Learning to recognize Progressives is our first defense against tyranny
By Seth Richardson
In a September column, “Libertarianism and Collectivism”, I discussed the general principles of the two political ideologies and pointed out that collectivists, at least the honest ones, are forthright in their belief that the individuals of a society owe a duty to the collective, and that prosperity for the collective requires sacrifice of individual interests in the name of the public good.
Moderate collectivists, known today as “Liberals” and sometimes “Moderate Democrats,” are willing to acknowledge that individual rights do exist, at least to one extent or another, and have the grace to at least moderate their ideological quest for equality of outcome with a grudging obedience to due process and some modicum of conciliation towards the liberty interests of the People and the Constitution. Moderate Democrats are at least willing to engage the process our Republic uses to make law.
Progressives, however, have no compunctions whatever about imposing their vision of Progressive utopia over the strident objection of everyone, if they can manage it by hook or by crook. And that Progressive arrogance and disrespect for both due process and public opinion is precisely what we’re seeing in Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and all their ilk, both within the Democrat and Republican parties, as they attempt to ram government-run health care through the Congress.
It has become essential to the preservation of the Republic and our individual liberty to learn how to identify Progressives wherever they may metastasize. With that in mind, I’m going to discuss what the Progressive ideology is, and what it has planned for you and I.
The beginning of American Progressivism in government was Teddy Roosevelt, our first Progressive president. His major contribution was the National Parks, which were a good idea, but which were also the first move in a long-running chess game of Progressives against fundamental liberty and limited government. By claiming unbridled Executive power without a shred of Constitutional authority, Roosevelt personally reserved huge swaths of public lands and preserved them in perpetuity. The result was noble, but the process was anything but.
Never before, outside of wartime, had any President executed such sweeping and permanent changes to the complexion of our nation entirely without Congressional approval or even advice. That Congress did not balk Roosevelt was not surprising, given the beneficent intent of his exercise of executive power, but its failure to act immediately to constrain this arrogation of executive power has resulted in much mischief and has empowered Progressives beyond all reason or justice in the decades since.
But things didn’t really get rolling with the Progressives until Woodrow Wilson was elected.
Wilson, an unapologetic racist, eugenicist, Ivy-League professor and President of Princeton University, despised the Constitution and the Congress as obstructions to his vision of a “perfected” nation run by professional, unelected bureaucrats and the Executive, lead by a strong, charismatic leader (himself) who would apply science to government and run the country by executive regulation rather than rule of law. He sought to impose this tyranny of the intellectual elite for the benefit of the downtrodden lumpen proletarian masses too fundamentally ignorant and stupid to know what is best for themselves, to be sure. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is the road he set us upon, and which we tread today.
Wilson, a fan of the British parliamentary system, thought that the Congress should be a political debating club whose only purpose was to provide broad guidance to the President, who might choose to take that advice, but who, with the guidance of his hand-picked intellectually superior Cabinet ministers, would be solely responsible for determining the “unified national will” of the people, and who would be empowered to do whatever was necessary, unconstrained by law or custom, to achieve this vision.
He, like Obama and Bush the Younger (a closet Progressive who deeply admired Wilson), and many other Progressive presidents, believe that the Constitution is just a piece of paper, and that only “science” and the “unified national will” of the people, as discerned and expressed by a strong President smart enough and well-educated enough to know what that unified will is, should rule government and make law, in order to move society “progressively” closer to some undefined state of political and social perfection, through a Darwin-like evolution of political power and social science.
To Wilson, and FDR, and every Progressive since, the fundamental touchstones of our society, the very foundation on which our incredibly successful form of government was founded, our natural, unalienable, individual rights as human beings are impediments to the progress of society, which in their view has an ultimate, utopian form where the intelligentsia run the country for the benefit of the ignorant not through the rule of law and according to constitutional principles, but through the “science” of executive branch regulation handed down by professional, lifetime-tenure bureaucrats. (Side note: Wilson was the inventor of the Civil Service that entrenches bureaucrats in government and makes them harder than ticks to root out even when they are biased, corrupt, or incompetent.)
The structure of our Republic is one of three branches, the Executive, Judicial and Legislative, all equal in power and subject to the overarching will of the People. Each branch is constrained by the others in a complex system of checks and balances, including the Constitution, intended to prevent runaway tyranny.
But Progressives disdain the separation of powers, the checks and balances and the Constitution itself, and seek to impose top-down unitary Executive Branch management. Instead of the broad foundation of three equal branches, they propose an ivory tower of power, with the President residing at the penthouse of a vertical edifice that places the People at the bottom, using their bodies and rights as rubble for the foundation, with the Congress on their backs and the Judiciary treading on Congress’ power in support of the apex predator of Progressivism, the President, who rules over everyone in benign and benevolent intellectual superiority, supported by a coterie of sinister Ministers and the scientific expertise of the intellectually elite Executive Branch bureaucrats.
If the thought of groaning and sweating under the burden of such an oppressive and arrogant government scares you, it should, because Progressives are nearly there. This is evidenced by examples such as the EPA’s blatant and tyrannical disregard of the Separation of Powers Doctrine inherent in it’s threat that if Congress does not pass climate legislation, the EPA will do it through regulation.
This is a shot across the bow of our Republic by Cass Sunstein, Obama’s “Regulatory Czar,” an uber-radical Progressive who is at the moment the most dangerous man in America. Sunstein is so dangerous because he can effectuate the Progressive agenda of controlling everything in America, from the food we eat to the houses we live in, to the clothing we wear, to the cars we (do not) drive through “nudges” applied by “interpreting” existing federal regulations.
He’s able to do this because for nearly a hundred years, Congress has been giving government bureaucrats and agencies broad powers to exercise executive authority on the excuse that they will use them wisely and not abuse their authority and are under the overall supervision of Congress.
But with Sunstein in charge, and Obama in office, Progressives and outright Communists infesting our government agencies and even the White House, and a Congress under the Svengaliesque influence of Progressivism, Sunstein, at Obama’s command, and can cause massive damage to our rights and our economy without any real threat of interference from Congress.
All this happened because we, the People, lost our focus on the Founders and our own fundamental liberties. We have surrendered our essential liberties for the mere promise of safety, a promise that was a lie to begin with and could never be fulfilled anyway.
Our only hope is to learn to recognize the danger that we face, which is the first step in retaking the Constitution and the Republic from those in power who seek to destroy it.
© 2010 Altnews