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Progressive? What does that mean?

SmilinSilhouette

Registered Member
:lol: Sim! I'm pretty sure that I'm somewhere between conservative and libertarian! I do think that I share a lot more with people of any color, race, religion, and nationality that want to live in peace, keep what they work for, not be subject to the whims of the ruling class, provide for their families, and be free to go about their business with out getting hassled by the man, and don't want to force others to live their lives according to their own beliefs :nod:

But that is not what this thread is about now is it! Nor is it about what conservatives hold in common. So I will post a link to a conservative web site that I think represents conservatives well, The Heritage Foundation
Conservative Policy Research and Analysis | The Heritage Foundation

Can you refer me to any web sites that represent mainstream progressive thinking?
 

Sim

Registered Member
:lol: Sim! I'm pretty sure that I'm somewhere between conservative and libertarian! I do think that I share a lot more with people of any color, race, religion, and nationality that want to live in peace, keep what they work for, not be subject to the whims of the ruling class, provide for their families, and be free to go about their business with out getting hassled by the man, and don't want to force others to live their lives according to their own beliefs :nod:
You're right, that indeed sounds more typically libertarian than conservative, at least for my biased standards. :lol:

But there is another problem: Consciously embracing certain values or attitudes does not always correspond with actual attitudes or unconscious behavior of the same person. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to suggest that you are such a person. I am speaking in general. We all are guilty of that to some extent, some maybe more than others. I'm sure I do that too.

Just one example: You have many people who say "I am not racist, and I don't hate blacks, I even have black friends, but ...", and when they continue speaking, you realize they are indeed racist, just not consciously. And they don't even realize that. Their prejudices are not rooted in malice, and probably, they indeed do not hate blacks, but they still hold prejudices than can have horrible consequences. I'm sure you have met such people, especially among older people who were raised in times when racism was much more widespread.

Another example would be certain leftists I met here in Germany: When asked, they would say "I oppose oppression, violence and intolerance", but would say very intolerant, over-generalizing things about "capitalists", and some would even justify violence against policemen.

So what a person claims to believe in, and what they do or support, are often two different things.

I am sure there are examples on the left side of the spectrum too, but one of these contradictions regarding coherence that really annoys me among some American conservatives, is the one I mentioned before: Some claim they believe in "small government", yet they had no problem at all with the Bush government spending huge sums of taxpayer money and making government really, really big, on the fields of military, war and "war against terror". It's simply incoherent. You can't support things like the "Patriot Act" and claim to believe in "small government", and you can't claim to be against excessive spending, yet support huge military spending.

And I don't believe most of these people have bad intentions, or are aware of that incoherence -- probably they, in all honesty, believe they are in favor of small government and limited spending. The problem is ignorance: Either they don't even know the people they support do the things they do, or they simply cannot think coherently.

The same when it comes to people who oppose Obama because of racist and/or islamophobic prejudices (they may not be many, certainly they are only a small group among those who oppose Obama, most for good reasons, but they do exist): I don't doubt most of them are not aware they are racists, and would quickly deny that accusation. But they are, they are just not aware of it: They have an emotional bias against Obama they wouldn't have if he was white, which is why they cannot accept him as "one of them" and are quicker at suspecting him of all kind of things. And in some cases, it's just ignorance: Polls have shown some 20% believe Obama is Muslim, although he obviously isn't. In that case, their rejection is based on misinformation.

Again, I want to say that by no means, I believe all or even most conservatives are like that, or that such kinds of bias cannot exist on the progressive side. But some are.

But that is not what this thread is about now is it! Nor is it about what conservatives hold in common. So I will post a link to a conservative web site that I think represents conservatives well, The Heritage Foundation
Conservative Policy Research and Analysis | The Heritage Foundation

Can you refer me to any web sites that represent mainstream progressive thinking?
Probably the Brookings Institution is the progressive equivalent for the Heritage Foundation in America:

Brookings - Quality. Independence. Impact.

Another important progressive think tank is the Center for American progress:

Center for American Progress

Much like Heritage had much influence on Bush's government, the CAP has much influence on the Obama administration.


