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Progressive Values Documentary Project

I'm working on a documentary on the topic of Progressive Values.  I'd like to start a Dairy here to explore the topic of Progressive Values from all angles. Sort of an 'All Values all the Time' diary.  So, this is the first post. Here are some links for the project;

Overview Of Project on
Contains all the links I've found that relate to the subject of Progressive Values. Let me know if you know of any others.

Progressive Values YouTube Channel
A YouTube video channel for exploring what Progressive Values are. Focusing on values and the stories of how people developed them. I'm interviewing people on the subject and placing the clips here. It's also a place to aggregate other videos on the topic. From the videos posted here we are making a documentary.

What are Progressive Values? Study Group on DFA Link
A Democracy For America group to discuss and study the topic of Progressive Values.

Howard Dean on the Importance of Values

At the 'Take Back America 2007' Conference, Howard Dean addressed the need for Progressives to articulate their values. He explained how the Republicans have used an appeal to values to effectively communicate with the country.  Howard Dean offered; Fairness, Toughness and Responsibility as Progressive Values to rally around.

Below is just the 6 minute part of his speech that deals with Progressive Values. I find it's a nice introduction to the importance of values.

Progressive Values? Howard Dean - Fairness, Responsibility, Toughness
(The Full 30 minute speech can be found here on google video.)

Rockridge Institute

George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute think tank have done a great deal of work on Progressive Values. In this clip, George explains the values and the world view of Conservatives and Progressives. Also, how Conservative are promoting their values through the family and politics.

Family Values - Rockridge Nation Video Series

Here is a clip from Joe Brewer.  I interviewed Joe on Earth Day doing some clean up in Oakland, California. Turns out he is a fellow at Rockridge Institute and Joe gives a quick run down of the Rockridge view of Progressive Values.  He is saying the foundation of Progressive Values is  empathy, from which other values grow out of.

Progressive Values? Joe Brewer - Empathy


  • feeling of concern and understanding for another's situation or feelings. Also, an emotional feeling of identification or understanding of a work of art.
  • understanding another person's feelings by remembering or imagining being in a similar situation.

Center for Policy Alternatives

Another organization that's done work on Progressive Values is the Center for Policy Alternatives. They lay out their list of Progressive Values of;   Freedom, Opportunity, Security, Responsibility.

Some questions

The way I'm trying to find out what Progressive Values are, is to interview as many Progressives as possible and see what pattern emerges. I'm also looking for personal stories of how those values became important to people.

I think there needs to be a more grass roots democratic way of uncovering and articulating the values. More of a personal stories based approach. I do appreciate how the think thanks have brought the importance of values to the forefront.  It's a good starting point for the discussion.

  • Is Howard Dean on target or not?
  • Are Progressive Values more than just Fairness, Responsibility, Toughness?
  • What's your take on how the different Think Tanks have articulated Progressive Values?
  • What do you feel Progressive Values are? Why?
  • What's the story of how those values became important to you?
  • Do you know of any other resources on the topic of Values?
  • What questions should be asked to illuminate the subject?


Originally posted to WhatAre Progressive Values on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 02:54 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Progressive value: the rule of law (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Personally, I like the word "principle" more than "value."  It's easy to get sidetracked by issues and then move into the laundry list, rather than pulling back and taking as universal and as comprehensive a view as possible.

    Relevant post of mine from last night:  Why

    Law is the specifics of the agreement we make with each other to obtain our freedom.  Just law either constrains everyone such that people do not take away each others' freedom, or it provides equality of opportunity to enhance freedom for a greater portion of the population.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 03:02:05 PM PDT

    •  Principles versus Values versus Spirit (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueyedace2, Simplify, dragoneyes, jamess


      That brings up a point I've been wondering about. The definition of the different terms.  

      For me, for example, freedom is a feeling.  I like to think of it as a spirit. (I take that from the German word Geist, for example, Zeitgeist or spirit of the times, refers to the dominant values of the time.

      Once you start ranking the different "spirits", Freedom, responsibility, empathy, discipline, etc.  You get values. It seems to me that the term Values, has an element or focus on the ranking of the spirits.


      • "Abstract ideas about what a society believes to be good, right, and desirable.
      • The fundamental principles and beliefs that guide a community-driven process. These are the central concepts that define how community members aspire to interact. The values provide a basis for action and communicate expectations for community participation.
      • are things, people or attitudes that groups of individuals think are important or to be revered or respected"
      • etc

      To me, Principle, has a greater deal of abstraction to it.


