What Makes a Progressive President?

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Image via Wikipedia

History usually waits a few years or even decades before passing judgment on a sitting President to gain some objectivity although I didn’t spare any of that for the previous inhabitant of the White House (a topic for another time perhaps). By the metric I used yesterday, most people would consider President Obama to be a progressive liberal. The conservative right is convinced that he is a socialist or worse. Without going into the definition of that term, suffice to say that I would disagree with that conclusion. I think Obama has been fairly centrist; at times to his detriment.

So let’s compare him to past Presidential performance. And see how he stacks up. First we have to establish just which previous Presidents were progressive and/or liberal. Generally speaking, these tended to be Democrats; though this is not necessarily the case: Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt being obvious exceptions. Secondly, I am only going to focus on Presidents from Abraham Lincoln forward since presidential parties and politics weren’t as neatly defined prior to that (although James K. Polk and Andrew Jackson were two popular Democratic Presidents the other parties were the Whigs or Dem-Repubs). This was during the Federalist Period, or roughly the 19th century.* Thirdly, I’m using a scholarly series of surveys begun in 1948 by historian Authur Schlesinger of Harvard University. Other polls are included over the years and… well you can look at them for yourself and draw some conclusions. Here is the Wiki link for that study (among others):

Historical Rankings of Presidents of the United States

At first glance, it’s obvious that Honest Abe is the most popular President of all time. The thirteenth amendment (emancipation proclamation) alone would qualify him as progressive but he also had to deal with keeping the nation unified during our greatest internal struggle. It’s interesting to note that Lincoln was the first Republican President and instrumental in founding the Party. He was previously a Whig but became Republican because the Whig party was imploding upon itself and falling out of favour (sound familiar?).

There was a complete defection from the Democratic Party to the Republicans when Lincoln took office mostly due to the fact that many Democrats went to the Confederacy. There were still several surviving Whigs as well. This would be their swansong; however as they would disappear after the War. **

The next two presiding popular Presidents resided over the industrial revolution and the rise of the oil, rail, and steel robber barons giving us Monopolies like Rockefeller, and Carnegie. This was an era of corporations seizing as much political power as possible to maximize profits (sound familiar?). The Republicans dominated congress for the entire second half of the 19th century. So I don’t think you could consider either President progressive.

Grover Cleveland was such a darling of the fiscal conservatives it’s a mystery to me why he was even a Democrat. William McKinley; a Republican, ran on a prosperity platform that catered to the big industries. McKinley also presided over the Spanish American War and a really big subsequent land grab including Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines. He was most certainly not progressive. His second Vice-President, on the other hand, was.

Upon McKinley’s assassination by an ‘anarchist’ Polish immigrant factory worker dismayed over the chasm between the rich elites and the working class, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (Republican) took office. Incidentally, there was a small resurgence of a third party in Congress leading up to McKinley’s assassination culminating in Roosevelt’s failed Bull Moose Party. ** A clear indication of political upheaval.

Roosevelt had not always been progressive but being an avid outdoorsman, he forged a strong friendship with John Muir. I think his discussions with Muir changed Roosevelt into the progressive most people regard him as today. He led the ‘Progressive Movement’ in Congress and also formed, ironically, the ‘Conservation Movement’ (conservative has a different meaning to us environmental types). He set about regulating industry under the ‘Square Deal’, creating National Forests and Parks, spearheaded the Panama Canal, and negotiated and end to the Russo-Japanese war. He got a Nobel Prize for that; the first President to do so. There’s a reason for his likeness being chiseled in granite on a mountain in South Dakota beyond President Coolidge’s insistence that Republicans get equal billing.

So Republicans are 2-0 in the progressive President department. Republicans held both houses of Congress during this time. But that was about to change.

Enter Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Where to start? Governor of New Jersey, President of Princeton University, PhD, Nobel Prize winner, established League of Nations (fought bitterly by Republicans in Congress), Federal Reserve, Progressive income tax, Federal Trade Commission Act, Clayton Anti-trust Act; oh; and all while whipping the Kaiser’s butt in WWI. Wilson is probably the litmus test for progressive. And considered one of this nations greatest Presidents (and overachievers).

By the start of WWI both houses had gone Democratic along with the President; which explains the impressive resume of President Wilson.

