Progressives vs Liberals
Not surprisingly, we are seeing a schism in the left. The primary challenge of Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton was the most obvious symptom, but it goes deeper. I have recently heard Sanders supporters like Cenk Uygur, Shaun White and others talk or write about progressives and liberals as if they were two completely different groups – with the progressives following Sanders, Occupy and political revolution, and the liberals following Clinton, the DNC and incrementalism.
Words eventually tend to mean what we want them to mean, but I suspect that most people use progressive and liberal almost interchangeably. Looking at various dictionaries, a strict definition of progressive usually includes believing in progress, change, improvement, or reform, in political matters. A strict definition of liberal usually includes believing that individual freedoms and civil liberties should be guaranteed by law and enforced by government. But many alternate definitions of one word include the other.
Part of the reason for the schism is that so many liberals, whether they know it or not, are giving liberalism a bad name by supporting neoliberalism.
According to Merriam Webster, a neoliberal is “a liberal who de-emphasizes traditional liberal doctrines in order to seek progress by more pragmatic methods.” Pragmatism, or incrementalism, is attractive when one is already comfortable, but many in the lower middle and working class feel that they will never see the benefits promised by establishment Democrats or Republicans. Young voters in particular have little belief in the establishment.
The middle class may be feeling squeezed, but the upper middle class is enjoying good times.
The upper middle class grew to 29.4% of the population in 2014, up from 12.9% in 1979, according to a new Urban Institute report. It defines this group as having household income of between $100,000 and $350,000 for a three-person family.
The rich also expanded their ranks, to 1.8%, up from 0.1%.
The middle class, meanwhile, shrunk — to 32%, from 38.8%. And the share of lower middle class and poor Americans also declined.
When you are thriving, it is difficult to feel the need for radical change. The working class are in roughly the position of all those dogs and cats on the ASPCA videos. The comfortable classes cringe when they have to look at them, but manage to change the channel or hit the mute button.