You May Not Be as “Progressive” as You Think

I get it. I really do. You have decided that you feel so strongly abut your favorite issues that you are a “real progressive.” I mean;

  • You have talked yourself into believing that “Medicare for All” is the only way to fix healthcare once and for all.
  • You claim t care about the poor so much, you have convinced yourself that everyone in the country should make at least $15 per hour.
  • You think too many college students graduate with too much debt, and the only “logical” answer is “free tuition” at all public colleges.

Let me clue you in on a little something. Most moderate voters actually believe those are important issues. If they disagree at all, it is on the solutions. And yet, because they don’t agree with you on all of your stances on the issues that you have decided are most important, you label them “centrist” and dismiss them in the same way you dismiss the extreme far right.

That is not progressive.

See, you can call yourself “a progressive” all you want, just like the far right has taken to calling themselves “conservatives.” However, they are in no way “conservative” just as you may be in no way “progressive,” especially if you dismiss everyone who doesn’t agree with you 100 percent.

Take those who dismiss my admonition that you can’t be anti-Democrat and continue to call yourselves a progressive. It’s true. I’m a hardcore progressive, too. I am as liberal as one can possibly be. The only difference between the extreme far left and me is that I have learned to temper my idealism with reality. And the reality is, the root word of “progressive” is “progress,” and we cannot make progress without a government that is at least willing to listen to us. Also, a part of reality is, there are not enough of us to constitute a majority; we need centrists/moderates on our side to get anything done. That means, whenever you dismiss someone who isn’t as rabid as you are about certain things, you are dismissing any chance we progressives have of winning. And if we don’t win – if we hand every election over to the current incarnation of the Republican Party – most progress will continue to head backward, as it has since we allowed St. Reagan to beat Carter because we were butthurt over Kennedy losing.

Besides; no one is 100 percent right about anything. Let’s look at those three issue stances, which are mainstays in Bernie Sanders’ stump speech, which is the essence of his entire political being and which hardcore unicorn progressives recite by rote. We’ll take them in order, and prove you’re not 100 percent right on all of them:

  • “Medicare for All” is not the issue. Universal access to healthcare is the issue. Medicare for All is merely one way to pay for it. It’s not even necessarily the best way to do so. For one thing, there are at least two versions of “Medicare for All.” In one, we allow people to buy into the Medicare system. That’s fine, but there is almost no discussion of the fact that Medicare only pays for 80 percent of basic healthcare, and it doesn’t include coverage for eye, teeth and ear health. In other words, if you end up in an accident, you have to pay 20 percent of the bill, which can run to thousands of dollars. If the system goes through with your fantasy of eliminating private insurance altogether, who pays the other 20 percent? Under current Medicare, private insurance covers that, and they also cover vision, dental and such necessities as hearing aids. Not Medicare, but private insurance. The second version is another fantasy version, in which everyone is forced into Medicare and Medicare covers 100 percent of all costs related to health. Again, no private insurance, but also no discussion of where we get the $32 trillion over ten years it will take to pay for that.

One more thing: here is The WHO list of countries with the best healthcare systems. (Source: ) We are #37. Of the 36 countries ahead of us in outcomes, only two – the Uk (#18) and Canada (#30) are single-payer, socialized systems. All the rest are hybrid systems that are much like the ACA, except that they have a public insurance option available. So, if single-payer is the best system, how come the best universal healthcare countries in the world seem to prefer something similar to the ACA?

Let’s look at the next one:

  • Most economists measure inflation using 1968 as a control. In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.60 per hour. In order t keep up with inflation, that means the national minimum wage should be $11.86 in 2019. Besides being less than the $12 per hour national minimum wage that Hillary proposed in 2016, it is more than $3 per hour less than the national minimum wage white liberals insist on now. And it’s ludicrous. It’s an arbitrary number that works in most cities and in a scant few states, like California and New York, but there are many parts of the country where such a high minimum wage will put many small companies out of business. That’s not conjecture, that’s a fact. Most places who can handle a $15 minimum have already adopted it, and many of the large corporations, like Walmart and McDonald’s, which were notorious for low wages, have also raised their minimums considerably. Target, for example, will have a minimum of $13 per hour in June, and will raise that to $15 in 2020. By later this year, Costco’s minimum will be $15.50. Even Walmart and McDonald’s have instituted a minimum of $11 per hour now. In other words, good work getting so many companies, cities and states to raise their minimum wage, but demanding $15 in Mississippi and Alabama isn’t realistic.
  • One of the biggest problems with the student loan system comes with the students themselves. The first time I went to college, in the late 1970s, getting financial aid was a pain in the ass, to be sure, but we all learned to live on as little as possible. Ramen noodles were a food staple in college, and we could coupon with the best of them. We hoarded coupons to Der Weinerschnitzel, so we could get 4 chili dogs for a dollar, and we could sometimes afford to pool our money to get some ground beef at 49 cents per pound at the Safeway, but spaghetti was eaten at least 3-4 times per day. Now, at the same school, virtually every student has a MacBook Pro and the school’s bookstore has a Lancome counter and an Apple Store, I shit you not. Yet, the solutions always place the sale blame for student debt on the banks or Sallie Mae, when the students are not being taught how to take on as little debt as possible and hw to take on the debt when the bill comes due. However, that is not the problem I have with the “free college” solution to the problem.

