The Newnan Times-Herald


Progressivism about compassion, opportunity

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Mar. 20, 2019 - 5:59 PM

Mr. Reed, my first intention was to respond to your letter point by point.

However, trying to convince others who seem to share your viewpoint has proven fruitless as they tend to want to avoid facts that contradict their views. For instance, I recently had a conversation where I was told that Democrats just made up the title of "Democratic Socialism” or Progressivism to distance themselves from the long standing failures of a political system.

In actuality, this philosophy was first conceived by the Independent Labour Party in the U.K. in the late 1890s. In the United States, Progressivism became popular in the early part of the 20th century and was a philosophy shared by Democrats, led by Woodrow Wilson, and Progressive Republicans, led by Teddy Roosevelt.

In her book about FDR, “The Roosevelt I Knew,” Frances Perkins described this school of thought embraced by progressive politicians on both sides of the aisle in the early 1900s as follows. “Foremost was the idea that poverty is preventable, that poverty is destructive, wasteful, demoralizing, and that poverty in the midst of potential plenty is morally unacceptable in a Christian and democratic society. One began to see the ‘poor’ as people, with hopes, fears, virtues, and vices, as fellow citizens who were part of the fabric of American life instead of a depressed class who would always be with us.”

If you believe, like my friend, that progressives are trying to distance themselves from “failures” of a political system, please tell me which of these progressive policies that you would like to end: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, 40-hour work week, paid vacations, overtime pay, the GI Bill, publicly funded hospitals and clinics, unemployment insurance, disability pay, child labor laws, minimum wage, civil rights, voting rights… I could go on, but you should get the idea.

Basically, I would describe Progressivism with two words. First, compassion. We should all be concerned with the needs of our fellow man and how we can work together to fulfill those needs. Second, opportunity. We should all want a level playing field where all people, regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs or any other differences, have the opportunity to succeed and live a life without fear of hunger, homelessness or inability to treat health problems because when more people succeed, it makes a stronger country for all of us.

All of my progressive friends share these beliefs. Unfortunately it seems that there are no longer Republicans who believe in these ideals.

Tom Thomason