What It Means To Be Progressive

Our guest blogger is John Podesta, the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

book.gifWhat is progressivism? We all have our own answers to this question. But it’s hard to beat Maury Maverick’s famous — and concise — description of democracy as “liberty plus groceries.” That’s as good an explanation of progressivism as anything I’ve heard.

As I travel the country speaking with students and activists, I’m often asked to offer my own definition of progressive. This is what I frequently suggest:

Progressives believe that America should be a country of boundless opportunity, where all people can better themselves through education, hard work, fair pay, and the freedom to pursue their dreams. We believe that this will be achieved only with an open and effective government that champions the common good over narrow self-interest while securing the rights and safety of its people.

In my new book, The Power of Progress: How America’s Progressives Can (Once Again) Save Our Economy, Our Climate, and Our Country, I outline my own interpretation of progressivism based on history, my personal background, and my years in government and running the Center for American Progress.

Progressivism is rooted in the notion of “progress” — moving from one state of affairs to a better state; from the conservative status quo to new ways of thinking and acting. This was the spirit that allowed progressives to help our country win two World Wars, conquer Gilded Age inequality, make the American Dream a reality for millions of middle class families, and expand civil rights for all our citizens. This is the spirit America needs to apply to today’s challenges.

I’ve posted an excerpt of the book and have also set up a Facebook page with more information and links to buy the book and share with friends. What does progressivism mean to you? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

John Podesta