The Four Pillars of Progressive Values

The four "basic" pillars of progressive values are freedom, opportunity, responsibility, and cooperation. It seems pretty simple, but what exactly does it mean when it comes to "being a Progressive"? 

Freedom includes freedom from excessive influence by the governments and other parties in our private affairs and personal lives, freedom of speech, association, religion, the right to control our own bodies, and make decisions relating to our own personal lives. The freedom to lead satisfying and secure lives supported by basic economic security and opportunity, including adequate income, economic protection, health care and education, and other social policies that enable that freedom.

Opportunity to pursue anything without the barriers of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion (or lack thereof), or disability being an obstacle. It's embracing the rich diversity of our society by ensuring that *everyone* has the equal chance to make the most of their talents and dreams, not just those who have the money, the power, or the "right skin color / religion / gender / sexual preferences. It's making sure that people have the opportunity to seek those chances by ensuring that the basic conditions are present to allow people to be secure enough to fulfill those ambitions; health care, education, a decent job, labor rights, security in retirement, etc.

Responsibility is our obligation to ourselves and each other. We must be personally responsible to do our part to improve our own lives by putting in the work, taking advantage of the educational opportunities, and more difficult to do, embracing honesty and integrity in our actions. Our responsibility to the common good requires a serious commitment to putting the public interest above the interests of the few, and understanding that strong families and communities are the roots of good society. It means being responsible to strive for and achieve greater social justice and economic conditions that benefit society in broad measures. It also requires government to be responsible for being more open and honest, and for the citizenry to be more engaged and participatory (as is the responsibility of the electorate). Governmentally, the responsibility lies in public investments for things like transportation, trade, innovation, a skilled workforce, protection of the individual's ideas by patents and contractual agreements by having courts that protect them, public safety, and the tools that support the creation of wealth and individual property. The responsibility of a progressive taxation system, as that it is a social responsibility for those who have and earn more to help support public investments like schools, transportation, and things that enable economic competition to advance the interests of the society at a whole. That includes being responsible for ecological and social sustainability by protecting our land, water, air, and natural resources coupled with a more aware and "smarter" use of our energy resources and being more responsible in our consumption of goods.

Cooperation is one of the most important social foundations involving our families, our communities, and our civic and faith groups. Having freedom without cooperation leads to a division in society that results in an inability to work together to achieve common goals and improve the lives of all. It's a value that demands us all to be open-minded and compassionate towards each other, because we are as responsible for their well-being and prosperity as they are for ours. If we blindly pursue our own needs supremely and solely above those of others, society will gradually deteriorate and crumble. Success does not exist without cooperation.

Now, how do these translate into policy? Policies that work to provide health care, education, labor (including jobs paying a livable wage), and engaging environmental protections are the most basic of progressive policies. Laying the groundwork for basic guaranteed income, that's definitely a progressive ideal to work towards, but there's considerable groundwork that we need laid down. In short, policies that advance the common good, that secure and protect our rights, and help create a high quality of life in home, work, and the community itself are *all* progressive.

In the opinion of this writer, there's a lot of third party groups out there that go outside of progressive values and start getting into deconstruction of the government under the existing Constitution... which isn't really progressive, That's why most progressives float in a nether-land between third parties and Democrats, since the Democratic Party is the traditional home of progressive politics prior to a centrist shift in the early 90s to break the 3 term winning streak of the GOP. We, as Progressives, need to decide if the Democratic Party of Kennedy is worth fighting to save, or commit to existing in that "place inbetween".