Talking and walking progressive – what does it mean to be ‘Politically Progressive’?

Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang and Kamala Harris

And the presumptive democratic nominee for President, Joe Biden picks as his running mate, Kamala Harris, a woman whose politics and convictions speak to her character and leadership. A woman whose service to her nation thus far is generally admirable.

Like the historic nomination of Barak Obama, the choice of Kamala Harris is one of pride for all people of colour and singularly, for women. My excitement knows no bounds, being the gender advocate that life has taught me to be.

Social media has been awash with congratulatory messages and hashtags all directed at Kamala Harris and the ticket of Biden-Harris 2020. In the Ghanaian social media space, one hashtag (#ProgressiveTickets) seeking to create a false comparison between the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) ticket and that of Biden-Harris 2020, caught my attention. I queried my inner self as to the meaning of ‘progressive’ in contemporary political lingua and I must say it is does not in any way look like the ticket of the NDC.

The NDC has always paraded itself as a social democratic party that seeks to protect social welfare and create economic opportunities for all. It has in so many ways and so many times talked progressive but has always shied away from walking progressive. Its idea of promoting morality which is one key tenet of the progressive movement, has fallen prey to corruption, nonchalance and gross incompetence. As social democrats, one would have expected the NDC to have engaged in life transforming social intervention programmes. This is however, not the case. 

The New Patriotic Party (NPP), generally viewed as liberal conservatives with ideals that span free markets and free trade have over the years recognized that governance is not rigid and the people they seek to lead are people with real life issues that need practical real-life solutions. The NPP has over the years, embodied and have come to believe in the dynamism of governance within the context of democracy. Like the NDC, the NPP has also talked progressive but has shown up and has actually walked progressive. The evidence of this can be seen in the direct and indirect impacts of the various social intervention programmes initiated and instituted by the NPP.

For the NPP, protecting social welfare, promoting moral improvement, creating economic reform and fostering industrial efficiency are all critical themes that determine the success of government. These are loud testimonies of progressive tenets  talked and walked by the Nana Akufo-Addo led government.

The flagship free SHS policy of the Nana Akufo-Addo led government is arguably one of the most progressive social intervention initiatives by any contemporary African government. This policy’s core themes of access, quality, equity and equality resonates the with Goal 4 of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and has indirect bearings on Goals 5, 8, 9 and 10. The NDC never favoured this initiative and talked down its prospects but it took the caring government of Nana Akufo-Addo to make this campaign policy a reality and as at last academic year, about 1.2 million pupils have been enrolled under the free SHS initiative.

It is instructive that other social intervention initiatives like Planting for Food and Jobs, which seeks to create jobs for the youth in agro-business while ensuring a good buffer stock for the country; National Health Insurance Scheme, which was mismanaged by the NDC but has now received a timely revival; NABCO; Coronavirus Alleviation Programme, which has under its cap, sub social interventions are all progressive initiatives brought about by the Nana Akufo-Addo government.

The NDC talking of a ‘progressive ticket’ makes me shudder to think where they were when Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings was disingenuously disqualified from running as flagbearer of their party, heckled and maligned as being too aggressive. Where was all this talk of a progressive ticket during that time? I dare to say, fearless of all forms of backlash and invectives, that the March 15 announcement of Joe Biden to pick a woman as his running mate was what fuelled John Mahama to pick a woman as his running mate too, reducing the otherwise commendable move, to mere rhetoric and political patronage.

This was done mainly to project the NDC’s ticket unto the gains and achievements of the Joe Biden-Harris ticket. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have shown great resolve and service and have in some ways presented to the people they seek to lead their ideas and how they hope to achieve them. It is not all about the talk like earlier intimated, rather, the walk. For how can one be progressive when he terms himself a ‘dead goat’ to a section of the people he desires to lead? That is ‘willful regression’ and it is a crime punishable by electoral defeat. 

I might be heckled by loyalists of the NDC as bleeding. Yes, I am bleeding! I am bleeding to uphold the social dignity of all Ghanaians; I am bleeding to make this nation a better place for generations yet unborn; I am bleeding so that our daughters would have equal pay and equal opportunities as our sons; Oh yes! I am bleeding in service to Ghana’s development in freedom. Now that’s what being progressive is all about and that’s what this government led by Nana Akufo-Addo has been doing for the past three and half years.

Being progressive is not just about having a man or woman on your ticket. It is about posturing ideas for social change, showing dynamism and being the conscience of leadership. This has been demonstrated time and over again by the Nana Akufo-Addo led government.

To the NDC, I say leave the politics of the United States of America alone and in the words of the good old Prof. Evans Atta Mills’, may God rest his soul, “Di wu fie as3m”.

Let us all progress with the NPP!





The Scribe

LL.M (International Relations)

Ph.D. Student, Law of the Sea

Teaching Assistant, Theories of International Relations