The Difference between Progressives and Liberals

The Progressive message will do the same for the 21st century that the Enlightenment did for the 19th century. Without the Enlightenment, we would not have the modern world. Without the Progressive message, we will not have a world. Liberalism is based on the tenet of freedom of or for the individual. Progressivism is based on the tenet of providing the tools needed for the well being of all people on earth. This does not mean that Progressives do not support freedom of choice for the individual, but it does mean that progressives are more concerned to find solutions that benefit everybody, and that freedom of choice is not the leading driving force.

The early progressives rejected Social Darwinism. In other words, they were people who believed that the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment,
The early progressives rejected Social Darwinism. In other words, they were people who believed that the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment, | Source

Liberal Concerns

Liberals concern themselves with moral issues like abortion. They will argue about issues like race, homosexuality and transgender, and feminism. The liberal concerns themselves with issues of ethics and morality, but does not focus on the infrastructure for practical solutions to practical problems. Liberalism came into being alongside the Enlightenment towards the middle of the 17th century.

It was proposed in order to avoid class wars like the French Revolution. In particular, England installed the House of Commons (the common people) so that the 'common' people could have a say in government. However, they made sure that the House of Lords (those born to the aristocracy) could veto anything the House of Commons produced if it didn't suit the elite.

In America, the same system works. It's not really democracy. The Electoral College has the right to install the president they want - not the people's choice.

Recently, Hillary Clinton made use of super delegates to make sure she won the nomination even before the people had voted.

This is Liberalism - an idea that isn't quite what it seems to be. The ideas are there, certainly, but when you look at the mechanism to ensure equality, they don't exist.

Progressive Concerns

The progressive looks at a situation and asks “Does it work for everybody?” If it does, no reason to do anything. If it doesn’t, then the next question is “How do I make it work for everybody?” Thus while Clinton may be a liberal (or not), Bernie Sanders is a Progressive.

As a Progressive, Sanders has fought to write off student debt, provide free medical care for all, increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, get rid of money in politics so that even poor people can become leaders, etc. These are all issues that affect a great many people and have little to do with morality, except, perhaps, that it is immoral to allow people to struggle the way they do when the resources are available.

Progressivism came into being at the end of the 19th century and three presidents were Progressive. They thought that while the ideas were good, there had to be means of implementing those ideas. Progressivism is the means that ensure liberalism cane exist.

At the time, there were no rules about who could work and for what pay. The government believed that private enterprise could run without interference. Industry took advantage of the situation!
At the time, there were no rules about who could work and for what pay. The government believed that private enterprise could run without interference. Industry took advantage of the situation! | Source

Why Progressives are vital to the survival of humanity

While the Liberal is busy debating with climate deniers as to the validity of climate change, the Progressive has already seen the damage is working towards solutions.

Progressivism recognises that the growth of the population (now 7.5 billion people) has outpaced the mineral resources available to us. The earth simply does not have enough resources to supply us all to the degree that the consumer model demands.

Progressives, therefore, know that the consumer model needs to go in order for the earth not to be completely depleted of its natural resources (leaving nothing for future generations).

While liberals believe that it is wrong for people not to have equal opportunity, Progressives understand the violent outcomes of great inequality and seek to educate all people to a level which makes them able to survive and live with well being. Ergo, Progressives seek to make a good education free to everybody because without it, sooner or later, countries will sink into third world conditions.

More than that, if we do not stop the path of destruction that business and overpopulation is wreaking on our planet, then we will become extinct within the next century.

The reason Progressivism is vital to the 21st century is that when you have weapons (biological warfare, nuclear weapons) that can lead to extinction, you have to make sure that the masses of people aren’t angry enough to do desperate and insane things.

