When Liberalism Became Progressivism

Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report used to be a progressive. Now he’s not. Here’s why he left the left.

An excerpt:

I’m a married gay man, so you might think that I appreciate the government forcing a Christian baker or photographer or florist to act against their religion in order to cater, photograph or decorate my wedding. But you’d be wrong. A government that can force Christians to violate their conscience can force me to violate mine.

If a baker won’t bake you a cake, find another baker, don’t demand the state tell him what to do with his private business.

I’m pro-choice. But a government that can force a group of Catholic nuns—literally called the Little Sisters of the Poor—to violate their faith and pay for abortion-inducing birth control can force anyone to do anything.

38 Comments for “When Liberalism Became Progressivism”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Whatever.

    Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      Frankly, I tired of people defending poorly written laws as protecting religious freedom.

      Reply
  2. posted by Lori Heine on

    Posted on my Facebook wall. An altogether perfect encapsulation.

    Reply
  3. posted by Kosh III on

    There’s nothing there; it’s an empty space–just like Miller’s head.

    Reply
    • posted by Jim. R. on

      Really? That’s your counter-argument?

      Reply
      • posted by TJ on

        Many people have carefully explained how to write laws to protect religious freedom and civil rights.

        Lawmakers who support bad laws shouldnt be praised as defending religious freedom. they shouldnt be praised for selling out civil rights.

        Reply
  4. posted by Jorge on

    Him?

    Progressive as I understand it was a rebranding of the word liberal when “liberal” became politically incorrect.

    But I’ll take Mr. Fellow Young Person’s opinion (oh, please, that’s just the makeup; he’s probably ancient)

    Reply
    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Exactly. Conservatives in the 80s successfully make liberal a dirty word so liberals rebranded.

      Also, it’s easy for people who live in urban areas to say just go somewhere else. Personally that’s exactly what I would do. I can walk past the anti-gay business and go shop somewhere else. And do. But half the country does not have options without driving over 100 miles, sometimes more. How far are we willing to take this religious freedom exemption. There are large portions of the US where all the hospitals are affiliated with the Catholic church. What happens when you need a procedure that the RCC thinks is too close to abortion? Hope you live long enough for the trip to a non-religious hospital? Religious freedom is one thing. Allowing discrimination and denial of services on the whim of a religious person is quite another. No one is going to die because they can’t get a cake. But there are more serious issues at stake here.

      Reply
      • posted by TJ on

        Most civil rights laws in America have an exemption for small businesses or self employed worker.

        Again, if the laws were written right…we could defend civil rights and religious freedom.

        Reply
      • posted by TJ on

        Notic

        Reply
  5. posted by wilberforce on

    He’s right about a lot of it. Identity politics is a version of right wing bigotry, where people are judged by the group they belong to. It’s also counterproductive, giving us mediocre leaders.
    in this and many other ways, the progressives have lost their way and have made themselves irrelevant. Witness loosing the election for refusing to address working class issues.
    But he’s wrong about the christian business people. It’s a business, not a church, and we expect businesses to serve the public, period. See Matt 6:24. That’s just one quote of many that these devout angles seem to have missed.

    Reply
    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Our politics is now polarized between urban and rural people with suburbanites as the swing votes. We consume different media and socialize with very different people. As someone who spent the last 30 years back and forth between the two I was surprised how often I had no idea what either group was talking about. Both have problems with echo chambers and framing that is nonsense to everyone else. And the problem is that they aren’t aware that there’s any other way of viewing issues. Liberals are losing nationally because they don’t have the first idea how to talk to rural white voters, even those who agree with them on the issues. That’s a problem that should already have been addressed but hasn’t been because the Democratic leadership is in its own bubble. And this is only going to continue to get worse because I see the far right and far left doubling down already.

      Reply
  6. posted by Jorge on

    …and we expect businesses to serve the public, period.

    We do?

    I thought the government was about serving the public, and business was about looking out for Number One.

    Reply
  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    … …and we expect businesses to serve the public, period.

    I suspect that is the societal/cultural expectation among a strong majority of Americans.

    Mainstream libertarian thinking[*], as I understand it, is that any business should be free to refuse to serve anyone for any reason or no reason, and the government should not interfere with the free market by demanding that business do otherwise.

    That is one of the things that puzzles me when I hear self-professed libertarians tying themselves up in knots over degrees of religious freedom — singling out which types of businesses (e.g. “expressive services”) to exempt from nondiscrimination laws, singling out specific groups not entitled to the protection of nondiscrimination laws, and so on.