      • "an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles.  
      • a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics.  
      • a fundamental doctrine or tenet; a distinctive ruling opinion: the principles of the Stoics.  
      • principles, a personal or specific basis of conduct or management: to adhere to one's principles; a kindergarten run on modern principles.  "
      •  etc

      The word the Republicans use is Values, I don't hear them talking much about Principles.

      •  "The fundamental principles and beliefs" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That's exactly it, though.  When I define myself to others, I tend to take a more scientific tack -- what I can support with evidence -- and leave aside belief -- what I think is true even though I don't have concrete evidence for it.

        This may be why conservatives like the word "values," while the term isn't as popular in the liberal lexicon.  For many conservatives, to make something true (e.g. we only lost in Vietnam Iraq because we weren't tough enough), you only have to believe in it hard enough.

        "Values" seem to me more like "what I think is important."  "Principles" are definitions of interactions.  To extend that physics analogy, values would be properties like entropy and time, while a principles would be a relationship like the second law of thermodynamics.

        So, what are my values?  The right to life and liberty.  Principles?  The rule of law, consent of the governed/accountability, equality.

        I might be outside the scope of what you're looking for, though, since I self-identify as liberal.  Call me progressive if you like.

        Here's a good discussion, including an old comment of mine:

        To me, "liberal" means making everyone as free as possible, while "progressive" means improving everyone's lives.

        Of course they are not mutually exclusive in the slightest.  I'd say being liberal is the best way to be progressive, but that the root is being liberal.  Progressivism on its own feels a little mushy -- what's the core principle?  
        Markos is a progressive, and he openly says that he's non-ideological and that winning is what's important.  That is useful but doesn't address the root question of, "What do Democrats stand for?"  Why does government even exist?  If it's to improve everyone's lives, but the "how" is unspecified, that's an insufficient (or even dangerous) definition.

        I feel that progressivism relies too much on the good will of man.  Liberalism on its own is too cold because it assumes each person will act logically and out of self-interest, but at least it accounts for selfish actions.  (Plus, selfish is not necessarily bad; "tend your garden," as Voltaire might say.)  

        [...]  Maybe that's a good way to boil it down to a clean formula, by rights:

        • Liberal:  life, liberty
        • Progressive:  life, liberty, pursuit of happiness
        • Libertarian:  life, liberty, property
        • Conservative:  life, material property*

        * Slight edit there.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 04:30:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the feelig of spirit, values and reason (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dragoneyes, jamess

          I don't see spirit and values as necessarily based on belief (i.e. faith). I see it rather as based on experience and feelings. Being controlled and suppressed, let's say, generally has an unpleasant feeling. Whereas the feeling I have with being able to freely express myself, is pleasant and enjoyable. There's a feeling of having an inspiration and idea and being able to express and manifest it.

          I recall going to East Berlin during the cold war, and feeling the oppression. The way the police looked at me, the fear people had talking to me. So I have a visceral feeling of what oppression felt like.

          Science(Reason)has it's own visceral feeling. I've heard many stories of scientists having moments of inspiration with their work.

          When you "define yourself to others, and take a more scientific tack -- what I can support with evidence"
          what does that feel like?

          more later,


  •  Excellent project (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueyedace2, jamess

    I have added your diary to my "read next" list and will try to get back later to do some more digging. I'm interested in what you are doing, and will help as I can.

    Bruce in Louisville
    And the blog is Eclectic Thinker

    by bmaples on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 03:35:50 PM PDT

  •  I'll give your project some thought (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueyedace2, Simplify, ormondotvos, jamess

    Meanwhile suggest not reacting to political opposition or seeking to come up with the most universal principles (agree with "Simplify's" comment above that "principles" a better term than "values" which is media code lingo for "faith" etc) "shared by all but we do them better" (like "responsibility") rather than principles that are unique to being progressive. So with "fairness, toughness and responsibility" (any reason just 3? maybe 5 or 6 principles), "toughness" sounds like a reaction to tough conservatives who call liberals "weak" and "responsibility" sounds like a reaction to accusation against liberals that we're irresponsible and permissive, etc. "Fairness" comes close to a genuine and uniquely progressive principle in my book.

    So your frame needs work. We're looking for progressive principles that are uniquely and positively progressive, that demarcate the liberal position as it stands up for itself in the world. This is the approach to your search I would suggest.

    "Putting people first" is a good progressive principle, #1 on my list. This includes "empathy." They don't have to be one-word principles, I hope. More later.  

