Progressives believe we’re all in it together: We all benefit from public investments in schools and health care and infrastructure, and from efforts to reverse climate change. We all do better with strong safety nets, reasonable constraints on Wall Street and big business, and a progressive tax system. Progressives worry that the middle class is shrinking, a quarter of our nation’s children are poor, and the rich and privileged have become powerful enough to undermine our democracy. The issue for progressives isn’t the size of government; it’s who government is for: It should be for all of us, not a privileged few.
Regressives take the opposite positions. They believe each of us is on his or her own: Investments in schools or health care or infrastructure are better done through private individuals and corporations than government. Safety nets coddle the weak. Those who are losing ground lack adequate education and ambition, and must learn to take responsibility for themselves. Those who are thriving are entitled to their rewards; constraints and taxes on them only reduce their incentive to invest. They have every right to their disproportionate power and influence. Regressives want to take us back to 19th century social Darwinism