    [*] Footnote: Libertarian Party Platform 2016: “A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.”

    What does religious freedom have to do with anything, if your position is that any business should be free to refuse to serve anyone for any reason or no reason, and the government should not interfere with the free market by demanding that business do otherwise?

    Reply
  8. posted by Lori Heine on

    What puzzles me is where most LGBT people got such unrealistic ideas about how human behavior works. Nothing must be left for people to work out for themselves–everything must be forced to happen.

    The whole “religious freedom” crusade, on the part of the religious right, has actually been little more than a tantrum. They’re tossing toys out of their strollers because gay people can get married now. Of course the “progressive” left saw an opportunity for self-promotion and ran with it by overreacting, but why so many of us have been gullible enough to let ourselves get jerked around like that completely escapes me.

    The vast majority of businesses won’t refuse to serve anybody. There’s that thing called the Internet–remember? In most areas of the country, they’d be ruined within a matter of hours.

    We should have allowed them to pitch their little hissy-fit and just get it out of their system. But too many of us weren’t adult enough to know how to deal with childish behavior like grownups. Now we’ve got a huge mess. And of course more government action is being demanded on both sides.

    The stupid absolutely burns.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      The vast majority of businesses won’t refuse to serve anybody. There’s that thing called the Internet–remember? In most areas of the country, they’d be ruined within a matter of hours.

      So, given the societal/cultural changes brought about by the Internet and social media, are we in a position where we should eliminate non-discrimination laws in employment, housing and public accommodations altogether?

      It would seem so, if market forces can (for all intents and purposes) eliminate discrimination against gays and lesbians by forcing discriminating businesses out of business. If market forces can do that, then it would seem that market forces could also (for all intents and purposes) eliminate discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability and so on, across the board.

      If that is the case, then the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar laws have become unnecessary, as obsolete as slide rules, artifacts of time before discrimination could be dealt with effectively by market forces working through the Internet and social media, and gays and lesbians should join with libertarian-minded conservatives to repeal those laws.

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        Every year around April, and every two years around November and December, a plaintive wail sweeps the nation.

        It comes from the heartland, from the depths of ordinary communities. A cry of terror, agony, and despair, an echo of piercing emptiness. It’s the sound gay red state America makes year after year when…

        ENDA fails in Congress???

        Reply
      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Explain to me, please, how in an industry heavily peopled by LGBT’s–the wedding industry, for crying out loud–(bakers, caterers, florists, hairdressers)–the whole “being forced to serve same-sex couples” was EVER anything more than an artificially-manufactured grievance in most areas of the country.

        You can’t.

        I won’t fall for the strawman. What is now being debated is what to do about a current, contemporary situation that did not exist at the time of Jim Crow.

        Most people who regard bigotry as offensive would not patronize a merchant they thought was a bigot. We aren’t living at a time when the only way information can be publicly disseminated by nailing a sheep’s hide to a door in the town square. There would be no way to keep that information from being disseminated, which would lead to most bigots going out of business.

        Hmm…but we need more study to figure out whether that’s true.

        Nonsense.

        Reply
        • posted by Lori Heine on

          Furthermore, I don’t know what planet you’re living on if ALL laws concerning protection of minorities would auto-magically be repealed because bakers weren’t forced to bake cakes for gay couples.

          Another strawman. More nonsense.

          Experience has abundantly shown us that legislation does not work the way you’re trying to suggest it does.

          Reply
          • posted by Houndentenor on

            All of this ignores the fact that in most of the country it’s still legally to discriminate against gay people. And that the total number of businesses fined for refusing to serve gay customers is still in single digits. It’s not an actual civil rights issue. It’s just the talking point the right came up with to make themselves sound like victims while supporting bigotry. I’ll offer a trade. Nationwide employment nondiscrimination laws in exchange for the ability to refuse to bake gay wedding cakes. I think we’d get the better end of that deal. And if the argument is that employers have the right to discriminate then make that case and repeal all nondiscrimination laws. As it is gay people are not allowed to discriminate against Christians but the reverse is illegal in most places.

          • posted by JohnInCA on

            “Furthermore, I don’t know what planet you’re living on if ALL laws concerning protection of minorities would auto-magically be repealed because bakers weren’t forced to bake cakes for gay couples.”
            Actually, if they ever win on the “Religious Liberty” argument in court (that is, argue that they should be able to ignore a law of general applicability because of their religion), then that’s going straight to the SCOTUS and will impact every non-discrimination law in the country.

