|Source: Paul Krugman Blog- Paul Krugman & David Morris-|
Going through the differences between Liberals such as myself and Social Democrats/Democratic Socialists such as, well Paul Krugman or Ed Schultz in the Democratic Party, is a great debate to have, because we are different.
Liberals aren't the same as Socialists (democratic or otherwise) or even Progressives. Liberals are closer to libertarian than socialist or even progressive. Democratic Socialists are Senator Bernie Sanders, from the Socialist Republic of Vermont. Just like Conservatives and Libertarians aren't the same either. Even though they are similar and thats a good debate the Republican Party is having right now. Should they be a party of Barry Goldwater and Ron Reagan, should they become libertarian like Ron Paul, or should they keep moving in the same religious and neoconservative direction they've been on the last ten years. Liberals and Socialists aren't part of the same broader political ideology. Where liberal and socialist is another word for the other and even though they are both on the left with similar goals, we have different approaches in how to accomplish them.
Liberals prefer to empower people to solve their own problems and empower them to become self- sufficient. Socialists prefer to empower government to solve these problems for the people. Health care being an excellent example of this, but there are other issues as well. Liberals believe in things like individual liberty, limited government, these are some things we have in common with Libertarians. Socialists tend to believe in collectivism that we are all part of the same community. And one shouldn't be able to be more powerful than others. And they believe you need big government to ensure equality in society with high taxes and a welfare state to ensure equality.
Those are main difference on economic policy. Thats exactly what it's centered around, the role of government especially the Federal Government. And what size it should be and what it should be doing. Liberals tend to be realist and look at the world the way it is and try to make that world as best as it can.
Socialists tend to be idealistic, romantic even and look at the world the way they want it to be. Liberals tend to be more optimistic with a glass half-full approach to the world. Socialists tend to be more pessimistic with a glass half-empty approach to the world.
I'll give you an example of this. When the unemployment rate fell to 8.2% in January, Liberals said look at unemployment level, it's down to 8.2%, we are making progress. Socialists said we still have 8.2% unemployment in America, thats too much. Both are right, but with different analysis's. Liberals and Socialists are both very similar on social issues, but we are very different on economic and foreign policy. Liberals believe in having a strong private sector and free enterprise system. Socialists believe in those things as well to a certain extent, but would like to see everyone taxed much higher. With stronger regulations with the Federal Government providing a lot more public services.
Liberals and Socialists are also different on foreign policy. Liberals tend to be internationalist and believing in strong defense. Socialists would like to cut the defense budget at least in half. And tend to be isolationist and pacifist. We have similar goals but different approaches to accomplishing these goals. Liberals and Socialists are both on the left even in America. The difference being that Liberals are the Center-Left in America and would probably be Center-Right in Canada and Europe, where socialism and social democracy are a lot more popular than they are in America. Socialists tend to operate the Far-Left in America, because Americans tend to put hard limits on what they're willing to pay their government to do for them. And believe in things like strong defense and law enforcement.
I realize that the title of this piece is Liberals vs. Progressives. But that is because this is partially about Paul Krugman in how he distinguishes the two political factions. But Liberals according to him are establishment Democrats more interested in governing, even if that means working with Republicans. And Progressives are more hard-core and ideological and looking to blow up the entire economic system and replace it with a social democratic form of government an economic system. But the fact is a true Progressive is probably the most pragmatic of all the ideological factions. Yes, wanting to use government to create more progress, but in a limited way. And more interested in doing what works and less of a believer in other personal or economic freedom. But instead going step-by-step and issue by issue to determine what works at the given moment.