Progressive Is Our Middle Name: But what does it really mean to be progressive?

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*** The content in this section is paid for by the Central Valley Progressive PAC ***

By Mike Rhodes

There is a controversy, mostly being played out on the national stage, about what it means to be progressive. Bernie Sanders, who is running for president, is widely considered to be progressive. He talks about income inequality, reining in Wall Street, supporting healthcare for all and accomplishing this by building a political revolution. As his message gains traction, it has been interesting to watch Hillary Clinton move to the left and argue that she is the true progressive who has the skill and knowledge to accomplish these goals.

So, who is a progressive? Central Valley Progressive PAC President Pam Whalen describes a progressive as one who “understands we are all in this together and can only improve our lives by improving everybody’s lives.” It is building unity and solidarity with those around us who are working to build social and economic justice to create a better world.

Whalen said, “Progressivism is when you recognize and acknowledge and understand who has the wealth and the power and you use that knowledge to bring everybody who is being oppressed by that together. It’s complicated in the United States because of the legacy of racism and because of all the gender issues, and you can’t end injustice without addressing those specific issues of racism and gender. A progressive core value is to have strategies to deal with those issues that have ripped up the social fabric historically.”

CVPPAC Executive Board Member Paul Sedillos said that to him being “progressive means practicing and promoting inclusivity by being accountable to the needs of the community. By nature, those needs are diverse and they require each of us to better understand, promote and respect that diversity.”

Past CVPPAC President Howard Watkins commented that “progressive means putting programs first that benefit all the people, not just the rich and powerful. Progressives get elected to office by educating the masses on the issues and motivating them to turn out and vote.”

In local politics, being progressive affects how you view issues in this community. Whalen said, “Homelessness is one issue that is right in our face every day, and the income inequality expressed in this is incredibly inhumane and brutal. They are just dehumanized because they are at the very bottom of the economic pecking order. I think we need to have good schools that give each child, no matter what neighborhood they come from, what language they speak, what race they are, the chance to have good paying jobs. We have to have a living wage and an economic system that does provide good paying jobs.”

Having an electoral strategy to unite local grassroots activists to win political power is progressive. Fighting for campaign finance reform is progressive. Empowering people to vote, ending the right wing’s disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters, and increasing democratic participation in elections is progressive.

The CVPPAC is building the infrastructure to elect progressive candidates to local office. We are working to encourage community groups (e.g., labor, environmental, LGBTQ, peace) to come together for the benefit of all and work on a united electoral strategy in 2016.

If you consider yourself progressive, you are invited to join the CVPPAC and work toward a better tomorrow. Another Fresno and another world is possible.

The next CVPPAC meeting will be Saturday, March 12, at 3:30 p.m. at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, 1584 N. Van Ness (southeast corner of Van Ness and McKinley).

Save the Date:

Do you want to know how to help progressive candidates and initiatives succeed?

Campaign Training for CVPPAC Members and other Political Activists:

Saturday April 30 9 AM – 4 PM (Happy Hour to follow) Tuolumne Hall 1445 Tuolumne Street