Rhode Island State House

With the entrance in the Democratic gubernatorial race of Matt Brown, a former Secretary of State, a reader asks: “What’s the difference between Progressive and Liberal?”

Brown is leader of a Progressive group, the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, which promises to run Progressive candidates in 50 races, from local town council and school committees, legislature, and the governorship.

Brown, who lost in a Democratic primary for governor in 2018, has entered a crowded Democratic primary that includes Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, and Dr. Luis Daniel Munoz, all of whom would be considered liberals, and Gov. Dan McKee, who is viewed as more conservative.

So far, the Rhode Island Political Cooperative has announced 24 candidates, and has done an about face on a candidate that was targeting state Sen. Dawn Euer, D-District 13, representing Jamestown and Newport. Jennifer Jackson had been announced as the Cooperative’s candidate, drawing the ire of liberal Democrats who were upset that Progressives would target a Senator who had been a sponsor of and supportive of a number of liberal issues.

The Cooperative withdrew its support of Jackson after it found she had anti-vaccine and anti-refugee Facebook posts, according to a Cooperative announcement.

Meanwhile, the Cooperative is targeting state Sen. Lou DiPalma, D-Dist. 12, who represents Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton. DiPalma chairs the Senate’s rules, government ethics, and oversight committee. The Cooperative’s candidate is Jenna Magnuski.

So, to the question: What’s the difference between Progressives and Liberals? We went to a website, DifferenceBetween.com and to the Huffington Post to understand the difference. Both suggest that many Progressives also identify as Liberals, but not as many Liberals identify as Progressives.

There is a lot of confusion in the minds of people regarding the meanings of liberal and progressive because of similarities between the two terms,” says DifferenceBetween.com. “While the term progressive stands for reforms and improvements rather than remaining stuck or stagnant, liberal is not much different. However, there are subtle differences.

“…A progressive is one who is always feeling he can provide better conditions and policies for the people,” and favors more equitable distribution of the assets for all and better opportunities for work and education for people of all classes without providing any special benefits or privileges to a class of people, business, or organization.” 

The Website says Liberals “believe in the ideals of liberty and equality. Liberalism is what a liberal stands for, and this translates into human rights for all, free and fair elections, and allow the right to religion to the followers of all faiths.”

David Sirota writes in the Huffington Post “that traditional ‘liberals’ … are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A ‘progressive’ are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.”

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....