The Roaring 20’s would belong to the Republicans. Three lackluster Presidents with majorities in both houses who would do little except…drive the economic car into the ditch (sensing a pattern yet?). Oh, and cut everybody off from drinking alcohol. Smart move conservative values guys. How’d that work on your crime rates and popularity?

And it may have been the first thing that Franklin Delano Roosevelt did that endeared him to Americans. He bought them a beer when he repealed prohibition. Anheuser-Busch sent their team of Clydesdales to the White House with a case of Budweiser.

Roosevelt helped guide us through the great depression. He launched the ‘New Deal’, Created the Securities and Exchange Commission to further regulate financial institutions to keep something like this from happening again (hmmmm, where have we heard that before?), started the FDIC to insure against such disasters happening to banks, created the Civilian Conservation Corps to build infrastructure projects across the nation and put people to work (hmmmm, where have we heard that before?). Oh, and all the while kicking Nazi butt and saving the world from imperial domination. Did I mention he was a Democrat?

Congress flipped dramatically Democratic during this period. In fact the 75th Congress had 333 D to 89 R in the House and 75 D to 15 R in the Senate (that’s over 75% since we only had 96 Senators at the time); the largest disparity ever.** This was mostly due to deep recession of 1936-37 blamed on the continued Republican obstruction of Roosevelt’s agenda.

What followed was a period of highly regarded Presidents; all Democrats save Eisenhower. Congress did flip back to the Republicans briefly (likely due to Harry Truman’s unpopularity).*** History has regarded Truman much more amenably. His unpopularity also helped elect Republican Dwight Eisenhower.

But probably one of the most transformative progressive Presidents of our time was Ike’s successor, Democrat John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy will be remembered for launching us towards the moon, beginning to address the civil rights that had languished for over one hundred years since Lincoln, Saving Berlin from communist rule, Pulitzer Prize winning author, establishing the Peace Corps. Oh, and all the while winning a game of chicken with the Russians over nuclear proliferation in our back yard.

Congress flipped again and would remain in Democratic hands for a generation; the House until 1994 and the Senate until 1980 when Ronald Reagan began the great Republican resurgence.***

Unfortunately, Kennedy, like Lincoln, paid the ultimate political price for being a progressive but it paved the way for another progressive Democratic President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ would finish what JFK started with civil rights (with more than a little help from Dr. King) and pass the Civil Rights Act knowing full well that it would cost him politically.  You may recall his famous prognostication about losing the south for a generation. He also set in motion the groundwork for Environmental Protections that Republicans are fighting to this day. Johnson unfortunately had to wear the albatross of Vietnam around his neck.

What followed Johnson was a repeat of the last half of the nineteenth Century; a string of Republican Presidents who either went down in flames (Nixon) or caused the biggest fundamental shift in government ever (Reagan). It has taken a whole generation to fix what Reagan broke. And we’re not out of the woods yet.

I’m won’t comment on Clinton because I don’t think there has been enough history or scholarly introspection yet. As previously noted, however I do believe George W. Bush may rank right down there with James Buchanan as one of the worst Presidents in American History. I don’t really need a lot of hindsight for that call.

So what does this mean for our current President? In almost every instant in the 20th century, it was a transformative Democratic President who had to clean up a mess left behind by a Republican administration. Obama is no different. Will he seek a second term? Who knows? Would he win a second term? Probably. It likely depends on how effective the propaganda arm of the Republican Party (FOX) spins the message.

There were two progressive Republican Presidents in Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. And I suspect there was a fundamental shift in what we consider Republican values after Roosevelt. The rest of the transformative, progressives have all been Democrats. Wilson, FDR, JFK, LBJ, and now, BHO. Obama has done more in his two years than most any other Republican placeholder, save Reagan. He, like other influential progressive Presidents, knew it would cost him political capital yet he made choices that were necessary for the country and not so much for his career. That’s what we need in leaders. People who do what is needed and not what is politically expedient.  And the Republicans know it. They fear Obama not because of his popularity, but because they know he is that transformative President that represents a threat to the way things have always been done. We sent him to Washington to change the way things get done in there. And he is doing just that. He is our President and this is how Democracy, with a capital ‘D’ works.

* The Constitution in Congress: Democrats and Whigs, 1829-1861, by David P. Currie.

** http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0774721.html

*** http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dylan-loewe/another-1994-or-another-1_b_774615.html

All Presidential trivia courtesy Wikipedia


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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49 Responses to What Makes a Progressive President?

