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Progressives and Obama: Back to the future

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I’m still trying to figure out what’s “progressive” about stale old policies and rhetoric from the past.

One thing that has perplexed me over the last 6 years or so is how so-called liberals can, with a straight face, embrace the term “progressive.”

Obviously, the root of “progressive” is “progress.”  My trusted Dictionary.com has as its first entry for the term:

1.    favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters

Politically, as National Review’s Jonah Goldberg so brilliantly chronicled in his wonderfully illuminating book Liberal Fascism, the term “progressive” has deeper roots, going back to the days of Woodrow Wilson, Herb Crowly, John Dewey and FDR.  (Interestingly, as Goldberg illustrates in the book and as the title implies, the progressives of that time were somewhat fascistic in nature, embracing things like eugenics and, effectively, championing the “cult of personality” concept as a means of imposing “progress” on the masses.  Kinda sounds familiar, right?)  Read the following excerpt from the summary of the book  (in reference to the political beliefs of Nazi fascists in the 1940s) and tell me you don’t hear echoes of the present liberal agenda:

"It’s all so…retro."

Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.

But the historical source of the term aside, it utterly baffles me that today’s liberals, as personified by leading liberals like President Obama and former Speaker of the House (now Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, continue to claim the mantle of “progressive” thought – “Hope and Change” and all that – when their policies and rhetoric are so comprehensively outdated.

Consider.  What has been the fiscal policy of President Obama and the erstwhile Democratic Congress since taking office?  Pure tax-and-spend Keynesian economics, as evidenced by the utterly failed “stimulus” package passed in the early days of the Obama presidency, along with Great Society-like entitlement expansions like Obamacare. 

These are new ideas?  Good grief, FDR and LBJ would recognize them as their own. 

Social policy? Attempts to undo the stunningly successful overhaul of welfare programs pushed through the GOP-run Congress in the mid-90s. Speech codes on campus (and elsewhere).  Abortion-on-demand, and at all stages of life – even expanding into euthanasia.

Foreign policy?  Leading from behind.  Despicable moral equivalency between an imperfect United States and depraved and totalitarian actors around the world.  Somewhere, Jimmy Carter is smiling.

How about the rhetoric?  Class-warfare.  The mythical “war on women.”  The incessant claims of racism. 

It’s all so…retro.

In short, liberals demonstrably want to reverse the progress made during the period beginning with the Reagan Revolution and ending with Mr. Obama’s ascent to the presidency, taking us back to those halcyon days of the 70s when we enjoyed 70% marginal tax rates, stagflation, social decay and retreat around the world.

I’m sorry, but going back to Jimmy Carter’s America doesn’t sound terribly “progressive” to me. 

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Angus DuBois
Angus DuBois
Angus DuBois is the nom de plume of an entrepreneur of 20 years who, in cowardly fashion, prefers to keep his/her business identity a secret. Comments can be forwarded to angus@nexxuspublishing.com.

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