If one more Californian tells me how “progressive” California is, I am going to scream.
“Progressivism” is the term applied to a variety of responses to the economic and social problems that were introduced to America by industrialization. It began as a social movement and grew into a political one. Early Progressives rejected Social Darwinism, believing that the problems society faced — such as poverty, violence, greed, racism and class warfare — could best be addressed by providing a good education and efficient, safe workplace and protecting the environment.
As the ideology developed, it came to represent four core values: Progressives have a two-part definition of freedom: “freedom from” and “freedom to.”
First, they believe that all people should have freedom from undue interference by governments and others in carrying out their private affairs and personal beliefs. This includes the rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion as well as the freedom to control one’s own bodies and personal lives.
Second, they believe that all people should have the freedom to lead a fulfilling and secure life supported by the basic foundations of economic security and opportunity. This includes physical protections against bodily harm as well as adequate income, economic protections, health care and education, and other social provisions.
Complementing their commitment to human freedom is their belief in opportunity. Like freedom, the concept of opportunity has two components: one focuses on political equality and the other on economic and social arrangements that enhance people’s lives.
Along with freedom and opportunity comes responsibility — personal responsibility and the responsibility we have to each other and to the common good.