  1. drfunguy says:

    While I believe that BHO is potentially transformative and has accomplished much, his approach to health care (insurance) reform leaves much to be desired.
    My own bias is that he should have proposed a simple, easily understood plan and if it failed, could at least have drawn clear lines on the issue and fostered significant public interest in the topic (issue identification always preceeds social change). Imagine if Obama had proposed a single-payer system heavily modelled off the Canadian one, but with improvements (such as mean-tested co-pay to avoid abuses)… he might have lost the first round but at least we’d know which side he is really on. Like Clinton, he (and/or Congress) bent over backwards to preserve the health insurance industry thereby assuring higher costs than necessary.

  2. shiloh says:

    Thoughtful Political Discourse

    hmm

    Thoughtful:

    1. Engrossed in thought; contemplative.
    2. Exhibiting or characterized by careful thought: a thoughtful essay.
    3. Having or showing heed for the well-being or happiness of others and a propensity for anticipating their needs or wishes.
    ~~~~~

    ie

    empathetic 🙂

    Soooo, only progressives are allowed to post …

  3. WA7th says:

    Sorry, but I read a Bruce Catton book once, so the emancipation proclamation (2 1/2 years older than the amendment which outlawed slavery) is not enough on it’s own to label Lincoln as a progressive, unless we’re only talking about the post-1960’s Schoolhouse Rock condensed version of history.

    Abe was a good lawyer, and one of the few minds of his time who appear now to have understood their situation in a seemingly prescient way, but that does not make him a progressive by any definition I remember from the “what is a progressive, anyway?” thread from however long ago it was. Sure, everyone wants Abe on their team now that he’s the national martyr, but no one in his day ever voted for him because he mirrored their progressive ideals.

    He didn’t issue the eProc for humanitarian reasons. He had a war to win and a Constitution to patch back together. The Fugitive Slave Act had the Union military officers and the war bond salesmen, er, I mean Constitutional scholars in a real bind. A refusal to return escaped slaves on the basis that they were captured as contraband of war would be a recognition of the confederacy as a separate nation where the US Constitution need not apply. That would be a complete refudiation of the Union’s logic for continuing the war, and great news!!! for John McCain!!!

    So, why is Abe progressive, and not merely brilliant?

  4. Realist says:

    I’m with you on that one. Lincoln gets far more credit than he deserves. And despite Chase making life miserable for him, Ol’ Abe wouldn’t fire the guy.

    Not that Lincoln was terrible. He had a rough job to do, and his two predecessors only made it harder. But that is damning with faint praise.

  5. robert verdi says:

    Woodrow Wilson was a horrendous bigot, among other things. As for robber barons you mean the guys who helped build this nation and laid the groundwork for the wealth and prosperity which we live this to this day. Oh and all those rail lines and oil reserves came in mighty handy in beating the Germans and later the communists. Of course Kennedy managed to cut taxes and would most likely be derided as a sell out blue dog by today’s modern left. FDR had enormous accomplishments as well as negatives, his interning of hundreds of thousands of Japanese in concentration camps oddly gets left out of the progressive mythology. All in all I would say these past leaders and players were far more complicated then the simple progressive formula you lay out.

  6. Bart DePalma says:

    Mr.U:

    If you want to identify the greatest progressive Presidents, you might want to start by defining progressivism and then note how each president employed its principles.

    What you have written is your own personal travelogue through presidential history of your personal faves and assumed that since you liked them, they must be progressives.

  7. Mainer says:

    Bart much of this is bound to be rather subjective so to some extent Mr. U’s list is probably bound to reflect his mindset. Look at itthis way Bart you and yours tend to worship at the image of president Reagan. I could then equally say “What you have written is your own personal travelogue through presidential history of your personal faves and assumed that since you liked them, they must be.” Well in worl world view wonderful, the saving of America, the model all else should follow. We could just as easily try to come up with criteria of what makes a conservative a president worth remembering. I still really like DDE and know you would deride him for not having been conservative enough. I still respect George Bush the elder but doubt he would get very high marks either. So yes Bart it is subjective for each of them have faced different issues and different times. We quite likely will never again see a prominent or pure progressive or conservative in out life times for the system is so messed up that it is doubtful either one could ever be elected again.

