Excerpt from “Progressivism,” by James Ostrowski:
Progressivism has been the dominant political ideology of the country since about 1912 when all three candidates for President were progressives. That means the vast majority of Americans were born into a progressive world and have never known any other. I contend that if one properly understands what progressivism is, the vast majority of Americans, whether they acknowledge it or not, are progressives.
Truth is objective, not subjective. If you hold progressive views, you are a progressive regardless of what you think you are or what you call yourself. For example, if you support compulsory government schools, then you must believe that government coercion can produce better results than voluntary cooperation in the marketplace, and therefore you are a progressive. Calling yourself a Republican or conservative, doesn’t change that fact any more than calling water “crude oil” changes the water in the slightest.
If most Republicans and conservatives were not fundamentally and ultimately progressive, we would expect to see various progressive programs eliminated or scaled back drastically when Republicans or conservatives gain power. That has rarely been the case at the federal or even state levels. Conservative Republicans have held power over all branches of government in many states yet not a single state has abolished government schools. Very few progressive programs have been abolished at the federal level either. In recent years, the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives and thus, in theory, could have voted to de-fund any major program in the federal budget. Yet, no major program was de-funded.
It can be argued that no major programs were repealed because those who opposed them feared losing elections if they did so. However, that implies that their own conservative Republican voters favored such programs or that large portions of the voting public favor such programs. At the very least, the failure to even attempt to abolish or roll back major progressive programs suggests a lack of hardcore ideological opposition to them which is consistent with at least a lukewarm progressivism.
However, the evidence of widespread progressivism among Americans is even stronger and more direct. Consider the major progressive programs: federal income tax; the Federal Reserve System; the federal welfare state; the war on drugs; Social Security; Medicare and Medicaid; minimum wage laws; and extensive regulation of business. The vast majority of Americans, including Republicans and conservatives, support these programs. Republican and conservative officials consistently vote to fund and continue these programs.
Polling data bears this out. The vast majority of Americans support the core progressive programs. A recent poll showed that 80% of Americans want to raise the minimum wage[i]. 79% of Americans think Social Security has been good for their country. On a wide range of progressive issues, polls are rare probably because pollsters perceive scant interest in abolishing this or that sacred cow such as K-12 government schools.
The fact that the vast majority of Americans hold to the philosophy that is destroying America, is of course a huge problem. Although there is widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of America and there has been for decades, there has been little recognition that the actual problem is the political philosophy of the vast majority of Americans.
Until large numbers of people are made aware of the true cause of American decline, their own political worldview, there simply is no hope.
Simply put, conservatism won’t change anything, because most self-described conservatives are not conservative to begin with.
[i] Good luck trying to get American industries back to the U.S. when they would be forced to pay even more in wages than they did before they left. Good luck also in getting them to stay.