Conservative and Progressive: why not both?

Wait, is that possible? How could one be both?

Let me propose these broad definitions for the terms:

  • Conservative: seeking to maintain that which is good
  • Progressive: seeking to fix that which is bad

You can probably see where I am going here: these are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can be reinforcing of one another. Holding onto goodness provides a place of safety and strength from which to be able to pursue change. Addressing problems also frees up more people and more opportunities to pursue good.

Naturally, a larger question of “ok, but what exactly is good and what is bad” comes up; however, seeking clarity on this question is often muddied due to team loyalty at the expense of critical reflection. Breaking down that tribalism can improve our ability to discuss this topic more fruitfully.

There are also questions of strategy, tactics, immediacy, etc., different dimensions that are worthy of coverage in another post & discussion.

I am not suggesting a “but both sides” false equivalency, but a broadening of perspective. Let’s consider both the conservative & progressive priorities: what we should cherish and what we should repair. We can do both.

This post was inspired by a conversation between Ezra Klein and Yuval Levin.

Todd Grotenhuis @toddgrotenhuis