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‘Yes, We Can’ Progressivism


‘Yes, We Can’ Progressivism

Harry Boyte

Though it is little noted in discussions of this year’s election, Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign has brought back the essential message of then-Senator Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign of 2008. The core of that message is the word “we,” in contrast with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s frequent use of “I.” However this year’s election turns out, the idea that the people — not politicians — are the most fundamental driver of change is back in the public discussion.


While the premise of People Power in making progressive change possible is solid, I have to question anyone who'd accept Hillary in the Progressive camp.

"The contrast between “we” and “I” has old roots in the progressive tradition. Debates about “socialism” are a diversion — both Sanders and Clinton have legitimate claims to be progressive. But they represent different strands of the progressive tradition: the expert tradition and the populist tradition."

The term WE is also used to feign uniformity and consensus where it doesn't necessarily exist, and individuals who unconsciously (or perhaps, due to their actual status) identify with the military take ITS kill count and frame it as "We killed ________ Iraqis today."

WE are not the MIC.

Unless someone signs up for soldier status, what the military does does not comport to what the citizens do.


For many years I heard Hillary Clinton was a liberal. Now I am hearing she is a progressive or that she is not really a progressive. Since most Democrats were considered liberals until recently shouldn't liberalism enter this discussion. Is there any difference between liberalism and progressivism? If so, what is the difference? Was Bernie Sanders ever considered to be a liberal? Is he a democratic socialist or a progressive? Is there any difference?


Thank you for your ideological support.

I just watched Amy Goodman's show--celebrating her 20 years of journalistic integrity.

There's a scene where she interviews Bill Clinton and he acts like such an arrogant bully LYING about his record (and other things) that if Hillary supporters took a look at that, they might take a different look at Her Majesty.

I just can't believe how awful things are for so many people inside the U.S. and of course, those ensconced in these horrific wars. And I'm perhaps "too informed" about all the calamitous areas of collapse within the natural world.

It's a very painful time to BE an empath.


I take a strong objection to saying Hillary is a kind of progressive. She is a faux progressive in the tradition of Mo Udall. The proper term for these folk is Technocrat.


The split in Progressive thinking mirrors the split that happened in the Socialist movements of that same era ( the late 19th and early 20th. ) I could be wrong and I'm sure some Marxist historian in here will correct me if I am, but as I remember it, the 1st Int'l split along these same lines with the Bolsheviks calling for a "Vanguard of the Proletariat" to lead the Revolution as opposed to the Mensivek call for a more mass democratic / populist approach to the Revolution. Of course we know who won out and the results.


Plus, how does she square her adherence to neo-liberalism and being a Progressive? These two philosophies are radically opposed to each other as far as I can see. I think Hillary and her camp only apply the term to it's cultural and social meanings not to it's economic ones. So she's a Cultural Progressive not an economic one and her emphasis on this is why she and her followers are always ranting on about how Sanders is a one note candidate. In reality, Sanders is just returning to the theme that got Bill Clinton elected in 1992 "It's the economy stupid." Sanders is just reminding the party base and leadership that food and shelter rank at the top of the human hierarchy of needs.