The Cancer of Progressivism

By dancingintheraine

September 30, 2009

Category: Uncategorized

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<p><i>Common Sense – Chapter 5; Part 1</i></p>
<p>     Many people will hear the word <i>Progressive</i> and immediately think of liberals or Democrats—but they’re not synonymous.  Progressivism has less to do with the parties and more to do with individuals who seek to redefine, reshape, and rebuild America into a country where individual liberties and personal property mean nothing if they conflict with the plans and goals of the State.</p>
<p>     If the Progressive cancer were limited to define political systems, it would be fairly straightforward to isolate it, treat it, and eventually be free from disease.  But it’s not.  It’s infiltrated both political parties and the entire political class—the bureaucrats, lobbyists, trade unions, and corporations that all look at government as their own personal ATM machine.  The Progressives weren’t interested in taking over the political parties, because that kind of thinking was too small; they wanted their movement to engulf the entire country.</p>
<p>     The Progressives on the right believed in Statism and American expansion through military strength while the Progressives on the left believed in Statism and expansion through transnationalist entities such as the League of Nations and then the United Nations.</p>
<p>     Progressivism is why, with few exceptions, Americans feel as though the candidates they get to choose from are pretty much the same.  Do you elect Progressive candidate A, or <i>really Progressive</i> candidate B?</p>
<p>     One of the hallmarks of Progressive thought is the concept of redistribution: the idea that your money and property are only yours if the State doesn’t determine that there is a higher or better use for it.  You can see that kind of thinking in the words of onetime <i>Republican</i> president Teddy Roosevelt, who gave a speech titled “The New Nationalism,” in which he spoke about “human welfare,”  Personal property, Roosevelt said, is “subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.”</p>
<p>     His thoughts on accumulated wealth were equally as surprising.  In the same speech, Roosevelt said, “We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used.  It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damaged to the community.  We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.  This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.”</p>
<p>     As a perfect reflection of that attitude, you should remember that Teddy Roosevelt not only endorsed a progressive income tax, but was also the first American president to call for national health insurance.</p>
<p>     Woodrow Wilson, a democrat was the next president to further the Progressive agenda.  Like Roosevelt, Wilson didn’t believe there were any restrictions on government’s power.  “For it is very clear,” he said, “that in fundamental theory socialism and democracy are almost if not quite one and the same.  They both rest at the bottom upon the absolute right of the community to determine its own destiny and that of its members.  Men as communities are supreme over men as individuals… Democracy is bound by no principle of its own nature to say itself nay as the exercise of any power… The difference between democracy and socialism is not an essential difference, but only a practical difference—is a difference of organization and policy, not a difference of primary motive.”</p>
<p>     These two presidents serve as the idols and philosophical foundations for their respective parties—yet both wanted far more governmental control.  (Roosevelt: “It has become entirely clear that we must have governmental supervision of the capitalization, not only of public-service corporations doing an interstate business.”)  Perhaps that he explains why those same parties today seem to continually produce the same results—irrespective of what they promise on the campaign trail.</p>
<p>     Like today, the early-twentieth-century Progressives loved to rely on “experts” and used them as an excuse for expanding their power.  When Progressives brought America the Federal Reserve System, it was so that our banking and financial industries could be regulated by experts.  When they brought us increased government interference in the classroom, it was because education experts knew better than parents how best to teach our kids.  When they brought us land conservation, it was because experts had figured out that we were abusing land.  And when the first waves of the Nanny State appeared, it was because experts decided that we were drinking too much (Prohibition), not paying enough taxes (introduction of the progressive income tax), and spending our money on the wrong things (redistribution through the tax code).</p>
<p>     And it hasn’t ended yet.</p>
<p>     In 1991, the Progressive Congressional Caucus was formed and its roster of members now includes over seventy representatives and one senator.  Their power and influence is reflected in the face that half of all House standing committees are chaired by a member of this caucus.  These politicians may be the most outspoken and radical members of the Progressive movement, but they’re not alone.  There are plenty of others in Congress who share some of the basic ideologies but don’t publicly declare themselves Progressives.</p>
<p>     For example, consider former president George W. Bush’s defense of the massive wealth redistribution that took place through his Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Plan (Part D).  “If you’re a low-income senior,” he said, “the government’s going to pick up a significant portion of your tab… If you’re an average-income senior, you’re going to see your drug bills cut in half.”  Of course, when Bush said that the government would be picking up the tab, he really meant that the tab would be paid by American taxpayers and their children, and their grandchildren.</p>
<p>     When Hillary Clinton was asked if she was a liberal during the nationally televised presidential debates, she responded that she preferred “the word <i>progressive</i>, which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the twentieth century.”  She went on to say, “I consider myself a modern progressive, someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we’re working together.”  That should have been a marching order to Americans to go back and read the history of the early-twentieth-century Progressive movement.</p>
<p>     Even John McCain, the “conservative” candidates, once said that Theodore Roosevelt was one of his favorite presidents.  And you still wonder why it feels like elections offer us no real choice?  These candidates may come from different political parties, but their philosophy of the government’s role all came from the same corrupt well.</p>
<p>     The presidential election of 2008 was truly a repeat of the presidential election of 1912, in which America was really only offered a Progressive Republican and a Progressive Democrat as candidates.</p>
<p>     Parallels between the words and actions of our current president and those of our Progressive forefathers aren’t hard to find, either.  Woodrow Wilson once said, “We must demand that the individual shall be willing to lose the sense of personal achievement and shall be content to realize his activity only in connection to the activity of the many.”  That sounds eerily like President Obama’s campaign answer to Joe the Plumber, who was worried that his taxes would rise.  “It’s not that I want to punish your success,” Obama told him.  “I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance to success, too.  I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”</p>
<p>     As I said before, Progressives didn’t simply want to create a new party, they wanted to usher in a new form of government.  After all, elected representatives were fallible because they were selected by ordinary people instead of those trusted “experts.”  But those weren’t just words, they were a call to action.  The Progressive era was an immediate manifestation of that call, but it was far from the end of it.  Over the last century, Progressives have successfully moved our country toward more governmental control and less personal freedom—and they’re still pushing the envelope.</p>
<p>     I want to be clear:  Progressives are not doing this as some sort of master plan to take down America.  In fact, it’s just the opposite—they love their country and genuinely believe that this is the best way forward.  The problem is that there are fewer and fewer people able to stand in their way because we don’t teach real American history any more, let alone the real history and vision of the Progressive movement.  The principles of freedom and liberty and the beliefs of our Founding Fathers have basically been white-washed from the curriculum, leading to generations of Americans who have no idea what people like Wilson or Teddy Roosevelt really stood for.</p>
<p>     The Progressives view the Constitution as a living organism that evolves with time and changes depending on circumstances.  Both the Progressives and the Founding Fathers view the Constitution as a set of handcuffs—but the difference is that our Founders believed that it was the power of the State that was to be cuffed, while Progressives believed it was individuals who were cuffed to the greater good of the group.  One of those two positions will eventually win out and that will dictate how future generations live their lives.</p>
<p>     The battle between these two philosophies is taking place right now in all areas of our lives, but there are a few key issues that Progressives are using to drive their agenda forward:  the environment, gun control, education, and religion.  As we go through each of them, consider how our leaders have bypassed the idea of massive, overnight change in favor of reshaping our opinions slowly over time—a concept that James Madison warned us about well before Progressivism had even been given a name:</p>
<p>     <i>I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation.</i></p>


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