            They keep losing in the courts though, which is why they’re trying the legislatures.

            But if your favored argument actually won in court? Yeah. It would “auto-magically” kill a lot of non-discrimination laws.

        • posted by JohnInCA on

          Near as I can tell, Brian Klawiter of Dieseltec in Grandville, Michigan is still in buisness, even though he publicly said he would refuse gay customers.

          Same with Dr. Vesna Roi, a pediatrician in Roseville, Michigan who dropped the daughter of a pair of lesbians because she decided she was simply too Christian for all that nonsense.

          For that matter, *none* of the infamous cases that have gone to court – Elane Photography, Arlene’s Flowers, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Hands On Originals – have gone out of buisness.

          Even that Pizzaria? Still doing fine.

          The *only* one that I’ve heard that “went out of business” was Sweetcakes by Melissa and we all know they weren’t forced out of business, they just found a more lucrative business then baking.

          Your confidence seems misplaced.

          Reply
      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        The question I raised

        So, given the societal/cultural changes brought about by the Internet and social media, are we in a position where we should eliminate non-discrimination laws in employment, housing and public accommodations altogether?

        is, to my mind, legitimate.

        I’m sorry you find that too frightening to contemplate.

        Reply
        • posted by Lori Heine on

          I don’t find it “too frightening to contemplate.” I find it a dishonest, strawman argument.

          The honest way to deal with it is to look at the real world and how abundant experience demonstrates that it works.

          Would laws overturning every other type of protection be proposed, perhaps, by somebody somewhere? If that particular politician saw it as a way to advance his/her career, probably. Would they pass? No. And why? Precisely because too many politicians would find it “too frightening to contemplate.”

          Try thinking reasonably. You’re capable of it. Just try.

          Reply
      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        The honest way to deal with it is to look at the real world and how abundant experience demonstrates that it works.

        Bullshit.

        I’m tired of you so-called “libertarians”. You all (and I mean you, Stephen, Walter Olson, Dave Rubin and the lot of you) talk a good game about oppressive nondiscrimination laws, allowing the market to operate unfettered, religious freedom and all the rest. But when push comes to shove, the only context in which you discuss is in the context of nondiscrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians, and religious freedom protecting conservative Christians.

        It is all talk and nonsense.

        According to so-called libertarians, Internet and social media have changed the game to make market forces effective to eliminate business discrimination against gays and lesbians, but apparently no one else.

        So-called libertarians are all over “authoritarian progressives” for supporting nondiscrimination laws, but flatly refuse to consider the possibility that the laws are no longer needed or effective.

        So-called libertarians don’t discuss the possibility of a “small business” exception to nondiscrimination laws, although that would eliminate 90% of the problems we are having.

        So-called libertarians eviscerate progressives for resisting “religious liberty” that gives government sanction to discrimination against gays and lesbians in the context of same-sex marriage, but oppose expanding the scope of religious liberty to protect Catholics opposed to remarriage after divorce, the 20% of evangelical Christians opposed to marriage between the races.

        Would laws overturning every other type of protection be proposed, perhaps, by somebody somewhere? If that particular politician saw it as a way to advance his/her career, probably. Would they pass? No. And why? Precisely because too many politicians would find it “too frightening to contemplate.”

        Maybe that dialog needs to change, if nondiscrimination laws are so oppressive. If the dialog doesn’t change, nothing changes. The government will continue to oppress business owners, and eventually (since such a high proportion of Americans favor it) gays and lesbians will be covered by public accommodation and other nondiscrimination laws, as you, personally, are covered in Phoenix.

        No, I don’t think that we’ll see politicians, spineless to the core as they are, supporting repeal of public accommodations laws. I that the laws are too entrenched to repeal. But I do think that an honest, fact-based discussion of the purpose, necessity and effectiveness of public accommodations laws would be useful in policy making in the future.

        We’ll never have that discussion, though, mostly because of people like you. You attack “stupid” gays and lesbians for wanting to be included in the scope of existing non-discrimination laws, scoffing at the laws as unnecessary, but you stop at that point. You will not entertain the idea that your theories about the Internet and social media might have broader application.

        So when challenged to expand your thinking, you attack again, dismissing the idea that your theory might be correct and have broader application than trashing gays and lesbians, labeling the inquiry “dishonest” and a “straw man”.