But I am not sure how much such institutions are really representative of conservatives or progressives in general. They are think tanks, intellectuals. I am sure that on many topics, they don't hold the same opinions as the common guy from the street, the common, non-intellectual Joe Average from either side. Also, these think tanks do not represent the full scale of people on either side (for example, I believe the Brookings Institution leans a bit more towards centrist Democrats, while the CAP leans more to the left, or Heritage is more on the side of big government-neocons, while many Republicans are ideologically closer to the libertarian CATO Institute). There will always be people who hold more fringe opinions on either side.

So frankly, I am more interested in your personal opinions. What do you think makes a real conservative, and what do you believe makes you a conservative or libertarian?

Maybe I should add that I, whenever I got angry against conservatives, or maybe generalized them too much, I usually did not have conservative values or convictions in mind I had a problem with. Usually, I respect conservative values, even when I don't share them. But I have a problem with particular decisions by the Bush government, or just this incoherence or ignorance among certain people on the right side I pointed to above (maybe I generalize too much in these regards sometimes, but I think that my feelings on those have at least a true core at least regarding some people):

What really makes me angry is when people identifying themselves as "conservatives" support politicians, parties or policies who, when you look at it in an objective way, blatantly violate the very values these people claim to stand for.

For example, I have a great respect for conservative people who believe in Constitutional limits on government power, and the values of the Founding Fathers. What I have a problem with, though, is when this enthusiasm only reaches far enough to cover gun rights and taxes, but not far enough to cover the Patriot Act and other anti-terror policies which excessively expand government power (and while I am no expert on American law, I am sure it does in a manner the Founding Fathers really wouldn't have approved of Patriot Act, extralegal detention or general wiretapping). In my book, someone who really is aware of Bush's policies, and also claims he is conservative because he believes in limits on executive power, cannot support Bush's Republicans. Doing so would be very incoherent. If they were coherent, they would realize Bush's Republicans were not acting in a true conservative spirit.

Another example are people calling themselves conservative who claim to support freedom of religion and oppose racism, yet idolize someone like Glenn Beck who time and again fuels islamophobic hatred by connecting Islam in general to radical islamist terrorism, nourishing racist and/or islamophobic sentiments by emphasizing Obama's middle name, painting him somehow "foreign" or even subtly fueling the disinformation he is a Muslim, or even the absurd notion he is a black racist. It's prejudice, base instincts and disinformation.

So I really don't have a problem with conservatives in general. And I don't really have a problem with conservative values, even when I don't share them all, or disagree with some of them. But I have a problem with incoherence, ignorance and prejudices some of those who call themselves "conservative" are holding. They may give good answers when asked about their values, but fail to see that those politicians they support don't represent these values at all, and that many memes they believe in actually contradict their values. And I have a problem with "conservative" politicians who abuse this incoherence and disinformation to, more or less unnoticed by their supporters.

Then, there are also some on the right who take patriotism a little too far for my taste, which rubs me the wrong way as well.

Maybe similar things exist on the progressive side too. Personally, I have the impression that at least in America, you hardly find the same degree of incoherence or conspiracy theories on the left side, as on the right these days. But in Germany, it's reversed; here you find much more crazy leftists, than crazy conservatives (if not counting minor fringe groups like neo-Nazis to the right side).

I admit I may sometimes overshoot the mark when pointing to these problems I see on the right, and maybe generalize too much.

And you might be surprised how differently I react when debating with Germans, rather than Americans: In Germany, I often take side for the right, because I believe many on the far-left side here are just as incoherent or prejudiced as some on the American right, and crazy opinions from the left are entering the mainstream here. For example, much like you find quite a few Americans with anti-European prejudices, horrible anti-American prejudices are widespread on the German left, and I don't like that at all.


Ok ... now, that was a little longer again than I intended. I hope you don't mind. At any rate, I enjoy this exchange, and think it helps both of us to understand better where we are coming from. I also believe that explaining our individual, personal views is better suited for that purpose, than just posting links (which, of course, is not bad, but a nice icing on the cake :lol:).

I'm curious: In the same manner I explained my problems with people on the right, what are your problems with people on the progressive side? Is it their values? A particular behavior? Do you think you have problems with all, most or only few progressives?

At any rate, thanks for the great debate! It's really enlightening.
 
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