At a Town hall Meeting in Atlanta in 2008 Barack Obama was asked whether-having run as a primary-season progressive-he was now shifting to the center.
This was his reply:
I am somebody who is no doubt progressive. I believe in a tax code that we need to make more fair. I believe in universal health care. I believe in making college affordable. I believe in paying our teachers more money. I believe in early childhood education. I believe in a whole lot of things that make me progressive.”
During a presidential debate in 2007 Hillary Clinton said she doesn’t really like the descriptive word “liberal,” preferring to be characterized as a “progressive.” “I prefer the word ‘progressive,’ which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century. I consider myself a modern progressive.”
Paul Ryan, quoted in the September 10th Issue of National Review, provides what is possibly the clearest and most succinct definition of what being a progressive means.
…I see progressivism as the source, the intellectual source, for the big-government problems that are plaguing us today. And to me it’s really important to flush progressives out into the field of open debate … I grew up hearing about this stuff … It never sat right with me. And as I grew up, I learned more about the Founders and [learned from] reading the Austrians and others that this is really a cancer because it basically takes the notion that our rights come from God and nature and turns it on its head and say, ‘No, no, no, no. no, they come from government, and we here in government are here to give you your rights and therefore ration, redistribute, and regulate your rights.’ It’s a complete affront of the whole idea of this country.”
Ryan does more than explain progressive ideology. He explains why, contrary to the president’s occasional patriotic posturing, Obama is reflexively antagonistic to the principles that define this nation. “You didn’t build that” was not a failure of syntax but an inadvertent expression of the belief that individual accomplishments are unimportant and possibly subversive unless directed, supported, or ordered by government. In this view, ordinary people cannot be trusted to manage their own lives. They must be led, or in the case of the unAffordable Health Care Act, forced to do what is best for them.
The arrogance Obama betrays is more than narcissism, though there is that, too. It stems from the same collectivist roots that nourished Karl Marx. Everything is relative to what government determines is best for the collective. Nothing is sacred or immutable, least of all the Constitution. In Obama’s philosophy we do all belong to government.
The conceit of progressivism is that it is modern and scientific, ever improving the human condition through government action. In fact, it is neither. At its most basic level it is what Nietzsche called “the will to power;” and what the Founders recognized as the natural human desire for domination. They devised the separation of powers and federalism to protect individual liberty by imposing limits on government. It is no accident that Obama relentlessly attacks these limitations with executive orders and Obama Care.
Declarations of benevolence to the contrary, Altruism did not motivate expanding the food stamp program; nor is compassion behind the waivers of the welfare work requirement and student loan forgiveness. A dependent citizenry is a compliant electorate, unwilling to lose what government has conferred.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
The Founders completed their work on September 18, 1787. They created a republic that successive generations transformed into the democracy the Founders feared and rejected.
It is now 225 years and counting.