Progressive Principles

Posted on April 5, 2019 by Diana Roberts

(From George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an elephant”!)

“Progressives not only share these values but also share political principles that arise from these values.”

EQUITY. What citizens and the nation owe each other. If you work hard, play by the rules, and serve your family, community, and nation, then the nation should provide you with a decent standard of living as well as freedom, security, and opportunity.

EQUALITY. Do everything possible to guarantee political and social equality and avoid imbalances of political power.

DEMOCRACY. Maximize citizen participation; minimize concentrations of political, corporate, and media power. Maximize journalistic standards. Establish publicly financed elections. Invest in public education. Bring corporations under stakeholder control, not just stockholder control.

GOVERNMENT FOR A BETTER FUTURE. Government does what America’s future requires and what the private sector cannot do – or is not doing—effectively, ethically, or at all. It is the job of the government to promote and, if possible, provide sufficient protection, greater democracy, more freedom, a better environment, broader prosperity, better health, greater fulfillment in life, less violence, and the building and maintaining of public infrastructure.

ETHICAL BUSINESS. Our values apply to business. In the course of making money by providing products and services, businesses should not adversely affect the public good, as defined by the above values. They should refuse to impose wage slavery and corporate servitude and so should work with unions, not against them. They should pay the true cost of doing business – not externalize, or offload, those costs onto the public (for instance, they should clean up their own pollution). They should make sure their products do no harm to the public. And rather than treat their employees as mere ”resources,” they should see them as community members and assets to the business.

VALUE-BASED FOREIGN POLICY. The same values governing domestic policy should apply to foreign policy whenever possible.

Here are a few examples where progressive domestic policy translates to foreign policy:

1. Protection translates into an effective military defense and peacekeeping.

2. Building and maintaining a strong community translates into building and maintaining strong alliances and engaging in effective diplomacy.

3. Caring and responsibility translate into caring about and acting responsibly for the world’s people; helping to deal with problems of health, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation; population control (and the best method, women’s education); the rights of women, children prisoners, refugees, and ethnic minorities.

All of these are concerns of a value-based foreign policy.

POLICY DIRECTIONS. Given progressive values and principles, progressives can agree on basic policy directions, if not on details. Policy directions are set at a higher level than specific policies. Progressives usually divide on specific policy details while agreeing on directions. Here are some of the many policy directions they agree on.

THE ECONOMY. Investing in an economy centered on innovation that creates millions of good paying jobs and provides every American a fair opportunity to prosper. The economy should be sustainable and not contribute to climate damage, environmental deregulation and, so on.

SECURITY. Through military strength, strong diplomatic alliances, and wise foreign and domestic policy, every American should be safeguarded at home, and America’s role in the world should be strengthened by helping people around the world live better lives.

HEALTH. Every American should have access to a state-of-the-art, affordable health care system.

EDUCATION. A vibrant, well-funded, and expanding public education system, with the highest standards for every child and school, where teachers nurture children’s minds and often the children themselves, and where children are taught truth about their nation – its wonders and blemishes.

EARLY CHILDHOOD. Every child’s brain is shaped crucially by early experiences. We support high-quality early childhood education.

ENVIRONMENT. A clean, healthy and safe environment for ourselves and our children: water you can drink, air you can breathe, and food that is healthy and safe. Polluters pay for the damage they cause.

NATURE. The natural wonders of our country are to be preserved for future generations, and enhanced where they have been degraded.

ENERGY. We need to make a major investment in renewable energy, for the sake of millions of jobs that pay well, improvements in public health, preservation of the environment, and an effort to halt global warming.

OPENNESS. An open, efficient, and fair government that tells the truth to our citizens and earns the trust of every American.

EQUAL RIGHTS. We support equal rights in every area involving race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

PROTECTIONS. We support keeping and extending protections for consumers, workers, retirees, and investors.

“A stronger America is not just about defense, but about every dimension of strength: our effectiveness in the world, our economy, our educational system, our health care system, our families, our communities, our environment, and so forth…

The remarkable thing is just how much progressives do agree on. These are just things that voters tend to care about most: our values, our principles, and the direction we want to take the nation.

I believe that progressive values are the traditional American values, that progressive principles are traditional American principles, and that progressive policy directions point the way to where most Americans really want our country to go. The job of unifying progressives is really is really the job of brining our country together around its finest traditional values.”

Source: Don’t Think Of An Elephant! Know Your Values And Frame The Debate by George Lakoff.

ISBN 978-1-60358-594-1