I have often stated that I am a Progressive. I see a problem, I solve it in a simple way. I repeat. #Progress!
You have often stated that I was an insanely successful juggernaut on the pre-American landscape (I am, of course, paraphrasing…). So, how did I become so successful a Progressive? It came down to two fundamental principles.
Firstly, walk into every room and ask yourself, “how can I make it better?”. This is the staple mentality for any successful Progressive. It implies a concern for the standards of quality in regards to all elements within your vicinity that affect the livelihood of society; both people and environment alike. It also implies a motivation to ensure that those standards are met. It’s not just concern. It’s action.
The other fundamental principle to success is to move with a confidence that borderlines on arrogance. This is the fuel which energizes you. It’s not a comparative, “I’m better than you” mentality. Rather, it’s an understanding that “I am great because I’m trying to improve the lives of all of those around me”. Walk tall because, regardless of how successful your attempt is, you are on the RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY.
“Right Side” of History
That concept, “the right side of history” is not addressed often enough in discourse. It is a nifty mindset that can help you dictate your long-term legacy in the court of public opinion. Any student of history has the ability to predict which side of a conflict will be memorialized because it follows simple guidelines:
- It tears down an oppressive barrier to a group of people
- It ensures positive long-term economic effects that benefit the masses, not just a certain group of people
- It promotes equality amongst the population
Figures throughout history are revered because of their Progressive challenges to oppressive, conservative status-quos:
- Thomas Jefferson for stating “all men are created equal” and establishing the foundation arguments for separation of church and state
- George Washington for surrendering his office of Presidency
- Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery
- Franklin Roosevelt for supporting the working-class
- Ghandi for fighting British imperialism
- Martin Luther King, Jr. for challenging segregation
These men are remembered for their moves that would be considered “Progressive” in their time period. They challenged policies and institutions that had been based off of previous rationale and argument. They altered the course of history for humanity. They opened up opportunities for groups that had once been denied those “inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. They are the ones who are taught about in schools. They are regarded as heroes and are quoted and emulated from people on both sides of political ideology. They are remembered because of their PROGRESSIVISM.
Now, I hope reading this list has raised an eye-brow. That is good, because that means that you can identify the irony…
- The first two men owned hundreds of slaves
- The middle two men were racist
- The last two men were misogynistic
These men were not Gods. Not even Demi-Gods. They were flawed. They had prejudices and biases that prevented them from doing more to ensure equality for all. Often, they were at the forefront of one cause, but disappeared into the mob of contemporary public opinion for other issues. As fair as we think it might be to hope for someone who could push the oppressive boundaries in all directions, this concept is, unfortunately, just not realistic. But all it took was to be on the forefront of one cause, to challenge one indoctrinated evil (and then to prevail) for them to move forward the advancement of society. Did they do something exceptional? Yes. Did they do enough? Probably not. But that’s how change in society occurs…
Society is always evolving for the better. The progress sometimes can be rapid. Sometimes it can feel like it is crawling at a snail’s pace. But it’s still progressing. It is a valuable reminder for Progressives. Because progress implies change, it is going to run into resistance each step of the way. Reactionaries, out of fear or anger, will fight back to sabotage progress, either through hindrance or outright reversal. This is the nature of humans! Depending on the conflict, the level of resistance will fluctuate, but it is always guaranteed. That is why any type of progress is still good.
Progress is not easy. It will never provide a clear path. I heard a great story from Daniel Day Lewis, as he played Abraham Lincoln, and it has always resonated with me:
A compass I learnt when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you true north from where your standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps, deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp, what’s the use of knowing true north?
I am a big supporter of COMPROMISE. Throughout negotiations, you will often have to reach compromise. It makes everyone angry. But it also provides a substantial foundation to build upon. You may not be able to fully open the door that shuts you out. However, if you have compromised to get a foot in the door, then it will become less difficult for the next person to come along and provide the effort to open it further.
For example, the Affordable Care Act. It enforces the Progressive belief that all Americans should be protected in affordable healthcare. It did a lot of good in providing accessible healthcare for approximately 20 million people who couldn’t afford it before. However, there are issues with the bill. Because of the process for a bill to become a law, the ACA was altered and changed to cater to hundreds of members of Congress. Some wanted the ACA to go farther to ensure free healthcare. Most wanted it to do waaaaaay less. The end result was a compromised bill that was complicated and inefficient in many ways. Does it need to be revised? Absolutely. However, it finally ensured that Federal government was going to ensure that poor people had access to healthcare… THAT’S PROGRESS! Down the line, it will hopefully become more efficient. But in the meantime, it is a huge accomplishment for Progressives.
This is not to say that you should settle for minimal progress. It is a constant struggle that will always leave you desiring for more to be done. Humanity will provide you with the most stubborn of opponents in your crusade… always. So you must understand that it is a process. As Progressives, you need to TRUST THE PROCESS, and keep fighting for your desired goals.