Progressive Versus Conservative Style
What does it mean to be conservative? To be fully covered up or is it a mindset? To be a progressive does one need to constantly indulge in debauchery?
Considering the recent election results and how the states are now more then ever divided. I thought it would be meaningful to analyze what exactly it means to be conservative and progressive. We will discuss and compare how they think, how they dress, and if whether or not both sides can work together.
What does progressive mean?
To be a progressive means advocating progress, change, and improvement; usually more liberal ideas. This means you believe in equality for all and improvement of the human condition. Progressivism gained popularity in the 17th century during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, with the belief that a society can progress from uncivilized conditions to civil through the basis of empirical knowledge. Empirical evidence is means by the senses, information that verifies truth. In the age where church and state were acting as one entity, you can imagine this was a controversial subject. Scientist and social organizations were and still are vital to the advancement of human life, unfortunately in the 18th and 19th century scientific ideas contradicted with the Catholic church's teachings. People started to question the church, they feared the scientific ideas would threaten their powerful influence.
In the 1890s progressivism grew into a political movement in the United Sates, known as the Progressive Era and spanned into the 1920s. Like much of America today, American progressives represented a range of diverse political pressure groups, still divided even in the 1800's. Many American progressives rejected social Darwinism, believing that societal problems are best handled by offering good education, a safe environment, and a structured workplace. Social Darwinism assumes the strong see their wealth and power increase while the weak only sees it decrease. Where social Darwinism became debunked, many Darwinist groups had prejudice views on which groups of people are considered weak and which are strong, and they hold different "opinions" about the precise procedure that should be used to punish weakness. These views stress competition between individuals in support of authoritarianism, imperialism, racism, fascism, and nazism. After the First World War social Darwinism declined in popularity as a scientific concept. Due to its affiliation with Nazism and to a growing scientific agreement that it was scientifically groundless. During Teddy Roosevelt's presidency many progressives lived mainly in the cities, were well-educated and strongly believed the government could be a tool for change.
What does conservative mean?
Conservative in the United States is a political and social philosophy, that is distinguished by American traditions, Christian values, republicanism, and anti-communism. Along with values rooted in business like free trade, limited government, and American exceptionalism. A strong sense of liberty is a core value for many conservatives, many being religious and opposing human rights legislation like abortion and same-sex marriage. You can't talk about American conservatism without mentioning American exceptionalism, which is a belief that Americas history is so different from any other country just from the simple fact that America was "The First New Nation" and that it emerged from the American Revolution.
In 1776-1793 the Democratic-Republican Party was developed, it was preached to rural-farmers that it was their virtuous duty to fight corruption and greed. To protect their nation and belong to a community. The foundation for republicanism was limiting corruption and avoiding luxury, which was the reason for the downfall for ancient Rome. In this day they believed the republic was sacred and therefore required those who were willing to give up their own personal interests for the common good. They felt to preserve liberty the people must take it into their own hands by doing routine check ins with government officials. The duties of the virtuous citizen became the foundation for the revolution.
Conservatism and Racism
If you ask someone what is America known for, what do you think they would say? Reality TV? Fast food? Our perhaps our unsavory past? It's unfortunate to say but there is a direct link between conservatism and racism, and we can't talk about anything relating to Americas past or future without acknowledging race. In the past, decisions were being made from it, laws passed, as the republic was being created. Race was taken into consideration in the design of the economy, African women, men, and children were used as enslaved labor in the South and in the North. Even if you were not enslaved you had no recourses, they made sure they were excluded from capital and credit markets. Children were often traded like objects, many families displaced. Even being in "free" states in the North did not grant safety in 1741 New York, rumors of a slave rebellion were going around, and 13 black men were burned at the stake, 17 were hanged.
It's important to note that anti-black racism in United States origins are not because of differences between blacks and whites but in economic necessity and power. The ideology of white supremacy is also rooted in Judeo-Christian faith, but fundamentally about economics and the relationships of power. The topic of racism in American is a complex one because it is systemic - a system. Historically, in the unjustly gained economic resources and political power of whites and the complex array of anti-black practices, to rationalize the system.
This multiplex systemic occurrence is what black-American movements have sought to overthrow. Conservatives, unfortunately, have sought to maintain it, prioritizing stability over justice.