    •  Values as code for Faith (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueyedace2, dragoneyes, jamess


      I think your addressing the point when you say,  "values which is media code lingo for faith".  The point being that Conservatives have taken over the word Values. If there's not a strong counter from the Progressives to this, the conservatives will continue to own the word.  Sounds like you want to abandon the word to then and take on another word (principles) in it's place.

      I will do a separte diary post shortly on all the negatives connotations the word values has to people. I'm quite fascinated by all the negativity surounding the word.

      Not sure what you mean by my frame needs work, I'm just asking the questions and gathering the stories.  See the youtube channel for the wide variety of values people have stated.  


      •  With respect, (0+ / 0-)

        I made several suggestions on how your frame needs work in my top paragraph. I'm on your side. We are both searching for the best framing and descriptors to define our commitments and goals as a political movement.

        As to "values," for me it doesn't matter which political sector claims that term, I'm not "abandoning the word to them" as I never liked it for myself and hardly ever used it. It's too soft a term for me to describe the principles I would fight to preserve as a progressive. "Values" is too relative and subjective, implies a spectrum that can change. "Principle" in my mind "stands up in itself" as an abiding commitment, like "putting people first" and "fairness" which are progressive principles to me. I suppose there are other terms besides "values" and "principles" that I haven't time now to search around for but I'm quite sure are there.

        BTW, how are these "progressive values" in your mind to be used? Are you (as I)  interested in exploring via language to discern the body, mind and heart of progressivism so as to stand up into it and advance that body forward politically? In rhetoric in media like talk news shows? In op ed pieces? Speeches? Debates? Blogging? Democratic Party ads? In finding unifying themes (unifying us as a party) around which to describe ourselves to voters?

        I have subscribed to you so I can follow your diaries on this interesting subject. Thanks.

        •  How are values to be used? (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not a real fan of the word frame. So, when you say my frame needs work, it doesn't really mean anything to me. Perhaps you could say it in another way and I understand better what you mean..

          I'm interested in the personal growth that comes from looking at life, values, principles, experience, the human spirit, etc.  So, this is an ongoing part of life.

          I also see how conservatives have expressed their values and I find the analysis of George Lakoff and comments of Howard Dean to be very helpful in understanding the situation.

          I also agree with you that values are shared between different political groups.. But there are significant differences.  I do see a greater value  of authoritarianism among the conservatives  and a getter value of democracy among progressives for instance.  

          How are values to be used? you ask..  one way is to use them to get past some of the stuck debates.. If you can appeal to someones sense of fairness for instance instead of gettig stuck in a policy debate, it may move the conversation forward.

    •  Empathy is about mirror neurons. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We all have them. They not only allow us to be in someone else's head, they FORCE us to be in someone else's head. It's evolution.

      If you didn't work with others, the groups that did so out-competed you. Most of your kind died off, over thousands of years.

      Over-competitive and hyperindividualistic people are being given too much advantage in this economic and political system.

      Start talking about changing the way we think about status.

      See the Kucinich site. He's the only one even close to understanding this, and talking about it.

      It's how he deals with the problem of American energy consumption: we have to stop rewarding hogs and we have to start praising careful users.

      We used to. Now we all bow down to conspicuous consump;tion.

      How many progressives bought $500 iPhones yesterday? Did they need them, or was it, as many interviewed said "The latest greatest thing."

      Not great. Gotta stop that.

      Athens had a troll. They made him drink hemlock.

      by ormondotvos on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 09:08:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really like the idea about defining ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I really like the idea about defining Progressive Values,
    I hope you can pull it together, as it is
    a really big topic.

    Perhaps one way to crystallize it, is to ask:

    Who is the 'Frank Luntz' of Progressives?

    Who is out there Framing the Debate, on 'our terms',
    instead  of in the context set by the GOP and the Media?

    Hey good luck "WhatAre Progressive Values" ...
    you may just find some blogs I've written on
    similar topics helpful?

    Here's a Crash Course on 'Framing the Debate'

    Applying Old Media Theories to a New Media

    BTW, I find that Thom Hartmann, is the most consistent advocate
    "for Re-framing the Debate", on the Airways (Air America)

    and I think John Edwards, is the the most consistent Candidate,
    "Re-framing the Debate", with bold new ideas and daring statements,
    that nearly always force the other political participants, even in Congress,
    to sit up and sooner or later, take notice of, and finally respond to, Edwards ideas.

