The Difference Between Conservative And Progressive Thought

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Peter* has asked me to comment on the concept of a “grass roots think tank”. The motto of Dawg’s Blog is “Yes, We Do Requests”: I am delighted to oblige.

(I’m not sure what you mean by your reference to my “comedic skills”, Peter, and I hope you’re not reading some parodic intent into my analyses. The business of keeping the Internet free of error is no small task, and I would hate to think my intentions were being misconstrued.)

I am not going to address Peter’s question directly, as I believe his misunderstanding is a function of his failure to grasp the very deep and very real differences in political approach that characterize conservative vs. progressive thought in the current political landscape.

Let me shed some light.

In simple terms, conservative political thought is inherently flawed because it is based on faulty inputs.

At the “top” end, it relies on biased, partisan, and ideological analyses from three streams:

  • “Think Tanks” such as the Fraser Institute and the Manning Centre, which start with an ideological conclusion, design manipulative research programs to reach that pre-set conclusion, and cherry-pick their evidence to serve the goals of their political masters;
  • “Professors” whose industry-financed labs and research programs depend on producing an endless and reliable stream of dubious “findings” that can be used support the purely profit-driven corporate goals of their sponsors in Big Pharma, Big Industry and Big Oil.
  • Demagogues and pundits to digest these “results”, package them into simple minded sloganeering, and whip the gullible into frenzies.

At the “bottom” end, it relies on mock-populist movements, astroturfing, and the cynical manipulation of popular hopes, fear, and ignorance to sell conservative messaging to otherwise decent Canadians who are being duped.

You can only really appreciate the cynicism of the conservative exercise by comparing it to the process that informs progressive political thought.

So how do WE do it?

At the “top” end, we rely on objective, non-partisan, and and rigorously logical analyses from three streams:

  • Policy Research Groups like Fair.Org or the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which start with self-evident and widely recognized social needs of concern to all Canadians, design proactive, action-driven research programs that are iterative, informant-driven, respectful and shaped by the need for academic rigour;
  • Scholars and academics, whose stature and independence within institution of higher learning (as opposed to labs in the basement of an oil refinery or a tobacco warehouse) and devotion to the scientific method, regardless of outcomes, guarantee the purity and accuracy of their results;
  • Wise and charismatic leaders, deeply connected to the community, who ponder this data and its analyses, painstakingly formulate policy frameworks, and communicate the progressive vision through appropriate media, while monitoring and adjusting the framework in an ongoing and iterative manner to ensure its continued relevance and worth to the community being served.

At the “bottom” end, progressive political thought is driven, shaped and informed by the will of the people. It represents the embodiment of their hopes and dreams for this great country; and it provides workable, realistic, measurable, affordable and specific measures to address their fears (said fears being an entirely natural human response to the chaos and uncertainty that arise during Conservative periods of misrule, or, if during periods of progressive governance, an entirely natural human response to the grim and lurking certainty of the hidden Conservative agenda).

Night and day. See the difference?

* [Editor’s note: “Peter” is a frequent commenter at Dawg’s, and a charter member of the Ottawa Clocktower Flightless Chickens Club.]

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This page contains a single entry by Balbulican published on September 4, 2011 7:51 AM.

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