        Dishonest. Uh, huh. IF the shoe fits you, wear it.

        Reply
        • posted by Lori Heine on

          It would be interesting to hear you cuss at me face-to-face. Not that it’s ever going to happen. You’re one of those men who descends to the level of a swine only when you’re engaging with a woman online.

          I went there. Deal with it. You want everybody to be part of an official gripe-group and participate in an aggrievement Olympics. I don’t.

          If a law is not necessary anymore, even though it was at one time, it should be done away with. Politicians will not repeal any civil rights legislation for people of color because they lack the courage.

          Gay people start out at a different place in the developmental history of our nation than people of color were stuck in the mid-Twentieth Century. We do not need public accommodations laws for private businesses offering nonessential services. Since you insist on getting personal, I don’t need them in Phoenix, either.

          I am utterly uninterested in how sick you are of libertarians. I’m sick of liberals. We are, therefore, entirely even.

          Reply
        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          That was quite an explosion, even for you, Lori.

          However, it changes nothing.

          You haven’t presented any evidence supporting your assertion that the Internet and/or social media can eliminate discrimination by business owners against gays and lesbians.

          And you haven’t presented any evidence that gays and lesbians “do not need public accommodations laws for private businesses offering nonessential services”, for that matter. The question depends on the validity of your assertion about the Internet and/or social media, and that is unsupported.

          Reply
          • posted by Lori Heine on

            So you think I need to “present evidence” that common sense is sensible?

            That’s a neat trick. Present a largely-imaginary problem, repeatedly assert that it’s a big, big, really, really, big, big deal–and then challenge me to find “evidence” that it isn’t.

            Have I beaten my wife lately?

            You’ve drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid. I know what that’s like, because it was fed to me for years.

            We need to be really scared of all those totally evil people who hate us and can’t wait to do nasty things to us. The world is just brimming with them–they’re everywhere! Let’s all be very, very afraid, and butt-hurt, and aggrieved all the time. And by all means, let’s vote a straight Democrat ticket. Always.

            There’s no sense in trying to change a made-up mind.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            So you think I need to “present evidence” that common sense is sensible?

            Yes, I do. I think that laws and/or public policy solutions should be based on objective facts, not “common sense”.

            An appeal to “common sense” is an appeal to emotion, to “conventional wisdom”, to “what any damn fool is smart enough to figure out”, to “what everyone knows to be true”. It is, more often than not, based on nothing of substance — evidence or objective fact, that is — and it is, as often than not, dead wrong.

            “Common sense” held sway in the marriage equality argument for decades, slowly giving way to facts as research and evidence demonstrated that “common sense” was wrong. That’s not uncommon.

            So yes, I think you “need to “present evidence” that common sense is sensible” if you intend to base law and public policy on what you think.

            We need to be really scared of all those totally evil people who hate us and can’t wait to do nasty things to us. The world is just brimming with them–they’re everywhere! Let’s all be very, very afraid, and butt-hurt, and aggrieved all the time. And by all means, let’s vote a straight Democrat ticket. Always.

            What has any of this to do with the question of whether sexual orientation should be added as a class to public accommodations laws? What does this add to a reasoned evaluation of the effectiveness or wisdom of public accommodations laws versus letting the market handle the matter?

            Nothing. It is bitter spouting, adding nothing.

            That’s a neat trick. … Have I beaten my wife lately? … You’ve drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid. … There’s no sense in trying to change a made-up mind.

            Uh, huh. Lori at her absolute best.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      By that logic we’d still have Jim Crow laws in the south. I’m not saying that we’d suddenly go back to that at this point, but the south would not have naturally evolved into desegregation of its schools on its own. In fact some cities in my area did not desegregate until the mid 1970s…over 20 years after Brown. Sorry but the idea that people left to their own devices will eventually do the right thing is just not borne out by the evidence and also there’s no reason that black people should have had to wait around for another 100 years for that to happen. The market in much of the US favored segregation so market pressures would have favored the status quo, not civil rights.

      Reply
  9. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Sorry but the idea that people left to their own devices will eventually do the right thing is just not borne out by the evidence …

    I think that’s true, but it seems to me that there is a straightforward way to test Lori’s theory: Do solid, reliable, longitudinal research comparing the nature, extent and frequency of business discrimination against gays and lesbians in the states, comparing the results in states with and states without public accommodations laws covering sexual orientation.

