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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/19/10

Progressives Fail because Progressivism is not Understood

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Rosie the Riveter. An early Progressive
Rosie the Riveter. An early Progressive
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Gallup has provided me a treasure of useful information this week. First was the empirical evidence that the Tea Parties and Republicans were one and the same. Most people had figured that out a long time ago, but it was nice to have it laid out empirically. Now, Gallup explains, unintentionally, why Progressives have a hard time getting Progressive values incorporated into legislation. Like with the Tea Party study, it validates something that to me was obvious. People do not understand what Progressivism is.

Gallup's study shows that 54% of Americans do not know whether the term "Progressive" describes their own views. If they cannot determine that, it means to me that they do not know what Progressivism is.

Even more curious is that 22% of the 12% of the population who self-identified as "Progressive" also self-identified as politically "Conservative". Something tells me that those people do not understand what the term "Progressive" means either so we can up the 54% to at least 66%. Two thirds of the American population do not know what "Progressive" means.

Many Progressives point to conspiracies or the elites or the powers that be or some combination when giving an explanation for why Progressives cannot get their agenda passed or even supported. This study better explains it. I have been saying for a long time that before Progressives attempt to get their ideas made into law, they have to first explain their ideas to the public and second, convince people that Progressive ideas are the right ones for the country. It makes sense, right? People are not going to support an agenda that they do not understand and has not been explained to them.

This opinion that I have had for a while is why I have placed myself in the "Pragmatic Progressive" category. Those of us in that category accept an incremental approach to Liberal and Progressive achievements in legislation because we know that there is not enough support for more comprehensive movement in that regard. We often clash with those who call themselves "Principled Progressives" who believe that we should go for broke on every piece of legislation and that failure on a go for broke approach is better than creeping incremental-ism.

Gallup's study, in my opinion, is game, set, match for Pragmatism, at least in the short term. It also means that Progressives have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a way to teach the country about Progressivism. I'm interested in hearing from fellow Progressives whether they agree or disagree with my assessment. I'm also curious as to whether the Principled Progressives believe that there is a way forward with go for broke legislation with only one in three Americans having any real understanding of Progressive values or their merits.

Link to the Gallup Study:

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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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