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Bernie and Hillary Twitter Debate Asks: What Makes a "Progressive"?


Bernie and Hillary Twitter Debate Asks: What Makes a "Progressive"?

Jon Queally, staff writer

Bernie Sanders has a few things to say about what makes a progressive a progressive. And he would like potential voters to know more precisely what he means when the specific term is used.

What started initially as a question from a campaign reporter in New Hampshire resulted on Wednesday afternoon with a sparring match on Twitter between Sanders and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.


An important part of being a progressive is making progress. From health care to fighting inequality, Hillary's record speaks for itself.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2016

What more needs to be said, really?


"From health care to fighting inequality, Hillary's record speaks for itself."

It sure does. And her record on heath care insurance reform shows that her botched effort at this back in the 90s set the effort for achieving real health care reform back for a generation.

She's just shameless.


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tautology 101 for the win!


This is an old gripe from me going way back to when liberals shrank from defending their label and decided to burrow under "progressive" without thinking of the consequences.
There is no such thing as a "progressive". It's the philosophical version of a snipe hunt.
Progressive is an alliance between different groups with some common goals. It has a historical place in the US. The Progressive Party was an umbrella party of radicals and socially forward liberals.

Because this is a misapplied label, it becomes a weasel word meaning everything and nothing.

So the question really is, "what makes a liberal?"

In any event, Clinton's record is appalling on even liberal grounds. On her best day, she is a fiscal conservative committed to business with some mild socially liberal impulses. She's decent on some important issues for women, and that needs to be acknowledged, but she will not expend political capital on those issues. But she is also one of the most virulently imperialistic and militaristic US politicians outside of the Republican party (and there are a surprising number of those to her left!).

If the were supposed to be 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, Hillary Clinton clearly makes it 5.


Every speech Hillary says, "We'll protect Obamacare!" That said, she's either clueless or a sociopath.

On January 1 our local health insurer increased our premiums by $204 per month. It's unconscionable, and legal.

Without any price controls and without public option, O-care is damaging to us insured. But don't take my word for it! Ask the Business Agent for Teamsters Local 120 in Dubuque, who represents us. The local newspaper won't touch the story as the insurer is a major advertiser.

At least Tom Harkin had the good sense to sneak out of town after voting for O-care. Congressman Bruce Braley comically thought he could use it in his 2014 campaign for US Senate, and lightweight Joni Ernst buried him in the election.

Obamacare is not affordable or accessible.


The split between liberals and progressives (at least in the recent era (last 30 years or so) came when the Bill Clinton-led Dem Party sold their souls to the corporate elite. Progressives continued leftist politics while the party elites lurched to the right, following the money. The Liberals are now the so-called New Dems including people like DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. They are the ones who are willing to sellout the people if the price is right, supporting what their corporate benefactors desire - e.g., they'll vote in favor of the TPP. They are the so-called "realists," the ones who lack principles and have zero vision...the ones who have zero courage (they like their cushy jobs in DC too much to rock the boat). That is today's liberal - more like the old term liberal as it was defined in the UK.

Regardless of what nuanced position HRC takes, she is a liberal/New Dem, not a progressive.


Yes, and Paul Krugman, using his credentials as a Nobel winner, spits out column after column praising Obama care, calling it a stunning success. Go figure.


Progressives didn't vote "yay" on invading Iraq.

Progressives have never suggested that the likes of Walmart floor workers (and highly paid lawyers) should work longer years before getting Social Security--litmus testing so as to preserve Social Security. Hillary did back in Oct when she presumed she was to be the nominee.


Mine 'only' went up $100. a month.


Clinton is a Goldman-Sachs progressive.


Good post, HisStory. This vexes me; who am I to contradict the esteemed Paul Krugman of the NY Times?

Truly I wish I could acknowledge the positives of ACA. My wife reminds me it helps people with pre-existing conditions to keep their health insurance; I'll grant that. My personal experience informs me that since its delayed implementation, health insurance is neither affordable nor accessible.

When others are gung ho for ACA, I wonder if they're older people on Medicare, young people on their parents' insurance, employees of health insurance companies, or Paul Krugman.

Bernie Sanders pushes single-payer health care for everyone in all of his speeches, and I signed up to be a delegate to our county convention in March. I'll stand for Bernie Sanders.


Using one definition people like Jill Stein, Cris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, etc are the real progressives. But in mainstream politics today basically everyone who in the past would have been called a liberal is now called a progressive. One could argue based on their foreign policies that neither Sanders nor Clinton are really progressives. However, based on their domestic policies they could both be called progressives. In the world of conservatives the word liberal has a strong negative connotation whereas progressive does not seem to evoke strong emotions. So expect Democrats to call themselves progressive as long as it works.


I went to school, years ago , in Davenport, and a friend of mine is a professor in Sioux City, so I've always followed Iowa politics. Glad to hear you are a delegate.


Here is what a Progressive looks like:

Bernie Sanders is a Beast!

Anybody got a comparable demonstration of Hillary being a progressive?

(Thanks to Randi Rhodes for bringing attention to this.)


Thanks for the link. Makes me wonder if that was before or after Greenspan had his 'oops' moment.
Every once in a while its good to be reminded of the contrast between Bernie and the beltway bubbas


Not to or any other posters or theoldgoat. Just a single opinion.

Over eight years ago people lined up and voted for the concept of hope and change. And though some would argue it's not been enough, IMHO there is nothing about Hilary Clinton that represents the hope and change I still believe in.

Can Sen. Sanders continue the many actions of change begun and needs
to be continue that Obama began? So contrary to the pundits who claim
the elderly will support Clinton, this 80 year old life time Democrat, if I
survive to both the CA primary and the general election, will cast my
vote again for a candidate who I believe will make a massive effort to give
me hope for change. Senator Sanders you have my vote.


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Leftists have always disdained the term "liberal." Liberals are those who support the establishment and want to tweak it. They don't want to over turn it, they don't want to change the system, and they don't want to take away the power of the elites from them. Instead they just want to make it gentler, kinder, and not so harsh, so the victims of the hegemony are not quite as victimized.

People to the left of the liberals didn't go to the term progressive out of shame of being seen as too liberal. They did so out of disgust of being associated with the weasel liberals like Humbert Humphrey who got himself on the national stage by purging leftists in Minnesota.

But Clintonistas and their corporatist ilk thought they could triangulate not only the right with their policies but the left with their terms and started calling themselves progressives- meaning something totally different than those who used the term to express their refusal to be a cog in the machine of the establishment Democratic system.

What are liberals? They are those who worked against labor until labor was too powerful, then they sought to co-op them. They are those who demeaned the anti-war activists of the 60s until the war was lost. They are those who laughed at LGBT folk until the entire country changed its mind. They are those who were afraid of Feminism until Second Wave Feminism was tamed and made part of the hegemony.

It has never been liberals who led on all the things liberals like to brag about: 40 hour work weeks, social security, medicare, civil rights. These things all happened because of leftists outside the system agitating and radicals in the streets, in the strikes, in the sit-ins, in the marches. Finally liberals fell in line and then took credit.