    The difference, if any, in rates of discrimination, evidence one way or the other about the efficacy of Internet and social media campaigns to put discriminating businesses out of business, and so on, might point us to an answer based on facts rather than theory.

    I have an open mind about the efficacy and necessity of public accommodation laws at this time, when societal and cultural expectations favor the idea that businesses should serve the public without discrimination. All the polls I’ve seen in recent years show that a strong majority of people support that idea. But I don’t think we have any facts to back up the theory at this point unless we can find evidence that cultural/societal expectations will lead to the result that Lori’s theory suggests.

    Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      Such a study would be pointless.

      Since you would necessarily have to rely on self-reporting (and the believability/verifiability issues that induces), folks that think your study is showing too little discrimination would say that folks aren’t being honest because of fear, and folks that think the study is showing too much discrimination would say that folks aren’t being honest because they want to be martyrs and drum up sympathy.

      In the end, no matter how good your study actually was, it would fail to sway the vast majority of people.

      Throw in that Republicans/Conservatives are openly hostile to science these days…

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      John, I understand what you are saying, but to my mind finding out the facts is important for its own sake, so that arguments can be objective and reasoned, and, if and when necessary, a body of evidence exists to be presented in court.

      Reply
      • posted by JohnInCA on

        “[…] but to my mind finding out the facts is important for its own sake […]”
        Broadly speaking, I agree.

        In this case? Even if we side-step the ability to do a good study (and there are plenty of problems†), it’s pointless.

        There’s three outcomes of the study. That non-discrimination laws encourage anti-gay discrimination, that non-discrimination laws suppress anti-gay discrimination, and that non-discrimination laws neither suppress or encourage anti-gay discrimination. In the first, the conclusion will be that the laws encourage gay folks to be out, which exposes them to more discrimination. The second will have the “these places need laws” conclusion. And the third will be “we need to do another study”.

        And that’s if they don’t throw in the “well, it’s self-reporting, so we didn’t measure anti-gay discrimination, just the perception of anti-gay discrimination” caveat.

        And here’s the thing: you won’t get another study. Because of the size and cost, that study isn’t going to be repeated.

        Of course, there’s also the bigger issue: it doesn’t matter. When a city, state, or nation adopts non-discrimination laws, it (broadly speaking) isn’t a reaction to a prevalent problem, it’s a moral stance that such things shouldn’t happen. That’s why the CRA (1964) goes well beyond race/ethnicity, but covers religion, sex, and national origin. It’s why things like marital status, veteran status, and so-on have been added. Why things like “is a cop” has been added in some places. Because it’s not a reaction to a problem, it’s a moral stance.

        So if you’re in court, the actual number of incidents? Won’t matter.
        ________
        †(1) Relying on self-reporting because in places without non-discrimination laws there’s no official way to report incidents.
        (2) Anti-gay bias making people more likely to stay closeted, thus reducing the visibility of anti-gay bias.
        (3) Size of the study necessary. Seriously, this one wouldn’t just be to get national data, but to get enough respondents in each state? And keeping in mind that it’s not enough to find a gay person in your random sampling, but to find an out gay person who might be subject to discrimination? And throw in that we probably need enough respondents within a state to differentiate the rural/urban crowds… This is a huge fucking study, and exorbitantly expensive.

        Reply
  10. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    On a side note, the number of anti-equality bills introduced in state legislatures so far this year stands at 61 and counting. We’ll be busy again this year, it seems.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      I think the HRC will be busier chasing after the latest OMG Gay News! to come from the Trump administration. This is a reference to the story involving the court case between the US and schools over transgender access to bathrooms matching their gender identity: the government is withdrawing the stay application against an order telling it to stop.

      Now when it comes to the schools I would like to see some kind of settlement. As I’m sure I’ve said, not every single school should be expected to change all its rules like lightning this exact way (isn’t that kind of cookie cutter thinking why Betsy DeVos almost wasn’t confirmed?). But every student does need to be treated with decency and have their gender identity accepted by the school.

      Oh, right. My point is that this is where we need more of those public interest campaigns or more of that government intervention–the right kind. There should be no need for the frowning transgender bathroom pictures when this is even half-done.

      Reply
      • posted by JohnInCA on

        “[…] not every single school should be expected to change all its rules like lightning this exact way […]”
        “[…] every student does need to be treated with decency and have their gender identity accepted by the school.”
        … you do realize those are two contradictory thoughts, yes?

        Reply

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