According to pervading political stereotypes, Progressives are the group concerned with and committed to the betterment of the "common man" while Conservatives are characterized by a parochial desire to preserve the institutions and traditions that have served the interests of the white majority for the last few centuries. This is the narrative being promulgated by the gatekeepers of American political and pop culture, and these are the assumptions informing the attitudes and beliefs of students at America's most elite institutions of higher learning.
Engage a self-proclaimed "progressive" on any of the hot-button social issues of the day, and these stereotypes immediately come into play. The greatest impediment to "progress" on issues of social justice, they insist, are bigoted, racist, and misogynistic "old white men" who cling fervently to an antiquated worldview in which women, the poor, and other minorities are consigned to second class status. Because these enemies of equality still wield enormous political and economic power, they insist, America's promise of liberty and justice for all remains unrealized.
In order to change this, Progressives are convinced that the old order and everything it represents must be overthrown. So long as even one person feels stymied, excluded, or shamed by prevailing social, cultural, and moral norms, our nation is not living up to the true meaning of its creed. The gay teen seeking acceptance, the single mom with no family or friends to support her, the tomboy who wants to try out for the football team, the transgendered man who wants to use the ladies' room at his workplace, the starving artist forced to wait tables or sell insurance in order to pay his rent, the feminist determined to eschew the constraints of marriage and family in exchange for a life of unbridled self-seeking. . . these are the faces of the Progressive crusade to demolish the moral, cultural, and political assumptions that have informed the social order for hundreds of years.
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