Once again, the progressives who preach “free college” harken back to the bygone days of yore – days before they were born, when the University of California was one of several that offered free tuition for taxpayers. What they forget is, college costs more to provide nowadays than it did then. There is the cost of technology to consider, as well as the cost of building new facilities, and the increased cost of bringing in 10,000 more students when tuition is gone. Not to mention the fact that, if you make it free, it’s free for everyone, which means the inner city family who wants their child to be the first to go to college will then have to compete for a free slot with a wealthy family who can afford to prepare their children for free college.

More practical is DEBT-free college. You do that by offering increased means-tested grants for public state schools, so that no one needs to take out a loan to go to school. Those who can afford to pay will pay, while those who can’t afford it still get an opportunity to prepare for the career they want.

One last thing…

There are two major political parties in this country, and 98 percent of candidates who win will be from one of those two parties. That’s just a fact. One of those parties HATES us. They treat the words “liberal” and “progressive” as jokes and they treat us like we’re the enemy. The other party, the Democratic Party, embraces us and welcomes us in, along with all minorities and women who are willing to join. if you see both parties as basically the same, you’re not very smart. And if you’re not doing everything you can to make sure Democrats win every election over Republicans, you are not progressive.

Being progressive requires a lot more than wishing for things to be better. It means guiding as much progress as we can get, every chance we get. Follow the leads of the minorities who make up the Democratic base. Black Women are the heart and soul of our party, so when you refer to the “Democratic establishment,” that’s who you’re discussing. Which should be a good thing, right? Black women being the establishment is a sign of progress. If you don’t see it, you’re just white, and not as “progressive as you think you are.


You May Not Be as “Progressive” as You Think — 10 Comments

  1. There must be someone commenting who has me blocked. At any rate, good job as usual Milt. Especially those last two sentences.

  2. Re: $15/hr: “but there are many parts of the country where such a high minimum wage will put many small companies out of business”.

    GOOD! If a business can’t pay a living wage it *should* fail and close it’s doors. Let someone more effective have the space.

    If the minimum wage from the 60’s had kept pace with inflation *and* worker productivity, i.e. all the new wealth created *by* those workers, it would be about $22/hr. If it had kept pace with executive pay increases, it would be over $30/hr.

    • “Good!”????? You’re not very smart about economics. First of all, there are many places in the country where $10 is a “living wage.” You are a doctor in Philadelphia, which means you can’t relate to the people this would affect. Philly is a much more expensive place to live than, say , rural Arkansas or Mississippi. Your inane comments about “inflation and worker productivity” are purely ignorant.

    • In my state Min wage is $10.15. We’re also suffering through the lowest unemployment rate since 1969. Seems to me that a higher wage and business prosperity can certainly coexist.

      I do tend to agree though about the wage gap. Or the larger picture, income inequality. It’s one of the more serious problems we face today. I can’t help but think that if more of the worker class had higher incomes, they could buy more stuff and drive the economy!

      I would also add, that we should to try to stay on topic. But that’s a personal opinion.

  3. Not sure how you get bernard out of this. Bernie is not known for compromising.
    As such, not sure we are even on the same wave here.

  4. It’s OK to be idealisting with your values. But it’s not OK to be unbending and unforgiving. Life is all about compromise. We all do it every single day. Politics is the same way. You want to advance at work, you have to agree to some compromise. If you want to advance your political values, and everybody has political values that they feel should be advanced and they may not always agree with each other, then we all have to compromise.

    • You sound like one of those “All Lives Matter” folks….Tell a black mother whose son was shot for a busted tail light on his car by a militant cop who swore to protect and serve “everyone” not just certain ones…..but somehow shows restraint when a domestic terrorist kills people of color in church and gets treated to Burger King…..yea how’s that for freaking compromise??

      • Besides no one talking about that, a white guy taking up the BLM mantle is one reason why so many minorities can’t stand white liberals… good job.

      • You know, not once did I say that we should always compromise on every issue. However, I do think you know this. What you presented is a classic straw man argument. Seriously, you do know the difference, just as I do.

        The BLM and other similar issues do at times require some compromise. That does NOT say that we should or can forgive, forget, or in other ways diminish social injustice. Though based only on what I was in your comment, I’m pretty sure you’re just going to jump back on the straw man and ride it to death.

        • “Life is all about compromise. We all do it every single day.” Hmmmmm I guess you didn’t mean this? To bad that mother who buries another child can’t jump back on the “straw man”! LOL love the BLM and other similar issues comment….what other similar issues (WLM…lol)?? SMH….the only thing Steve got wrong is you definitely a Bernie Stans!!