I’ve been thinking for years about the title of this blog. It was something I chose as an unemployed recent college graduate hoping to maybe make a hodgepodge career out of writing (still a life goal!).
I thought about it for weeks before finally committing to “Confessions of a Progressive,” and since then I still find myself second guessing it from time to time.
Is it too childish? Does it sound like a high schooler? Is it too long? Is it not catchy enough?
I mulled it over again before officially purchasing the domain, and I decided to stick with it. Because it really is me.
So why the confessions?
I mean, guys, I’m really an open book. I just am. Always have been. If you ask me, there is really nothing greater in life than genuine human connection, and this requires vulnerability. Writing, for me, has always been about connection — about recording my stories and throwing out my fears in the hopes that someone out there feels the same. We learn from each other and better understand ourselves when we share our stories. Writing is about feeling. And even though it’s scary as hell to put yourself out there, in my experience it is absolutely worth it.
The thing is I don’t know how to be anything other than confessional. I put it all out there. I can’t imagine having a blog where I consciously hold back. That’s not the point. I’m just really into giant heart-to-hearts for the whole world to see.
And the progressive part?
I started reading the opinion pages of my hometown paper, The Wichita Eagle, in early high school every single day, every single word. It was through the words of syndicated columnists like Anna Quindlen and Leonard Pitts, and local voices like Mark McCormick (who still appears in the Eagle) that I dreamed of writing social and political commentary.
While this blog is very much about the personal, my hope is to also weave it into the political. (The personal is political after all).
It’s no surprise that I lean to the left in my politics, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I adopted the label “progressive.” I have no issue with the word “liberal,” but I do not think that label necessarily encompasses my world view. Some people use the two terms interchangeably, but to me there is a very real difference.
I am not necessarily a Party person. (That is, political party person.) In fact, on the federal level, I see very few differences between the Democrats and the Republicans. Both are bought and owned by the giant corporations that run our economy. Both operate within our broken political system where elites buy access and the rest of us are never heard. Look no further than the bank bailouts of 2008 (the doing of BOTH the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration), and it’s clear. Neither Party in Washington shows up for the middle class. The financial crises provided a perfect opportunity to bring about true financial reform and address the vast inequalities in our economy. Instead, the banks went back to business as usual and our leaders chose not to hold them accountable.
The same can be said for health care. While the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare. FYI, it’s the same thing) has done a lot of really good things (allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, prohibiting the practice of denying insurance based on “pre-existing conditions,” capping the amount of money from premiums health insurance companies can spend on “administrative costs”, and by and large expanding access to millions of people), it is still a law based on the problematic reality that profit margins run our health care system. The law mandates that everyone purchase private health insurance. It doesn’t get more capitalist than that.
Yes, incremental change is still change, and yes the ACA was a victory after decades of fighting for health care reform, and yes progress is slow. But I will always push to be better. If the system is broken, fix it. Address the problem at its core, not merely its symptoms.
To be clear, I agree with the vast majority of liberal ideology and liberals do fight very hard for progress. In some contexts I do identify as a liberal. But especially when it comes to economic issues, I just don’t think liberalism does enough.
This article from Alternet sums it up nicely:
“Economic liberalism has typically focused on using the government’s treasury as a means to ends, whether those ends are better healthcare (Medicare/Medicaid), stronger job growth (tax credits) or more robust export businesses (corporate subsidies). The idea is that taxpayer dollars can help individuals afford bare necessities and entice institutions to support the common good.
Economic progressivism, by contrast, has historically trumpeted the government fiat as the best instrument of social change — think food safety, minimum wage and labor laws, and also post-Depression financial rules and enforcement agencies. Progressivism’s central theory is that government, as the nation’s supreme authority, can set parameters channeling capitalism’s profit motive into societal priorities — and preventing that profit motive from spinning out of control.”
So there you have it. The personal, the political…and even a little radical.