|Woodrow Wilson - Godfather of Progressivism|
AND conservatives are NOT stuck in the mud. We were once considered liberals. When the country was founded, the founding fathers were very much liberals. It was the American Tories (conservatives) who opposed the Revolution, even serving in the British Army to put down the rebellion. The liberal authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were heavily influenced by the philosophy of noted 18th century philosopher, John Locke, and others of the time. They believed in small government and that all men are created equal. They were against setting up a "noble" class, all except a few Federalists, who thought they ought to become a ruling nobility. Thanks to Jefferson and Washington and others, the idea of creating an American noble class was shot down.
Later in the 1800s, upper class Americans came to consider themselves a breed apart - a new nobility if you will. They seized on the ideas of Charles Darwin to try and make the case that some folk were genetically superior to others and that those traits were passed down to their progeny. They latched on to socialist ideas propounded by Marx and Engels to justify the idea of an elite ruling class and a classless society or more accurately a single class proletariat which served the collectivist state ostensibly for their own good. Of course, it was clear to these earlier "progressives" that they should rule such a collectivist state, given their genetic intellectual superiority. This was, of course, for the people's own good.
The Democrats seized on this because it fit the Southern notion that certain folk were naturally inferior to the upper classes and that these societal elites were chosen by God to rule. Actually, most of the upper classes didn't believe in God anyway. As American theologians more and more challenged that notion of the natural superiority of any particular class, the Democrats soon openly pushed aside the notion that God had anything to do with anything anyway and became the socialist, elitist, paternalistic, and damned near atheist political party that it is to day.
Early progressives under Teddy Roosevelt were well-intentioned and actually did some good for the working class. Unfortunately, the very people who were responsible for the exploitation of working Americans seized upon the movement as a means to convince the very people they exploited to embrace socialist style collectivism as a means to achieve freedom for all workers. The slave masters simply adopted a new racket to maintain their position and profitability. It wasn't long before progressives adopted the ideas of the eugenicists and began sterilizing the "mentally feeble" and passing laws to prevent certain immigrant races from owning land, putting quotas on certain racial immigrant groups and discouraging black migration from the South to the North. Progressives built statues of Mussolini at Rockefeller Center and praised Hitler and Stalin's policies and then smoothly morphed into patriots and New Dealers and tried to pretend they'd had nothing to do with their previous "progressive" ideas once it became clear that those were the ideas had bred monsters like Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler.
Democrat/progressive/liberal propaganda links these three nebulous ideologies into a single unified whole in the public mind. Conservatives and Republicans (at least up until the age of Trump) have been defenders of the idea of decentralized, limited government, individual rights and equal opportunity for all. Just because they call themselves "progressives" doesn't make them progressive. The ideals spelled out in the Declaration and the Constitution are as progressive now as they were then. Modern so-called progressivism is, in point of fact, entirely regressive, seeking to drive society backwards to the old feudal system of a one class peasantry (Marx called them the "proletariat") ruled over by an elite class of self-identified "leaders" who live in their dachas and mansions and rule over the human hive that socialism always tries to mold a society into.
The term "liberal" has come to mean the polar opposite of what it meant during the time of the Founding Fathers. In those days liberals believed in the rights of all men and women, equal opportunity, and the elimination of rule by elites. Today "liberal" according to its own advertising means a strong central government that doles out housing, medical care, jobs and opportunity as determined by central planners and a leader class which takes care of the proletariat while the proletariat collectively serves the state.
Like I said, if that's not what liberalism means, then they need to get themselves some new PR guys. What I hear from the left is that liberalism is about feeling good because you give your responsibility for your neighbor over to the government. To me it seems that all that does is make you feel okay about walking past your injured neighbor like the Pharisees of Jesus' parable, secure in the knowledge that he can go to a dot-gov website and apply for government aid if he needs help and you don't have to be bothered about his difficulties.
© 2017 by Tom King