face are very different and that is not solving them.

[ Parent ]
I voted for national security... (3.00 / 1)
...because it is not practical to ignore the issue.  How we defend ourselves and our way of life will require a massive overhaul, not only of expeditures and tactics, but also of whom we define as the "enemy".  

The primary threat to the sovereignty of the United States is the multinational corporation.  Not China (their rise is a symptom, not a cause, of the former).  Not al-Qaeda.  Their reach has become so vast that even if through campaign finance reform and updated trust-busting techniques the corporate beast could be scaled back, it may take targeted military actions (or heavily-armed FBI agents if occuring within our borders) to truly secure ourselves.  

Don't believe me?  On which side do you think Blackwater/Xe would fight, and what tactics would they use?

The Peach State ain't so peachy.

[ Parent ]
The context needs to be redefined which is why I didn't vote for it (3.00 / 1)
Military spending is part of the overall rot that is causing this country to collapse on itself since Military Keynesian is dead via going to your point about Blackwater which wouldn't exits BTW if there wasn't government created demand for them by starting unnecessary wars and we must ask ourselves if we want a national security state like Isreal which also creates this demand for war. That is how you are going to stop the MIC and Obama does need to heed Jeremy Scahil's reporting and work to serve ties, which is another broken promise of this administration.

Of course I want the nation to be secure, which would also mean a national guard(the same national guard still bein dwindled by Iraq and Afghanistan), the same kind FDR called to protect the union workers from GM police thugs in this same context.

All I'm saying is we need to cut defense spending and go domestic, because that is where the real threats are and we are stronger as a nation when we invest in ourselves and a strong infrastructure including an intelligence infrastructure and to continue to have an adequate military which we would because of the statistics I already cited, but here you go:

In order to fight multinational corporations we need to nullify their stranglehold on our market place, we need to get out of NAFTA and the WTO which uses corporate protectionist provisions that allow corporate participants to sue government that want labor or environmental standards giving them sovereignty that the government doesn't have.

We must not sanction them and we can't fight them directly with out military unless we were physically under attack, but either attack would be against U.S law and international law I'm pretty sure. We have to fight this menace legally or hope one day we have a leader with balls enough to do it.

[ Parent ]
I agree with every sentence you wrote, priceman.... (3.00 / 2)
...except the last one.

We have to fight this menace legally or hope one day we have a leader with balls enough to do it.

What makes you think the multinational corporations will adhere to strict legalities with their counterpressure against a hoped-for bold, progressive U.S. government policy?  If we deny the beast their trade deals, their ability to pour money into elections, their ability to bully American workers through union suppression (all of which should be enacted without question), what are they going to do?  Will they shrug their collective shoulders and say "Oh well, it was good while it lasted"?


Any truly progressive administration had better be prepared from the get-go, before any actual policy implementation, for a violent reaction from corporate elements.  Their obvious choice would be to contract with Blackwater/Xe to actually conduct targeted killings of progressive leaders, or maybe even a full-fledged terrorist attack on our soil staged to look like an al-Qaeda operation.  This is not a national security challenge?

I'm all for changing the context of national security, priceman.  We cannot be naive, either.

The Peach State ain't so peachy.

[ Parent ]
All of what you speak of is against US and international law (3.00 / 2)
And didn't happen when Bechtel was defeated in Bolivia in their water war as that was a victory for progressive activism, not saying it couldn't happen, anything's possible, but the US is a sovereign nation and when speaking of false flag attacks we need to be careful in knowing exactly what the situation is, because otherwise we sound like truthers and lose all credibility.

The defense department cutting contracts with these people would go a long way, but I don't really know what you have in mind. It's against US law for the US military to invade a city, so then we have the national guard like what I talked about which can be ordered to protect the nation and citizens. Increased funding for all intelligence agencies would go towards the path I mention in finding out what happened, if something like this does happen, and to get Congress to do proper investigations of this sort of thing depending on if it does, which there have been in the past oevr presidential assassinations.

It would take a lot of balls to try this on the US and I don't think it's being naive to think legal action would go a long way, while being mindful and going through the proper channels as we have done in the past.

It's good that we agree with most of what I said, though, so you get the rec.

[ Parent ]
I'm all for the deployment... (3.00 / 2)
...of legal progressive modalities FIRST.  That is not in dispute.  All I'm pointing out is the possible reaction we would get from the corporate monster IF, say, the Obama administration were doing everything it could be doing, and our need to be prepared for that eventuality.  

Obviously, we are not at that point, and the still likely sellout on the Bush tax cuts puts us even further away.

The Peach State ain't so peachy.

[ Parent ]
good point CLL! fighting the corporate hold should go under... (3.00 / 1)
national security...

--poligirl  :D

(-5.75,-4.92) "Compromise sounds a lot like capitulation, doesn't it?" --Elizabeth Edwards

[ Parent ]
Great range of comments (0.00 / 0)
I'll add one thing:

One of the boxes I checked was "other" and list below.  So, here's what I think is pretty important: Net Neutrality.  One of the greatest things we have for the economy, fair elections, etc, is that for the most part, the Net belongs to the people.  I don't wish for the providers to push up things that I don't care about or push for a more corporatist agenda--or block educational institutions (including libraries) in what it can see.  Today, the FCC decided to delay another vote.  Why?

AT&T provides Internet service, and satellite-television company Dish relies on Internet lines to offer video-on-demand.

The two companies disagree on how the FCC should write net- neutrality rules, which would bar Internet-service providers such as AT&T and Comcast Corp. from selectively blocking or slowing content delivered to subscribers while favoring their own offerings.


More turkeys RNCers tweet I think, than Democrats.  Especially Sarah Palin.

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