For those of you who slept through American History, the figure above is President Theodore Roosevelt. Not only was he a very effective and popular Republican President, he was at the forefront of the Progressive Movement at the turn of the 20th Century. I use him to illustrate a Pew Poll that came out several weeks ago.
In this poll, the political term of “Conservative” scored 62% positive and only 30% negative. Very impressive. But you know what? in the same poll, the political term “Progressive” scored 67% positive and only 22% negative. And guess what else, Liberal and Capitalism scored nearly even at 50% positive and 40% negative.
This would appear to run contrary to what you hear from mainstream media and politicians who run on the label of “Conservative” while bashing the term Progressive. They continue to bash Liberal even though I see the term synonymous with Progressive. Socialism scores the worst at only 31% positive and 60% negative. It’s ideological opposite of Libertarian barely beats it out at 38% positive but only 37% negative. What explains this?
Well its messaging. Over the past few generations, the right has done an excellent job in using the mainstream media to convince the country that Liberal is bad and Conservative is good. It’s interesting to question self-proclaimed Conservatives on specific issues to find that they actually support the liberal view of these issues over the conservative. It boils down to wanting to belong with the popular folks, screw whatever they stand for. The problem the right created for themselves is they continue to focus on Liberal and not Progressive. Progressive is popular because human nature wants to progress through life, not stay stagnate or go backwards. That is actually the very nature of conservatism. Keep things as they are, don’t try to make it better because you never know what you might end up with. As some research has pointed out, conservatives tend to be more easily scared and operate in the fear mode than liberals/progressives, they are more daring and hopeful.
Historically, it was the Liberals/Progressives that started our revolution, the conservatives of the age wanted to stay with the King and supported the corporate structure of the East India Company. As time progressed it was the Liberals/Progressives that wanted to end the established institution of slavery while the conservatives wanted to keep it as their “peculiar institution”. It was during this time that the Republican Party came to prominence and power because it proposed Progressive ideas that moved the country forward and that’s what the majority of our people wanted.
At the turn of the 20th Century under Teddy Roosevelt, the progressives worked to end child labor, establish a “living wage”, established a social safety net for those who couldn’t care for themselves, worked for prison reform, government reform, populist movements, again these were progressive ideas while the conservatives held on to the Robber Baron establishment or corruption, a system where the power elites had control and they didn’t want to upset the cart. This continued to the ascension of Teddy’s cousin Franklin and the New Deal. The fruition of all the built up anger and populist reform demanded from a country fed up with conservative ideas that created the Great Depression and stagnation of the American People.
It was a result of the government and economic reforms of the Liberal/Progressive New Deal legislation that led to the greatest growth, both economically and social mobility of the American people. It was continued by both Democratic and Republican administrations right up until Ronald Reagan and the new messaging that “Conservatism” was good and Liberal was bad. Complacent Americans bought into the labels, but never really dwelled into the substance and ever since, the country has regressed both economically and socially. The only respite was the Clinton Administration, but now we are back to where we were just before the implementation of the New Deal.
The majority of the American people are Progressive by nature, their populism is reaching fever pitch while the Conservative Movement that only has support due to successful labeling of the term, hangs on for support. As people truly learn what conservatism means to them, they start to move left for their and the country’s best interests.
While researching for this rant, I found this interesting Conservative/Progressive Wheel. It has no relationship to percentages of where the American People stand regarding where they are, but it shows and interesting linkage. You will note that Corrupt Progressives (Democrats) meet up with Corrupt Conservatives (Republicans) as they move towards “RealPolitick and Anti-Intellectual” beliefs. The far right extremes of the conservative and progressive movements actually tend to meet as they become corrupt and unaware of what they stand for. When they forget the truth of their movement and focus more on the politics. But you can draw your own conclusions from this wheel.
Regardless, the Progressive label is more popular than the Conservative label because that is what this nation is. Again, I suspect most people call themselves “Conservative” because they want the label, not the blame for what the movement actually means.