Progressive Leftism Is Un-American – Here’s Three Reasons Why

Progressivism and the American Constitution Are Incompatible.

Progressives who now dominate the modern-day Democratic Party like to think their political ideology is patriotic, realistic and morally grounded. Unfortunately, progressivism is none of these.

When American progressivism started as a social movement in the 1890’s, its goal was simple: improve the human condition. No one can argue with such a noble goal. Almost immediately, however, progressivism evolved into a political movement that took hold in the early 20th century.

From its beginning, progressive leaders realized that they would confront several obstacles to achieving their political and social goals; most notably, the American Constitution. However, progressives did not shy away from confronting the Constitution because their ideology was based on the tenets of German historicism. These tenets held that legal, economic and moral truths are all relative to their historical context. They viewed truth itself as something that could be changed based on current social or economic conditions present at a given place and time. Therefore, for progressives, such things as the meaning of the Constitution and the laws of economics could be reinterpreted at will by those serving in government to suit their political agenda. For those who believe that our Constitution stands as a bulwark against oppressive government, one should view progressive ideology with great concern. There are three important reasons for this.

Reason #1 – Progressive Ideology Undermines Constitutional Principles.

As a statement of the fundamental principles embodied in our Constitutional government, the Declaration of Independence claimed that our fundamental rights are granted to us by God and not the state. However, progressives believe that our fundamental human rights (e.g., freedom of speech and religion) can be eroded or eliminated by any prevailing majority in government if they impede the progressive goal of improving the human condition. Progressives advocate for something called the “living Constitution” that suggests that its written text does not have a fixed meaning. Instead, progressives turn the Constitution on its head to reflect what Barack Obama once called “negative liberties”, meaning it reflects what the federal government cannot do to you. Progressives will tell you that if some right or policy is not referenced in the Constitution (e.g., gay marriage, single-payer health insurance), then federal government can implement that policy. This is exactly the opposite of what the Framers of the Constitution intended, and what the Founders of our nation believed.

Reason #2 – Progressive Ideology is Disconnected from Economic Reality.

Progressives believe that economic policies cannot be based on objective laws but rather must be adapted to current social and economic conditions. They believe this because they see human nature as being formed through social relationships (aka “social constructionism”), a view that was also held by Karl Marx. Therefore, they believe human nature can be influenced by culture and cultivated by the state.

Of course, human nature cannot be cultivated or changed, it is fixed and immutable. What people respond to are the incentives they experience when interacting with other people and economic opportunities to better themselves. Empirical evidence is wholly consistent with this incentive-based view of human nature. For example, when people are subsidized to work hard (e.g. by receiving overtime pay) we observe more work. Similarly, when people are penalized for working more hours (e.g., by taxing them at higher rates) people will work less. People respond consistently to such incentives in the real world. It can also be said that most so-called “laws of economics” are driven by a clear-headed understanding of how we as human beings respond to these incentives.

Progressives reject the idea that incentives matter because it implies that human nature is predictable. Instead, they believe we must rely on what Richard Ely, an early founder of the progressive movement, once called “coercive philanthropy.” This means the state has the right to take any and all private wealth to eliminate what Ely called “pauperism.” This concept of coercive philanthropy would later be reflected in FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights, a proposal without legal standing but that still serves as a guiding agenda for modern-day progressives.

Reason #3 – Progressive Ideology Reflects Moral Relativism.

Moral relativism is a belief that there are no objective standards by which society can judge the morality of an individual’s behavior or actions. Progressives subscribe to moral relativism and believe they must replace Judeo-Christian tenets with their own secular standard of morality.

The Obama administration offered us a plethora of examples where they tried to impose moral relativism during his term in office. For example, his administration attempted to force the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic institution, to extend health insurance coverage that included birth control and abortifacients to all its employees. Such health benefits run completely counter to Catholic teaching. We also saw the influence of progressive morality on the Supreme Court when Obama appointed justices led the effort to create a fundamental right to gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. Finally, we saw President Obama’s executive order requiring educational institutions that receive public funding under Title IX to require that men who identify as women have access to women’s bathroom facilities. This order simply ignored the moral obligation of government to protect the right of privacy for young women, something progressives are always ready to defend when it comes to abortion. None of these progressive policies are required by the Constitution or the law as it stood during President Obama’s term in office. However, progressives believe they have the authority to arbitrarily define rights as they see fit. Therefore, they will simply impose their own version of morality in public policy when it suits their leftist agenda.

Progressivism is an Attack on America’s First Principles of Government.

The Progressive Movement is roughly 100 years old, yet its core ideology has changed little during that time. Progressivism rejects America’s founding principles that include individual natural rights bestowed by God, the right to own private property, a restricted federal government with limited powers, and adherence to the Constitution. Despite what they might say, theirs is a movement that believes in what James Madison called “tyranny of the majority,” where our most fundamental of rights can be upended for political expediency. For a progressive, America is anything but exceptional. That is why, in summary, progressivism is un-American.

Here is How You Can Help Defend America Against Progressive Ideology.

If you are the parent of a millennial and want to inspire them to understand more about American exceptionalism, free markets and help them defend our nation against progressivism, there is something that you can do. Give them a copy of Conquering the Political Divide – How the Constitution Can Heal Our Polarized Nation. This book provides the grounding we all need in basic civics and economics to help us defend ourselves from progressive ideology. Order your copy today by clicking here.

If you would like to suggest a topic for a future blog, or to provide us with feedback on this commentary, email us at: [email protected]

Eric Beck
Free Nation Media LLC
Greenville, South Carolina


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Eric Beck


  1. Quentin Dekorte on September 5, 2019 at 10:55 am

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  2. Wimrog on August 12, 2020 at 11:28 am

  3. Wimrog on August 15, 2020 at 9:11 am



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