SF Chronicle - The difference between progressives and moderates is ...

Joe Garofoli

March 13, 2016

Sorting out progressives from moderates

If there is one place that can parse the distinction between progressives and moderates, it’s California — particularly the Bay Area. The Chronicle asked some left-leaning leaders to define the difference.

“Progressives work to make long-term change that lift up all parts of society, not just some. They push the edge of what is politically possible and fight for aspirational demands that fundamentally transform society. Moderates uphold the status quo and make short-sighted compromises that primarily benefit those already at the top, leaving many behind to fight for the crumbs.”

— Alex T. Tom, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association

“Often, the term ‘moderate’ is simply a euphemism for corporate-funded Democrats whose positions on issues of economic security are in direct contrast to the ideals the Democratic Party has historically championed. It’s not ‘moderate’ to oppose working people’s efforts to lift themselves up through higher wages, joining unions or paid sick days.”

— Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the 2.1 million member California Labor Federation

“The difference between a moderate and progressive Democrat is really a question of how fast that change should occur. Moderates may say, ‘Let’s push the utility companies for more clean energy.’ Progressives bypass the utilities and launch CleanPowerSF. Moderates fought for civil unions. Progressives started marrying people.”

— Supervisor London Breed, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

“Progressives push, they lean forward. They want to be Capt. Kirks — take us to where no man or woman has gone before. You can want to take someone to where no one has gone before, but if you haven’t prepped for it, you’re in real trouble, because you may run into Klingons”

— U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, the fourth-highest-ranking Democrat in the House and member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, most of whom including him, support Clinton

“With the dominant shift of the Democratic Party into neoliberalism, there is a need for a term that invokes a distinctive vision. A liberal Democrat would push for deregulation of the private industry while cutting social programs, like (Jimmy) Carter or Bill Clinton. They both deregulated, while one cut housing and the other welfare. A progressive, like Franklin Roosevelt, regulated the stock market while ensuring all Americans were protected from severe destitution.”

— Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness

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