  8. Bart DePalma says:

    BTW, progressivism is the reaction of the American middle class left to socialism during the Industrial Revolution. Essentially, the American middle class left adopted a modified socialism without the class warfare against the bourgeoisie (themselves) and without the wholesale confiscations of their property and called it progressivism.

    Progressivism at its core is government by experts which transcends politics (aka democracy) and rules by fiat through an array of non-democratic regulatory agencies.

    The ruling experts would be an educated middle class elite (progressives themselves) similar to the German Bildungsburgertum.

    Because the Constitution requires a representative democracy of limited powers, progressives have been at war with the Constitution from the outset.

    Progressivism’s goal is socialist redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to themselves (the middle class) and the poor by (ab)using the government’s police and tax powers rather than the socialist ownership of the means of production.

    You will notice the recurring theme of progressives removing themselves from the strictures of their own rule.

    Until recently, progressives limited themselves to placing negative restrictions on business rather than attempting to affirmatively run business like true socialists. Obama crossed that threshold to affirmatively direct the economy using progressive police and tax powers – essentially progressivism evolving into a new variation of socialism.

    In any case, forget the last paragraph and apply the previous principles of progressivism to determine which Presidents were actual progressives.

  9. filistro says:

    @Bart… Progressivism’s goal is socialist redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to themselves (the middle class) and the poor by (ab)using the government’s police and tax powers rather than the socialist ownership of the means of production.

    This from the guy who wants people to eschew subjectivity 😛

    I would say “progressivism’s goal” is the creation of an inclusive and “progressive” society through collective societal effort and the intelligent deployment of national resources though efficient government.

    What’s the goal of conservatism, Bart?

  10. Mainer says:

    Bart there are times when you are such a tool. You see no danger to the most masive transfer of wealth this country has ever seen (supporting numbers for which have appeared on here numerus times in the past) with said wealth all going to an ever decreasing number at the top but piss and moan at any effort to keep the American middle class from disapearing compleatly. Which part of this isn’t 1800 any more do you not understand. We are a complicated society of some 312 million individuals and allowing all the money to be concentrated in the hands of a few is quite possibly one of the most dangerous situations this nation has yet faced. That you don’t get it doesn’t make it any less dangerous. We are a society with shared needs. To act in concert as adults to accomplish socieatal goals isn’t trying to destroy any thing other than your power is every thing wet dreams.

    We and the rest of the developed world are now hybrid societies to even attempt at this point to turn back the hands of time so you and yours can revel in simplistic unreality isn’t just dangerous it borders on lunacy.

  11. Bart DePalma says:

    @Bart… Progressivism’s goal is socialist redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to themselves (the middle class) and the poor by (ab)using the government’s police and tax powers rather than the socialist ownership of the means of production.

    filistro says: “This from the guy who wants people to eschew subjectivity ”

    C’mon now. What are the purposes of the minimum wage, overtime law, welfare, medicaid, protections for unions, the progressive income tax and the death tax if not redistribution of wealth.

    filistro says: “I would say “progressivism’s goal” is the creation of an inclusive and “progressive” society through collective societal effort and the intelligent deployment of national resources though efficient government.”

    That is an absolute masterpiece of meaningless obfuscation.

  12. Bart DePalma says:

    Mainer says: “You see no danger to the most masive transfer of wealth this country has ever seen (supporting numbers for which have appeared on here numerus times in the past) with said wealth all going to an ever decreasing number at the top but piss and moan at any effort to keep the American middle class from disapearing compleatly.”

    A transfer of wealth is taking from Peter to pay Paul. Pray tell, how are the wealthy taking money from the middle class? Paul making more money than Peter is neither a transfer of income nor the economic destruction of Peter.

    Which part of this isn’t 1800 any more do you not understand. We are a complicated society of some 312 million individuals and allowing all the money to be concentrated in the hands of a few is quite possibly one of the most dangerous situations this nation has yet faced. That you don’t get it doesn’t make it any less dangerous. We are a society with shared needs. To act in concert as adults to accomplish socieatal goals isn’t trying to destroy any thing other than your power is every thing wet dreams.

    We and the rest of the developed world are now hybrid societies to even attempt at this point to turn back the hands of time so you and yours can revel in simplistic unreality isn’t just dangerous it borders on lunacy.

  13. Bart DePalma says:

    I neglected to delete the last two paragraphs of Mainer’s rant from my post above.

  14. Bart DePalma says:

    filistro says: “What’s the goal of conservatism, Bart?”

