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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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Eric BeckEditor-In-ChiefFree Nation Media LLCGreenville, South Carolina###