We invent viewpoints and attribute them to our opponents. We don’t understand each other. This is ridiculous. We can and should all fight for our points of view—but we shouldn’t fight phantoms.
This is my attempt to clear up some confusion. I won’t get it all right, but I hope it’s close enough to begin to change the conversation so we are talking TO and not AT each other.
I have left out Greens and Libertarians only because I thought this essay was getting too long and confusing. That said, Greens think Progressives are largely correct, but tactically foolish by working within the corporate-funded Democratic Party. And the Libertarians are mostly happy to work with the Republicans as close enough, although they have some disagreements with the GOP.
How Liberals See Themselves
Liberals see themselves as defenders of equal rights. They see various groups classified as “other” and fight for each group to be treated as equals. They see violence and discrimination as rampant against minorities and women and seek to end this.
Liberals see themselves as proponents of humane treatment by the government. They want help for Americans with education, healthcare, retirements and other challenges. Liberals see themselves as reasonable and pragmatic, wanting achievable reforms, not unrealistic extreme changes.
How Conservatives See Liberals
To Conservatives, Liberals are lazy, and live in their parents’ basements. They want everything for free.
Liberals want to take away people’s guns, their liberty, and their Christianity. Liberals hate the traditional family and are a threat to this backbone of America.
Liberals are against capitalism—which is freedom itself—and favor socialism and communism, which are simply failed forms of dictatorship.
Liberals have politicized science in their opposition to capitalism. COVID panic and climate change are lies or exaggerations designed to damage the economy and promote socialism.
Liberals want to control language itself and behave like thought police, trying to silence Conservatives. They promote all kinds of lifestyles that are perversions before God—homosexuality, transsexuals, whatever—as normal and even desirable “diversity.”
Liberals are all going to hell.
How Progressives See Liberals
Liberals are tepid proponents of justice and equity, unwilling to take the steps necessary. They are also unwilling to do what’s necessary to save the planet, opposing the Green New Deal.
Liberals, like Conservatives, take money from the rich and serve wealthy corporations at the expense of the American people. When it comes to foreign policy, Liberals are essentially neocons, ready to invade and occupy other countries for invented reasons.
How Conservatives See Themselves
Conservatives see themselves as the true patriots. They believe in law and order and view left wing protests as violent and disorderly. They believe in the second amendment as see guns as the only way to defend their liberty. They believe in the sanctity of unborn life and view their opponents as baby killers. They believe in Christianity and see their opponents as a threat to their religious freedom.
How Liberals See Conservatives
Conservatives are hypocrites. They used to “believe” in balanced budgets (as an excuse to slash benefits people received from their tax dollars), but now happily create huge deficits with gigantic tax cuts for the wealthy and huge expanded military budgets.
Conservatives “believed” in small government but now that they control the Federal government, they use Federal power to control every aspect of our lives, in the most pernicious and dangerous ways.
Conservatives are racially insensitive or racists. They see videos of police murdering unarmed black people and make excuses for the police and vilify the victims.
Conservatives are theocrats, making up imaginary oppression (the atheist Liberals have stopped us from saying “Merry Christmas”) and calling for suppression and violence against non-Christians, notably Muslims.
Conservatives are hateful and greedy, always looking out for “me” never “us.” They want all the benefits people get from their tax dollars to be slashed or eliminated—no Medicare, no Social Security, no Medicare, nothing.
Conservatives are fake Christians, opposing Jesus’ own words to love one another, turn the other cheek, and care for the poor. They side with the bad guy in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Conservatives are anti-science, promoting policies that maximize the spread of COVID and accelerate climate catastrophe. They make up insane “explanations” for their alternative “science.” Conservatives threaten the very survival of our species.
How Conservatives See Progressives
Conservatives see Progressives the same way they see Liberals. To Conservatives, there is no difference between Liberals and Progressives. They are both Godless Communists out to destroy America.
How Progressives See Conservatives
Progressives see Conservatives similarly to how Liberals see Conservatives.
How Progressives See Themselves
Progressives see themselves as proponents of the interests of the 99%. They want our tax dollars used to help people. They oppose the use of tax dollars to go to the wealthy and to military contractors. They want fundamental change, not incremental, in how the government helps Americans with healthcare, retirement, education and other financial challenges. Progressives don’t see these changes as extreme or unrealistic—they see them existing in some form in most other modern democratic countries.
Progressives, like liberals, see themselves as champions of equal rights and human rights. The so-called detention centers are concentration camps for people of color and those prisons must be closed. Police must be held accountable when they kill unarmed black people. White collar criminals must face justice.
Progressives see themselves as proponents of representative government and oppose corporate money in our electoral process. They also oppose corporate lobbyists working with our representatives. They believe that our representatives should be listening to and serving the American people, not the rich. Progressives want to end plutocracy and establish true representative government.
How Liberals See Progressives
Liberals see Progressives as unrealistic people who damage the chances of actual reform. They see Progressives as tactically stupid, perfectionists who’s insistence on ONLY their way is divisive and threatening to any efforts at making the world we live in a better place.
Liberals see Progressives as extremists and even cultists. Trump supporters and Sanders supporters as psychologically similar. You can’t reason with either.
How I See Things
I think a lot of our disagreements center on what we consider to be important and worthy of our focus. In many ways, I agree with the Progressives but it would be a mistake to classify me with the Progressives because my focus is narrower and, in some cases different.
I am very different from Conservatives on both focus and world view.
And I largely share the Progressive views of Liberals, albeit with little or no anger.
Finally, I think methods and strategies are very important and feel closest to anyone who’s committed to nonviolence, regardless of their Liberalism/Conservatism/Progressivism.
I believe the most important issues, in order of importance are: 1) saving the planet from climate/environmental destruction, 2) ending plutocracy which is the engine of many of the world’s evils, 3) rejecting the concept of “the other” which is responsible for division, racism and many forms of discrimination and hatred.
Other issues are important, but less so.
Finally, I believe we must recognize our common humanity, even if we fail to agree on politics and other issues. We must do this deeply and personally. If you are a religious Christian, this is simply Jesus’ command to love one another. If you are a humanist, recognizing our common humanity is simply scientific truth. Both religious and non-religious world views should lead to the same conclusion.