COLUMN FROM 12/27/20 issue
Before you jump the gun and scream “No”, read on.
Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform.
As an adjective: favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters:
As a noun: a person who is progressive or who favors progress or reform, especially in political matters.
The Progressive movement takes into consideration social justice, advancement of science, religion, environmental conditions and political status. Bottom line, society and people change over time.
Now, before you claim progressive agendas goals are not your cup of tea, think again. Here are what was considered “progressive” stands from the past.
The 13th Amendment: According to posts by the History Channel, before the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and other leaders of the anti-slavery Republican Party sought not to abolish slavery but merely to stop its extension into new territories and states in the American West. This policy was unacceptable to most Southern politicians, who believed that the growth of free states would turn the U.S. power structure irrevocably against them. In November 1860, Lincoln’s election as president signaled the secession of seven Southern states and the formation of the Confederate States of America. Shortly after his inauguration in 1861, the Civil War began. Four more Southern states joined the Confederacy, while four border slave states in the upper South remained in the Union.
Lincoln, though he privately detested slavery, responded cautiously to the call by abolitionists for emancipation of all enslaved Americans after the outbreak of the Civil War.
Bottom line, opinions changed over time and, although most Western countries had already abandoned slavery. It took much prodding and a civil war to push this “progressive” move.
The 19th Amendment: The movement took generations and “granted women the right to vote.” Again, the United States and public opinion took years, over a century of protests and haggling before the U.S. joined most civilized western nations. It was ratified in August of 1920.
Child labor, unionization, education, social security, working conditions, climate change, voting rights, all were what was considered revolutionary and progressive for their times.
Today, we face abortion rights, universal health care, still some voting procedures, marijuana legalization, and the death penalty as top “progressive” movements. Public opinion’s pendulum is swinging to the left on all these measures, most of which have been adopted by most western nations over the decades, will eventually be accepted.
Perhaps, not by you, but overall public drive will address and change over time.
Will a Biden Presidency end the death penalty?
Despite a shift by the American public against the death penalty, the U.S. government under President Donald Trump has carried out the most federal executions ever in a single year.
Three more executions were scheduled before Christmas. President-elect Joe Biden, however, made eliminating the death penalty part of his criminal justice reform platform, marking a reversal from his past support for capital punishment.
“Executions are a form of torture that violate the Eight Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment,” says David Dozier (www.DavidDozierBooks.com), a professor emeritus in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University and author of The California Killing Field, a novel about the death penalty.
You see, public opinion sways politicians, as does world opinion, on what was once considered a “progressive” country.
Will some Conservatives and some Republicans howl? You bet, but that will not deter change in human acceptance and behavior.
The ‘Trump Age’ may be the beginning of the end for the far, far right. Yes, there will be hurdles to overcome, but even rabid far rightists have their day in the sun before extinguishing into reality. Remember slavery, women’s right to vote, child labor...? Those were progressive movements the people of the times thought would never happen.
Gosh, even animal rights have vastly improved over the decades.
We may not like all the ‘progressive’ positions of today, but history shows most will happen.