What’s in a Name?
Why did we choose the name “Progressive Populist” for our Caucus in the Texas Democratic Party?
How does this differ from Liberalism?
Paraphrasing from the American Political Dictionary and borrowing from conventional wisdom in the field of political science:
pro·gres·sive: noun - A political movement that has as its root and primary purpose securing economic justice for the governed. It has a long history in America, manifested in both “causes” and dedicated political parties. These causes include such great accomplishments as
- emancipation, where economic exploitation was the basis of slavery
- voting and equal rights for women, where economic exploitation was the foundation of discrimination against women
- restrictions on child labor and the right for labor to organize, where exploitation was the core social evil to defeat
In the contemporary scene, the progressive movement is associated with economic justice reforms that ended the domination of public policy and the entire political process by corporations and the wealthy class in America. This resulted in the advancement of labor rights to collectively bargain and provision a living wage, tax policy reform which fairly distributed the tax burden among individual citizens and corporations, and ensured fair distribution of government services and expenditures to address the needs of ordinary citizens first. The domestic needs of citizens take precedence over all other priorities set by legislative and executive public policy. Solutions sought by progressives often involve systemic change or reform.
pop·u·lism: noun - A parallel political movement in America which emphasizes the needs of working people of low and moderate income. In early American history this movement had its origins in rural America. In Texas, the populist movement addressed the rights of ranchers and land owners in west Texas vs. the aggressive “takings” of land during the development of railroads, which was supported by government. In east Texas the populist movement had its roots in usury in bank lending practices with small farmers and landowners. In both cases corporations and supporting government administrations were the object of criticism and citizen revolt. In the contemporary situation, Texas political office-holders such as Rep. Wright Patman, Sen. Ralph Yarbrough, Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower and Attorney General Jim Mattox, are self identified Populists, as is candidate David Van Os.
lib·er·al·lism: noun - In contrast to progressivism, liberalism, in the domestic application, emphasizes social justice issues, often without addressing the core economic injustice underpinnings of worker, racial, gender and sexual discrimination. Solutions sought in the liberal paradigm more often are exemplified in legislation or legal remedies to restore or improve rights and equal access. Progressivism typically seeks systemic change or reform, again with first emphasis on economic justice.
It Works For The Democratic Party - In the progressive vision, the Democratic Party for too long has been a balkanized, loose ‘coalition’ of disparate groups, each with their own proprietary agenda; with labor (now even more split), women, African Americans, Hispanics, GLBTs, each pursuing their own social justice agendas, with little solidarity between them on core issues and a vision of mutual agreement.
The progressive populist movement within the Party offers an overarching vision on core issues. We can all agree because these solutions impact us all; a secure nation protecting free citizens from harm, living wages and fair treatment of employees, preeminent citizen clout with their office-holders and public policy over corporations and wealthy plutocrats, publicly financed healthcare for all, free public education from pre-K through college or technical school, aid for children and older adults in need of basic services for survival, clean air and water unspoiled by private interests, and consumer protections from harmful products. Finally, a progressive tax policy where corporations and citizens pay their fair share based on their proportional income to fund these basic needs. Basic needs are fulfilled for all to pursue their lives to be all they can be.
This is not stereotyped ‘leftist’ politics or extremism. This is life with economic justice. This can be the Democratic Party which offers a clear difference.