    (in other words, Edwards is showing the way,
    Others have just been following his lead, IMO)

  •  Interesting diary (0+ / 0-)

    As a matter of political strategy, I think empathy is too soft a value to focus on.  I also think "toughness" gets it wrong.  It fails to draw a sharp distinction (note how many words Dean needed to explain it; a sure sign it ain't working!).

    Responsibility and/or Quality Governance

    Those are my votes.

  •  I think you're too narrow. We have (0+ / 0-)

    human values, in common with every other human.

    To pretend that the average Republican is some sort of inhuman warped monster (yeah, I know you didn't say that) in order to differentiate ourselves from them for purposes of propaganda is a mistake.

    On the Tavis Smiley show last night, they did a recap with thirty members of the audience and Frank Luntz, exploring the meaning of the audience reactions to the forum candidates AS THEY SPOKE.

    And then they asked the thirty a bunch of questions. What I noticed that the audience kept returning to, and which applies directly to what you seem to be asking was this:

    "We're tired of the we're not Republicans line of campaigning. What are Democrats FOR?"

    That's not values. It's policy, and I suggest you think about that.

    Athens had a troll. They made him drink hemlock.

    by ormondotvos on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 09:00:54 PM PDT

    •  There's no end to policies. (0+ / 0-)


      You seem to be misunderstanding what I'm asking.

      I haven't seen anyone here say Republicans are warped monsters. Everyone in my family is Republican except me. And we get along fine. However, there are differences in underlying values.

      If you look on YouTube, on the candidates videos, you can see all the policies they already have. There are plenty of polices. I'd say a balanced approach of time spent on values, issues and policies is the way to go. That's what Howard Dean is saying in his talk. Very little energy has been directed at looking at progressive values.

      So what do you feel Progressive Values are?


      •  Progressive values, simply: (0+ / 0-)

        United Nations, all their positions.

        I have their big poster on human rights on the wall beside me. I look at it a lot.

        International Criminal Court: rule of law.

        Constitutional Democracy, no theocracy.

        Wasn't that easy?

        Athens had a troll. They made him drink hemlock.

        by ormondotvos on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 12:17:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here's my list of Progressive Principles/Values (0+ / 0-)

    Here's my list of Progressive Principles (or Values):

    1. Progressive always Put People first.
    1. Human Interest should trump Corporate Interests.
    1. Every Person has worth and dignity.
    1. The Constitution must be protected at all costs.
    1. Democracy depends on three co-equal branches of Government.
    1. Democracy depends a strong system of "checks and balances".
    1. Democracy depends on hearing the many voices of We the People.
    1. Every Vote must count.
    1. Money should be taken out of Politics -- it is NOT Speech.
    1. Public Campaign Finance Reform is essential to returning the Government back to We the People.
    1. Middle Class Workers are the backbone of America.
    1. Unions are the bargaining force that built the Middle Class.
    1. Fair Trade policy requires a level playing field.
    1. Fair Trade policy requires fair wages and safe working conditions.
    1. Corporations and the Upper Class must pay their fair share of taxes.
    1. Multi-Nationals that exploit cheap labor overseas are unpatriotic.
    1. American Corporations that move overseas are Unamerican.
    1. Energy Independence is a key part of any Future Security plan.
    1. The "Deal New" is a social safety net, that we all deserve.
    1. Health Care is a basic right of human dignity, not a privilege.
    1. The Health of the Planet and the Health of the Environment is a Moral Responsibility that we must all pursue.
    1. Protect the Homeland first, then look outward to foreign interest.
    1. The rights to pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness, require us not sacrifice our core values, in that pursuit.
    1. Those who would sacrifice our constitutional Freedoms to gain momentary Security -- deserve neither.
    1. The Bill of Rights must be respected.
    1. The Geneva Convention must be respected.
    1. Habeous Corpus must be restored.
    1. America must to be an example of what right in the world, and not just a Bully in the world, who demands her way.
    1. America must lead by example, not just intimidate others by rhetoric and fear.
    1. The War on Terror, is a war against a Tactic, and is currently not a war against any a specific enemy.
    1. Freedom means the freedom to be wrong, and also the opportunity to correct those wrongs.


    These are off the "top of my head"
    and there are  probably many "borrowed" ideas here --
    from Thom Hartmann, John Edwards, Ben Franklin, and others.

    And this list I'm sure too, hardly scratches the surface,
    of that deep ocean known as Progressive Values.

    But I hope it helps, anyways.

    Cheers! Happy Sailing

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