Progressivism was responsible for the prosperity of the American worker

Some Progressive ideas

  • A minimum wage that provides people who have only one job enough to cover food and rent. This minimum wage must be linked to inflation so that companies can’t just up prices in order to ensure that they retain the same level of profits. A liveable wage is essential, so that dissatisfaction remains negligible.
  • Free medical care for all. When people are unable to pay for necessary medical care, it means that they either die or life in a state of ill health. This is simply uncivilized (and un-Christian for those who care). People who are healthy work harder, are more creative, happier, and more prone to contribute to the world around them. Sick people drain resources.
  • Free education is vital to a peaceful world. The more uneducated people are, the more they make stupid decisions, are liable to use crime to earn a living, and in general become a burden to the population. When the cost of imprisoning people is many times the cost of education, education becomes the better way of not only avoiding a population of criminals, but of cutting down overhead costs. The American education budget is $69 billion for 100% of the population while the prison budget is $49 billion for .7% of the population. Oh, and the military budget is $596 billion.
  • Progressivism calls for the demise of organisations that harm the general well being of the population like too-big-to-fail banks, globalisation, the TPP trade agreement, and more. Economic systems that enhance the well being of the top .01% at the expense of the 99% mean that the end is likely to be revolution, fascism, or both. Neither the French Revolution nor the Russian Revolution ended well, and both were the result of a few people at the top living like kings of the universe while the lives of the majority of people were a constant financial struggle. Progressivism makes policies that avoid violence and destructive outcomes.
  • Progressivism calls for a Universal Basic Income in order to alleviate poverty and prevent revolution as soft robotics and Artificial Intelligence remove half the jobs within the next five to eight years. Obama has said that 80% of jobs will go to computers. It is, therefore, vital for the people to find a means of income that is not based on a job. Progressivism looks at what is coming and makes a plan to meet it. Liberalism focuses on ideas that have been fought over for half a century or more.

Progressives are not Democratic!

A Parallel with the French Revolution

Some have claimed that we are now at the same stage that France ws in just before the revolution which began with the storming of the Bastille. Is it a coincidence that the king put people into prison (the Bastille) for minor infringements or just plain dislike? Does this not ring a bell with American justice and laws? Too many people are in prison for smoking a joint!

But there is another parallel here.

The French Revolution was never started by the poor people. They were too downtrodden. Instead it was started by the educated middle classes – the people who had some things but not enough things, and the people who had sufficient education to question the system. Primarily, it is intellectuals who are leading the progressive revolution internationally.

It was progressivism that set the stage of a successful modern America.
It was progressivism that set the stage of a successful modern America.

So who are you?

  • Progressive
  • Libertarian
  • Liberal
  • Conservative
See results without voting

The Growth of Progressivism Internationally

Whether it’s Occupy, Bernie Sanders in the States, or Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, people are tired of fighting over the rights and/or wrongs of a situation while the Conservative brand of politics keeps the ‘peasants’ down!

Theresa May, the replacement Prime Minister in the UK, has just replaced the Eton elite with the government educated. She has also called for more money to be allocated to the poor and for the demands of the wealthy to be paid less attention to. Naturally, there has been a backlash from some of her rich donors. And you think the rich don’t expect their largesse to be reciprocated?

Since Thatcher and Reagan privatized state industry and demolished the Unions, the middle classes have shrunk into poverty internationally. That’s because many other countries were influenced by Thatcher and Reagan, and they privatized as well. Unions became a dirty word.

Thirty years on, there are now so many educated poor (hard working poor, as well), that they just don’t agree with either capitalism, conservatism, or liberalism anymore. Now they want to kick ass, and progressivism is the tool!

© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger

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Comments 3 comments

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 months ago

Bravo Tess, I like all that you say in your last post, my problem was that I needed to keep a roof over my family's head and put food in our bellies.

I had one hubber criticize me for accepting my Social Security and said that I was living off the government, but I would bet he does not turn down his SS unless he did not earn any, in which case he would be jealous of anyone who did.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Some of this discussion reminds me of one of my nephews who has a BA in education but found he hated teaching. So he's working a minimum wage job. He says he absolutely will not work a job that "sells his soul" for the profit of the business. But he has no hesitation to live at his parents and let them feed him in his 30s. My quetion is: What does selling your soul look like to you? Most of us started out in jobs we weren't crazy about in order to be self-sufficient. With luck and hard work we moved out of those jobs and into more fulfilling work. Nobody gets that dream job right off the bat. What all this has to do with progressive v liberal, I can't say!

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama


As they say, you "hit it out of the park," with this piece. Since you are a professional writer, me telling you how wonderful this piece is, may run the risk of being futile, but I will gamble for once. This was great.

Loved the summation about progressives and liberals. Especially the point about the minimum wage.

So now I know for sure that I am a progressive.

Keep up the good work.

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