Politics in Stereo

Western culture prefers to simplify things into two opposing camps, black and white/red or blue/liberal or conservative/left or right. American politics have long been divided into two major parties, and I find this to be one of the most indicative signs of the trend I mentioned above. As an exercise with that thought in mind, I ask my readers, meager handful as they may be, to discuss one of these two topics.

Please do your best to prove either (or both):

  • How American Liberalism is essentially REgressive.
  • How American Conservatism is essentially PROgressive.

What I’m looking for is the historical view looking back, and the outlooks looking forward. As an analogous perspsective, consider Disraeli and Gladstone how the philosophies they embodied served Britain for good or bad. To keep people on the same page, please discuss the overall (macro) view and then choose one or two (micro) points to exemplify.

I consider these points to be counter-factual in reality, but that is my opinion. Even if I get no responses, you must realize that I plan on being a history professor. I think it is a natural fit for me.

1 Comment

  1. Ah, how tricky the English language can be! It is difficult to segregate ideas into two distinct camps when the words applied change meaning in relation to the portion of society you are referring to at the time.

    For instance:
    progressive (adj.)
    1607, “characterized by advancement” (in action, character, etc.), from progress (q.v.). Of taxation, from 1889; of jazz, from 1947. Meaning “characterized by striving for change and innovation, avant-garde, liberal” is from 1908; the noun in this sense is first attested 1865.

    or should we use…
    progressive – adjective
    1. favoring or promoting progress; “progressive schools” [ant: regressive]
    2. favoring or promoting reform (often by government action)
    3. (of taxes) adjusted so that the rate increases as the amount of income increases [ant: regressive]

    When used in the sense of taxation, American Conservatism has typically favored progressive taxation (income tax which disperses the burden based on what is earned) while American Liberalism has favored regressive taxation (sales tax which charges every consumer the same amount despite their ability to pay). An example would be Washington state which leans liberal and has no state income tax, but a 90% sales tax on tobacco and some of the highest hotel/motel taxes in the country vs. Conservative leaning South Carolina which charges a state income tax but has kept sales taxes to a bare minimun (the reason gas is cheaper there than in the rest of the country).

    However, when we apply these terms to education we see Conservatives leaning toward “classical” public education that focuses on the rote learning of facts and “test-able” knowledge that might be considered “regressive” while the Liberals tend to push for progressive education that focuses less on the accumulation of facts and more on experience and process of learning. The problem here is that public education is by nature a Liberal idea, yet even a Conservative state like South Carolina has fallen into the “Liberal” pit and become dependent on Federal funding for its schools. Classical Conservatism (not necessarily the same as “American Conservatism”) would leave education in the hands of the community and perhaps the local government, but not involve the federal government.

    Without getting too much further down the rabbit hole, I venture to propose that perhaps the two sides must be divided into at least four:

    American Economic Liberalism is Regressive
    American Economic Conservatism is Progressive
    American SOCIAL Liberalism is Progressive
    American SOCIAL Conservatism is Regressive

    At least that’s what my brain is telling me while stuck in a little conservative town under buzzing and flickering flourescent lights in a hotel room.

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