    Modern conservatism as established by Reagan has the following principles:

    1) A broader and flatter tax code.

    2) Opposition to redistribution.

    3) Acceptance of social insurance against old age and unemployment.

    4) Free trade

    5) A muscular foreign policy promoting democracy.

    6) A recognition, but usually half hearted enforcement, of traditional social norms.

    This last element is about the only concession to classical conservatism.

  15. filistro says:

    @Bart.. That is an absolute masterpiece of meaningless obfuscation.

    Sorry, I forgot how hard it is for you to grasp abstract concepts. I’ll make it easier for you.

    The difference bewteen conservatism and progressivism is (essentially,) how each philosophy views its countrymen.

    Conservatives see their fellow citizens as faceless strangers to be exploited for personal gain and enrichment.

    Progressives see their fellow citizens as indispensable teammates in an endeavor that is carrying all of mankind forward.

  16. GROG says:

    Conservatives see their fellow citizens as faceless strangers to be exploited for personal gain and enrichment.

    That absolutely cannot be further from the truth. Conservatives promote the individual over the group while progressives and liberals promote the group over the individual. Progressives see their fellow citizens as faceless strangers who are just part of a larger group.

  17. filistro says:

    @GROG.. Conservatives promote the individual over the group

    No… conservatives promote the SELF over the group.

    Progressives, OTOH, don’t even SEE the “group” as conservatives do… they see a collection of individuals, all of whom must must be able to move forward if mankind is to advance.

    The difference comes down to an examination (almost theological) of what we see as the ultimate purpose in human life. Progressives see it as playing a role in the story of humankind and its journey through time to whatever mankind has been put here to accomplish. Conservatives see it as building and amassing as much as they can for themselves and their immediate others as possible during their time on earth.

  18. filistro says:

    BTW, GROG… very cool snowflake. It suits you.

    Manly, upright and symmetrical.. fresh and clean but just a bit frisky around the edges. 😛

  19. Realist says:

    Bart, your answer here is exceptionally telling.

    You listed a bunch of things, all of which are means, not ends.

    Why are those means important to conservatism? What do they accomplish?

  20. Michael Weiss says:

    Wow. So much to cover here.

    Progressivism at its core is government by experts which transcends politics (aka democracy) and rules by fiat through an array of non-democratic regulatory agencies.

    This is a fancy way of you saying precisely the same thing I was warning about here. i.e., let’s get rid of the specialists, because they can’t possibly know more about a subject than Bart does. Or than the average voter, for that matter.

    Because the Constitution requires a representative democracy of limited powers, progressives have been at war with the Constitution from the outset.

    You do the same thing here that GROG does. You sit there as someone who doesn’t understand progressives because you’ve never been one, yet you presume to understand their motivations. Worse, here you accuse progressives of hating the Constitution. This is particularly rich, coming from a lawyer who wants to abolish a century of stare decisis.

    Progressivism’s goal is socialist redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to themselves

    My God, what a load of crap. The goal is to put into practice the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats. Would that make life better for the middle class? Sure, but that’s not the most important thing.

    You will notice the recurring theme of progressives removing themselves from the strictures of their own rule.

    I don’t notice it. Perhaps you should provide examples to make it clear to me.

    Obama crossed that threshold to affirmatively direct the economy using progressive police and tax powers…

    I presume this is the reduction in your tax deduction to which you refer here? If not, please elaborate, for I am aware of only one change in the tax code for which you have made this accusation in the past.

  21. drfunguy says:

    I would also note that some of those means were the stated desire while the actual policy was the opposite. E.g. Reagan talked a great line about promoting democracy while supporting murderous torturing anti-democratic thugs in El Salvador, Nicaragua and elsewhere. His own administration, but their own admission (see North, Oliver) ignored congressional oversight and illegally funded and supplied some of the said murderous torturing anti-democratic thugs via sales or trade of illegal drugs to Jihadist elements in Iran…
    How did that promotion of democracy thing work out for y’all Reaganites?

  22. Bart DePalma says:

    BD: “Progressivism at its core is government by experts which transcends politics (aka democracy) and rules by fiat through an array of non-democratic regulatory agencies.

    Michael Weiss says: This is a fancy way of you saying precisely the same thing I was warning about here. i.e., let’s get rid of the specialists, because they can’t possibly know more about a subject than Bart does. Or than the average voter, for that matter.

