For the last decade the word “progressive” has been used by far-right media as a term of derision, while “conservative” has been praised as its opposite. Nothing could be further from the truth. All democracies have been progressive from their beginnings. In America, politics has progressed from only white men with land being able to vote to eventually the inclusion of black men in decision making, and finally to all men and women regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, level of income or anything else. Democracy is clearly progressive.

The opposite of progressive is not conservative, but “regressive,” the drive to turn back the clock to a simpler time — a time before women claimed the right to decide what was done to their own bodies, a time before technology took away jobs that required no advanced schooling, a time before immigrants showed up willing to work at any jobs available to support their families, a time before an African-American won the highest elected office in the land, in fact, back to a simpler time when white men with land and wealth (men like Trump) made all of our decisions for us.

That is not conservatism. Conservatism is the political orientation that slows down the rate of change within a democracy so that democracy’s natural inclination to progress doesn’t get ahead of itself. At its best, conservatism acts as a cooling mechanism, a voice of experience to quiet the idealistic ardor of youth that fuels progress.

The paradox of today’s Republican Party is that its conservatives have nearly been hounded out of existence by Regressives, screaming cries of RINO! With the voice of true conservativism gone from our Congress, that body has almost ceased to function and so has driven congressional approval ratings to the lowest numbers ever seen.

Dennis Perkins


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