Progressives miss their target often today yet when trying to understand why today’s followers seem mystified or unaware. Leaders of the modern progressive movement have no problem promising people the same types of hope and change that’s been promised by the movement for more than 60 years. Tried and true, the pitch is delivered with accuracy time and again. Soak the rich, help the poor, all will benefit when we are more equal yet their equality is illusive.
While declaring their commitment to helping protect the poor and downtrodden from the evil rich these same leaders know the original progressive agenda has been abandoned. Centrally planned assistance programs that fail are simply failing due to a lack of complete control, their followers are told, but they will be there to insure efforts are not reversed, no setbacks allowed in the progressive efforts. Donate, vote, and trust progressives striving for the people, to the people, win the people, soak the people.
Progressive originalists are harder to find than conservative originalists and neither group are accepted into the inner circles of today’s leadership of these movements. The conservative cause is a subject for another time, easily as off target as progressives are. Yet those who claim they are progressive, at the citizenship level, are easily swayed toward embracing leaders long ago focused on their own self-interests before their constituents’ needs.
Progressive promises have reached such a level of pure inability to deliver the disenfranchised are opening their ears to democratic socialism as the answer to their plight progressives were supposed to solve. This is not so different than when the progressive movement was born amidst a time of party government, graft, and corruption. Wilson, Roosevelt, Goodnow and others stirred the hearts and minds of those feeling most oppressed by corporations, expanding through industrial revolutions built on the backs of labor. With a progressive approach human nature was ready for trusting to administer programs based on their belief in expert, administrative oversight. Interest in the Socialist Labor Party of America was waning as this progressive movement took root.
“The original Progressives did not provide a detailed road map for the development of 20th-century liberalism as much as they laid the intellectual foundation for the concrete advances to be made by those who would follow them.” (Pestritto & Kempema, 2014) Aiming for specific changes would move the country toward a remedy for party government’s adulteration of separation of powers and Constitutional law. Based on a fallacy human nature provided inalienable rights to liberty Progressive philosophy was based on the evolution of human nature. Following a Darwinian view Wilson led an educational change in how the people viewed their Supreme Law. Oppressive standards of living brought into question the effectiveness of controlling factions, parties were out of control. Among the changes direct democracy and administrative law would address were:
– An end to corruption of party politics regarding the appointment of bureaucrats. Known as the spoils system, Progressive focus was on severing the ties to factions by delegating authority to administrative ‘experts’ who would protect the people due to evolving to a level of trust rather than a reliance on political bosses. Trust was secured through just compensation for the work the expert would perform, evolved to a selflessness unanticipated by the founding generation. Bureaucrats would justly determine the regulations necessary to support the law, determine the penalties for violating regulations, oversee investigations and determine guilt or innocence of those found in violation of regulations, carry out the penalty phase and determine proper appeals processes within the department responsible for the regulation(s).
– Control the inherent challenges of the separation of powers doctrine through delegation of powers in a national administrative apparatus. Long overdue was a living approach embracing human nature’s advancement toward direct democracy, popular vote, and administrative organizations overseeing many aspects of life efficiently and safely void of corruption by those seeking control and power.
– “The period of constitution making is passed now. We have reached a new territory in which we need new guides, the vast territory of administration.” (Wilson, The Art of Government, 1885) Bureaucracy would not be corrupted by political connections to parties and the whims of the rich. Administrative law, complete with total power to regulate, enforce, and adjudicate, would be far more efficient and supportive of the government’s requirement to satisfy the needs of those able to gain a voice.
– Natural rights are an impediment to progress which is one reason European governments were more responsive to people’s needs, they did not share the notion. Government is not formed to protect rights. “The rights which an individual possesses are, it is believed, conferred upon him, not by his Creator, but rather by the society to which he belongs. What they are is to be determined by the legislative authority in view of the needs of that society. Social expediency, rather than natural right, is thus to determine the sphere of individual freedom of action.” (Goodnow, Liberty and Government, p.11)
Today leadership of the progressive movement is seen rooted within the Democrat Party with Hilary Clinton attempting to finally secure her role in caring the movement forward. At the heart of recent history is untold corruption and party control far more rampant than in the founding Progressive Era. Money funnels through many hands, foundations, and influence mills as power, access, and regulatory defense protects delegation of powers and administrative law.
Missing the target completely does not stop those controlling members from continuing the experiment no matter the on-going ramifications. Liberty exercises a right to choose, freedom the responsibility to live with the resulting consequences. Once regulatory control is combined with factional drive progressive policies are certain to continue reaping bad results for those told help would be coming. Progressives miss their targets because human nature has not evolved as far as Wilson had taught. Is it time to end the era of progressive regression?