    You are the perfect example of an authoritarian progressive. Big brother knows better than the people.

    BD: “Because the Constitution requires a representative democracy of limited powers, progressives have been at war with the Constitution from the outset.”

    Michael Weiss says: “You sit there as someone who doesn’t understand progressives because you’ve never been one, yet you presume to understand their motivations.”

    Please. Progressives as simply another of a long line of authoritarian ideologies. There is nothing special about them. We classical liberals who believe in individual liberty know you very well.

    Michael Weiss says: “Worse, here you accuse progressives of hating the Constitution. This is particularly rich, coming from a lawyer who wants to abolish a century of stare decisis.”

    Do you have an inkling about your own movement’s legal history over the past century? Progressive legal theory gutted the separation of powers to allow the executive bureaucracy to legislate and adjudicate, expanded the commerce clause beyond all recognition to allow Congress to exceed its enumerated powers, gutted the takings and contract clauses to allow the bureaucracy to direct business without paying compensation. None of this is new or a secret.

    BD: “Progressivism’s goal is socialist redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to themselves…”

    Michael Weiss says: “The goal is to put into practice the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats.”

    What on Earth does that cliche have to do with the fact that the highest 20% of earners pay over half the income taxes to support the progressive welfare state?

    BD: “You will notice the recurring theme of progressives removing themselves from the strictures of their own rule.”

    Michael Weiss says: “I don’t notice it. Perhaps you should provide examples to make it clear to me.”

    None of my list of redistributionary measures hits the progressive middle class. In turn, the progressives give themselves money they did not pay through a myriad of middle class subsidies (mortgage deduction, education subsidies, childcare subsidies, etc).

    The tax code apparently does not apply to the dozens of Obama Administration tax evaders.

    The regulatory state very tellingly declines to direct academia and the professions where progressives predominate anywhere close to the degree in which they interfere with business. Also, the bureaucracy dominated by progressives excepts itself from many of the rules it imposes on others.

    BD: “Obama crossed that threshold to affirmatively direct the economy using progressive police and tax powers…

    Michael Weiss says: “[P]lease elaborate…”

    Obama classical socialism includes the nationalization of GM and Chrysler and attempted direction of banks which owed it money before the banks escaped by paying off loans they never wanted in the first place.

    What I call asymmetric socialism [directing the economy through the use of police and tax powers (instead of de jure ownership) to achieve redistribution] includes the blue green alliance plan [directing the energy economy by using cap and trade to redistribute money from and eventually destroy the fossil fuel industry to subsidize government preferred and directed green industries] and PPACA [directing the private health insurance industry to redistribute income from the wealthy and those who have insurance to almost anyone earning less than the median income].

    If you want further details, you will have to wait for my book in late 2011 early 2012. Meanwhile, if you do some serious research, there are reams of source material revealing the full scope of Obama socialism. I cite over 400 sources in my book and they keep growing everyday.

  23. Bart DePalma says:

    Realist: “Why are those means important to conservatism? What do they accomplish?”

    Maximizing individual liberty here and abroad with basic social insurance.

  24. Mainer says:

    Rant???? You think that was a rant? Bart, you rant gibberish 24/7 and have the balls to call my last a rant. Oh I see this site lighting up later this day and a first test of new site moderation. RANT? &%@*&$%& R ANT???????

    Grog at least is working toward a common definition, don’t agree but we might actually get a common point we can then frame debate around. You, you miserable pettifogging little weasel just keep shoveling more sound bite bullshit. Hey Bart I have an idea for you to champion. Lets as a first step toward fiscal stability cut all Federal money to western water projects and wildfire supression. You in Bartster? As a rugged individualist you can certainly dig your own well and get out the ole Pulaski to keep those fires from your door.

  25. filistro says:

    Now, THAT’S a rant!!

    I am applauding and cheering.

    YAY MAINER!!!!!

  26. You are the perfect example of an authoritarian progressive. Big brother knows better than the people.

    So are you. You are a lawyer. At least I’m honest about it. Moreover, unlike in 1984, I believe in the ability to audit those in whose trust we place our various decisions.

    We classical liberals who believe in individual liberty know you very well.

    Obviously not, since you ascribe motives to me that don’t exist. Your lack of intellectual curiosity makes you much more like Christine O’Donnell than you realize.

