The Progressive Trinity

THE PROGRESSIVE TRINITY… There have been a number of attempts recently to rethink and redefine progressivism for the 21st Century. We took some stabs at this with our New Populism package and William Galston?s essay on freedom. So did Michael Tomasky in his widely-read essay in The American Prospect, as did, in a similar vein, Ruy Teixiera and John Halpin in “The Politics of Definition.”

The latest installment in this ongoing effort is The Progressive Trinity: Family, Business, and Public Service, by San Francisco attorney Greg Colvin, which we?re proud to bring to you as a web-only feature. It came to us via our mutual friend Bill Moyers, who first encouraged Colvin to write the essay.

Colvin argues that American life is out of balance. The realm of business, through its own success, has encroached on and disrupted two other realms whose vitality and integrity are crucial to sound democracy and the good life: the family and public service. The aim of any new progressivism, Colvin argues, is to right that imbalance. And the principle that should guide this new progressivism is a melding of the ideas of John Stuart Mill and modern human rights theorists: “the greatest good for the greatest number, with dignity for all.”

No summation can quite do justice to this long and wonderfully vernacular essay, which has the feel of something the writer has been living with and turning over in his mind for years. There are quite a few points of agreement between this essay and those of Tomasky and Teixiera-Halpin, especially on the centrality of the idea of shared sacrifice. It?s really worth reading the whole thing.

Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly.