Rooted in American Values
Director, Project Censored
The term progressive is widely used by contemporary
writers, politicians, and liberals, but an understanding of what makes up a
progressive agenda is generally unknown.
Many people have a vague sense that progressives are
left-of-center folks mostly concerned with societal fairness and governmental
transparency. This notion is rooted in the Progressive movement that occurred
in the US between
1900 and 1914. According to Richard Hofstadfer in his book The Progressive
Movement, 100 years ago our grandparents and great grandparents faced the
accumulated evils of political bosses, banking trusts, railroad
greed/overcharging, unjust taxation, millionaire senators, yellow-dog
journalism, and cities filled with pollution and tenements. A nationwide
multi-party political movement of mostly middle class working people emerged
that sought political reform, increased governmental regulation, city
sanitation, and objective media. The movement was closely tied into women
suffrage and the formation of the NAACP.
Progressives in the 21st century continue in this tradition of democracy
building and open transparency of corporate and political power. Progressive
values are rooted in the American traditions of equality, fairness, due
process, and democratic decision making at the deepest level possible.
Progressives recognize that institutional power, both public and private, has
created inequalities of race, class and gender, and that democratic
governmental regulation is needed to make necessary social justice
corrections for humanity worldwide. Progressives believe in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the Bill of Rights, open access to corporate and
governmental information, democratic media and individual human freedom.
Progressives believe that human freedom includes the freedom from hunger,
homelessness, unemployment, environmental pollution, discrimination based on
physical attributes and long imprisonment for non-violent crimes.
Progressives encourage socio-economic/political systems that maximize
individual participation, self-actualization, loving interpersonal
relationships and healthy environments.
Progressives are a diversified bunch, who come from all political parties
with a full range of human characteristics.
More importantly, progressives seek personal life styles that reflect their
core values. Simplicity is highly valued through a life of slower natural
foods, sustainable consumption, efficient living spaces, and a daily
consciousness of striving for human betterment through social action.
Social action based on progressive values is possible locally, regionally,
nationally and internationally. It is action emerging from real internalized
values that lead people to self-actualization and right livelihood. One step
at a time can lead us to a progressive future.
Imagine a society with regionally sustainable economies, self-actualizing
people, crimelessness, and general equality. Such a life is possible, not
just for us but for the world.
Peter Phillips is a Professor of
Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored a
media research group at www.projectcensored.org.