In politics progressiveism is a loosely defined political philosophy usually associated with the political left.

The Nurturing Parent Model

Progressives tend to deep frame their poltical philosophy wiht the concept of the state as a nurturing parent. It is assumed that:
  • the world is basically good.
  • however dangerous and difficult the world may be at present, it can be made better
  • it is every individual's responsibility to help make it better.

Correspondingly, children are born good, and parents can make them better, and it is their responsibility to do so. Both parents (if there are two) are responsible for running the household and raising the children, although they may divide their activities. The parents' job is to be responsive to their children, nurture them, and raise their children to nurture others. Nurturance requires empathy and responsibility.

Nurturant Morality

In the Nurturant Parent family, the highest moral values are Empathy and Responsibility. Effective nurturing requires empathy, which is feeling what someone else feels—parents have to figure out what all their baby's cries mean in order to take care of him or her. Responsibility is critical, since being a good nurturer means being responsible not only for looking after the well-being of others, but also being responsible to ourselves so that we can take care of others. Nurturant parents raise children to be empathetic toward others, responsible to themselves, and responsible to others who are or will be in their care. Empathy connects us to other people in our families, our neighborhoods, and in the larger world. Being responsible to others and oneself requires cooperation. In society, nurturant morality is expressed as social responsibility. This requires cooperation rather than competition, and a recognition of interdependence.
The Progressive Value System: How the values relate to one another

Nurturant morality is based on a fundamental ethic of care that says: Help, Don't Harm. From the central values of Empathy and Responsibility, the ethic of care leads naturally to the following set of values that characterizes the Nurturant Parent family:

* Strength: You have to be strong and competent to carry out your responsibilities.
* Safety and Protection: A nurturing parent wants his/her family to be safe, which requires that they protect them, and themselves, from harm. The motivation to protect others comes from empathy, and the ability to do so comes from responsibility and strength.
* Fulfillment in Life: When we empathize with others and take care of them responsibly, we desire their well-being, and want their dreams to come true. Happy and fulfilled people want to see others happy and fulfilled. Correspondingly, unhappy, unfulfilled people tend not to want others to be happier than they are. It is, therefore, a moral requirement to be a happy, fulfilled person.
* Fairness: When we care for others, we want to treat them fairly, help them to treat others fairly, and ensure that others do treat them fairly.
* Freedom: Freedom allows us to meet our needs, fulfill our potential, realize our dreams, and help others to do so as well.
* Opportunity: Caring for others means ensuring they have opportunities—to achieve fulfillment in life, to be treated fairly, and to be able to care for themselves and others.
* Prosperity: Without prosperity, there can be no opportunity.
* Community: Healthy communities are based on cooperation, honesty, trust, and open communication.
* Cooperation: Responsibility to others requires cooperation and empathy. Cooperation is the basis for community, and requires open communication, honesty and trust.
* Trust: Trust is needed for open communication and cooperation. We are trustworthy when we treat others fairly and responsibly.
* Honesty: Honesty is the hallmark of open communication, and is necessary for trust and cooperation.
* Open Communication: Open communication is at the heart of empathy and responsibility. To know how to care for others, we must communicate with them to understand their needs. Cooperation relies on two-way communication.

How Values Shape Progressive Politics

The values inherent in the Nurturant Parent model of the family translate directly to political values. Progressive political positions are based on a responsive morality that centers around Empathy and Responsibility—responsibility for oneself and social responsibility. These values are to be promoted in every area of life, both public and private.

For progressives, these values are typically unconscious, but the more we understand them, the more we can articulate and work towards a society that is consistent with and extends our values.

A progressive government expresses progressive values in its goals and policies. For example:

* Strength: A progressive government must be strong enough to carry out progressive goals.
* The promotion of Safety and Protection for life, health, the environment, and human dignity translate into support for the social safety net, health care, environmental protection laws, and protection offered by the police and military. Governmental laws and policies ensure protection from unscrupulous businesses, pollution, unsafe products in the home, and unsafe working conditions.
* Fulfillment in Life is expressed in many ways: by satisfying and profitable work, by lifelong education and learning, and by an appreciation for the arts, music, and culture. This translates into support for our schools and universities, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, and our cultural institutions. Religious and spiritual fulfillment is supported by our many religious traditions, protected from undue influence by the government.
* Fairness and Freedom are upheld by our civil liberties, offering equal protection under the law and equal rights for all citizens. Universal education and health care and programs such as Head Start are all matters of fairness that also advance freedom of opportunity. A professional, nonpartisan civil service and judiciary support fairness and freedom by preventing corruption, patronage and favoritism in government.
* Opportunity is critical for fairness and freedom, and to achieve fulfillment in life. Our nation's public schools and universities provide opportunities for everyone. Government policies such as Affirmative Action offer opportunity to women and people of color who face unfair disadvantages in society. Government support of honest business practices, full accounting standards, and anti-trust laws provide the conditions for honest businesspeople to succeed.
* Prosperity is based on how well our communities are doing, and whether we all have access to good jobs, a good education, and the conditions needed to live healthy and productive lives. Equal opportunity is important to be able to achieve prosperity. And prosperity is necessary for opportunity. This translates into a progressive goal of government to promote widespread prosperity as a form of seeking the common good. The promotion of general prosperity need not be just a role for the government, but for corporations and businesspeople as well.
* Community: Healthy communities are needed for healthy individuals. Policies that support healthy communities include well-trained and equipped fire fighters and police officers, hospitals and community care clinics, and other institutions that care for people in the community. Access to Fair Lending Laws, adhering to environmental standards, and sustainable planning and zoning laws all contribute to sound communities. And, an active civil society is a precondition for a healthy community.
* Cooperation is a hallmark of healthy communities, where everyone in a community works together to meet shared goals. Open communication requires cooperation and trust. In foreign policy, cooperation is expressed in support for the United Nations, diplomacy, and respect for international agreements and treaties.
* Trust, Honesty and Open Communication are required of an open government that respects its citizens. Open communication is how policymakers learn about the needs of people in their communities. Democracy requires a government that is responsive to its citizens. Regular press conferences, public hearings, and open deliberations by policymakers allow the people to communicate with their elected officials, and foster trust. The Freedom of Information Act and oversight agencies such as the General Accounting Office ensure the openness, honesty and accountability of the government to the people.

A Progressive View of the Economy

The economy should be a means to these moral ends. Government should promote an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values. The government provides the infrastructure and services needed to enact these values. Taxes are a means to maintain the quality of our infrastructure so that we can continue to live in a safe, well-ordered, and civilized society. Taxes are investments in our future.
A Progressive View of the Environment

Humans and the environment nurture each other. If we want to continue to receive nurturance from the environment, and ensure this nurturance for future generations, we must improve our nurturance of the environment.
A Progressive View of Cultural Support

Art and education are part of self-fulfillment and therefore are moral necessities.
A Progressive View of Foreign Policy

The role of the nation should be to promote cooperation and extend these values to the world. This comes from caring about the well-being of people in our own and in other countries, recognizing that all nations exist interdependently in one global "society," and, therefore, wanting to cooperate with other nations to solve problems like hunger, disease, oppression of women and exploitation of children, and political strife.

Ultimately, the job of a progressive government is to care for and protect the population, especially those who are helpless; to guarantee democracy (the equal sharing of political power); to promote the well-being of all through cooperation; and to ensure fairness for everyone. Empathy and responsibility are required to meet all of these goals. These values are traditional American values, and progressives seek to reinvigorate them in American political life.

Original text: by The Rockridge Institute