Protection, fulfillment in life, fairness. When you care about someone, you wish to protect them from harm, you want their dreams to come true, and you want them to be treated fairly.
Freedom, opportunity, prosperity. There is no fulfillment without freedom, no freedom without opportunity, and no opportunity without prosperity.
Community, service, cooperation. Children are shaped by their communities. Responsibility requires serving and helping to shape your community. That requires cooperation.
Trust, honesty, open communication. There is no cooperation without trust, no trust without honest, and no cooperation without open communication.
Just as these values follow from caring and responsibility, so every other progressive value follows from these. Equality follows from fairness, empathy is part of caring, diversity is from empathy and equality.
Progressives not only share these values, but also share political principles that arise from these values.
Equity. What citizens and the nation owe each other. If you work hard, play by the rules, and serve your family, community, and nation, the the nation should provide a decent standard of living, as well as freedom, security, and opportunity.
Equality. Do everything possible to guarantee political equality and avoid imbalances of political power.
Democracy. Maximize citizen participation; minimize concentrations of political, corporate, and media power. Maximize journalistic standards. Establish publicly financed elections. Invest in public education. Bring corporations under stakeholder control, not just stockholder control.
Government for a better future. Government does what America’s future requires and what the private sector cannot do – or is not doing – effectively,ethically, or at all. It is the job of the government to promote and, if possible, provide sufficient protection, greater democracy, more freedom, a better environment, broader prosperity, better health, greater fulfillment in life, less violence, and the building and maintaining of public infrastructure.
Ethical business. Our values apply to business. In the course of making money by providing products and services, businesses should not adversely affect the public good, as defined by the above values.
Values-based foreign policy. The same value governing domestic policy should apply to foreign policy whenever possible. For example:
– Protection translates into an effective military for defense and peacekeeping.
– Building and maintaining a strong community translates into building and maintaining strong alliances and engaging in effective diplomacy.
– Caring and responsibility translate into caring and acting responsibly for the world’s people; world health, hunger, poverty, and ecology; population control (and the best method and women’s education); and rights for women, children, prisoners, refugees, and ethnic minorities.
Given progressive values and principles, progressives can agree on basic policy directions. Policy directions are on a higher level than specific policies. Progressives divide on specific policy details while agreeing on direction. Here are some of the many policy directions they agree on.
The economy. An economy centered on innovation that creates millions of good-paying jobs and provides every American a fair opportunity to prosper.
Security. Through military strength, strong diplomatic alliances, and wise foreign and domestic policy, every American will be safeguarded at home, and America’s role in the world will be strengthened by helping people around the world to live better lives.
Health. Every American should have access to a state-of-the-art, affordable health care system.
Education. A vibrant, well-funded, and expanding public education system, with the highest standards for every child and school, where teachers nurture children’s minds and often the children themselves, and where
children are taught the truth about their nation – its wonders and its blemishes.
Early childhood. Every child’s brain is shaped crucially by early experiences. We support high-quality early childhood education.
Environment. A clean, healthy, and safe environment for ourselves and our children: water you can drink and air you can breathe. Polluters pay for the damage they cause.
Nature. The natural wonders of our country are to be preserved for future generations.
Energy. We need to make a major investment in renewable energy, for the sake of millions of jobs that pay ell, independence from Middle Eastern oil, improvements in public health, preservation of our environment, and the effort to halt global climate change.
Openness. An open, efficient, and fair government that tells the truth to our citizens and earns the trust of every American.
Equal rights. We support equal rights for every area involving race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.
Protection. We support keeping and extending protections for consumers, workers, retirees, and investors.
These and many other policy directions follow from our values and our principles.
The Progressive Ten-Word Philosophy
A stronger America is not just about defense, but about every dimension of strength: Our effectiveness in the world, our economy, our educational system, our health care system, our families, our communities, our environment all are elements of our community and national strength
Broad prosperity is the effect that markets are supposed to bring about. But all markets are constructed for the someone’s benefit; no markets are completely free. Markets should be constructed for the broadest possible prosperity, and they haven’t been.
Americans want and deserve a better future — economically, educationally, environmentally, and in all other areas of life — for themselves and their children. Lowering taxes, primarily for the super-rich elite, has had the effect of defunding programs that would make a better future possible in all of these areas. Fair and progressive tax structures that sufficiently fund essential social programs need to be developed. The proper goal is a better future for all Americans.
Smaller government is, in conservative propaganda, supposed to eliminate waste. It is really about eliminating social programs. Effective government is what we need our government to accomplish to create a better future.
Conservative family values are those of a strict father family — authoritarian, hierarchical, every man for himself, based around discipline and punishment. Progressives live by the best values of both families and communities: Mutual responsibility, which is authoritative, equal, two-way, and based on caring, responsibility (both individual and social), and strength.
A Comparison of Values
Stronger America Strong Defense
Broad Prosperity Free Markets
Better Future Lower Taxes
Effective Government Smaller Government
Mutual Responsibility Family Values
Source: Lakoff, G. 2004. Don’t Think of an Elephant. Chelsea Green Publications, White River Junction, Vermont, pp.90-95.