    Progressive legal theory gutted the separation of powers to allow the executive bureaucracy to legislate and adjudicate, expanded the commerce clause beyond all recognition to allow Congress to exceed its enumerated powers, gutted the takings and contract clauses to allow the bureaucracy to direct business without paying compensation.

    First of all, conservatives have done as much in those respects as liberals. Second, we have remedies to this, but nobody has bothered to try to implement them. There are good reasons for this.

    What on Earth does that cliche have to do with the fact that the highest 20% of earners pay over half the income taxes

    It’s simple, really. They still come out ahead in the end. You just have to look far enough.

    None of my list of redistributionary measures hits the progressive middle class.

    And yet they hit me. You still sure you know me?

    The regulatory state very tellingly declines to direct academia and the professions where progressives predominate anywhere close to the degree in which they interfere with business.

    In what way should they, if they were being more equitable in your view?

    Also, the bureaucracy dominated by progressives excepts itself from many of the rules it imposes on others.

    Such as…?

    …attempted direction of banks which owed it money before the banks escaped by paying off loans they never wanted in the first place.

    Oh, brother. The banks wanted to shut down instead? They were permitted to pay off the loans whenever they wished. What prompted them to do it was a desire to pay executives more money. Why should your taxes have been used to pay those higher bonuses?

    directing the private health insurance industry to redistribute income from the wealthy and those who have insurance to almost anyone earning less than the median income

    This is even richer. You yourself said this was the best option, provided we guarantee that everyone has access to health care. Have you concluded that we should be allowing poor people to die for lack of access?

  27. filistro says:

    I love it when Mainer calls Bart a “pettifogger.”

    It’s an incredibly descriptive and evocative word, isn’t it?

  28. Mr. Universe says:

    Wow. You guys are harsh. I may have implied that I was a Wilson fan but I was actually trying just to distill his accomplishments into a paragraph. My article was getting a bit unweildy. My point was look at all the things that took place under his watch. That’s progressive.

    And I really don’t have to whitewash history to make an assertion of Lincoln’ impotance. I think history’s got my back on that one.

  29. Mr. Universe says:

    BTW: GO, MAINER,GO!

  30. filistro says:

    Mr U.. …make an assertion of Lincoln’ impotance…

    “Impotance”…

    Importance? Or impotence?

    What a difference a letter makes, eh ? 😉

  31. drfunguy says:

    @BDP
    “Maximizing individual liberty here and abroad…”
    Unless you happen to be of a minority sexual orientation or elect a government of which ours doesn’t approve, or use a non-government endorsed drug, or…
    This repeated statement of respect for individual libery is transparent hypocrisy. And tiresome.
    “… with basic social insurance”. But not health insurance…
    Sometimes Bart, you sound like an idiot. Apologies to idiots.

  32. Mr. Universe says:

    I hate texting

  33. Mr. Universe says:

    I’m glad Michael has the wherewithal to take on Bart. I got tired of that awhile back. He does a much better job, too.

  34. shiloh says:

    @Bart

    history of your personal faves and assumed that since you liked them
    ~~~~~

    Much like you and faux conservative’s demigod, Reagan ~ who would not have passed the 2010 winger teabagger test lol, ‘nuf said!

    btw Bartles, (4) posts in 17 minutes as you win 538’s grand reopening door prize Congrats! 😀

  35. It does rather seem appropriate, doesn’t it? In every definition of the word, too.

  36. filistro says:

    @Mr U… I’m glad Michael has the wherewithal to take on Bart.

    Me too. Though I gotta admit there are times… when Bart’s talking points have been especially ruthlessly exposed as both vacuous and specious… I have to fight the urge to give our pet pettifogger a quick hug and whisper, “Buck up, little buddy.”

    Poor Bart.

    I’m SO glad Michael and I are on the same team 😉

  37. shortchain says:

    Personally, I don’t think all progressives would agree on the definition of what is “progressive”. After all, we don’t all agree on what is “progress”.

    I’ve got my own ideas — and by my lights, Obama isn’t a very progressive president or politician. On the other hand, his election represented progress, and progress has been made during his administration. It would be more if he, himself, were a progressive leader.

  38. shiloh says:

    lol progressives don’t agree on anything, let alone the definition B) but, but, but that’s half the fun!

    and then there’s Bartles 😉 living in his black and white teabagger world, as he laughably contradicts himself 24/7 at 538.

    Again, all I ask for is consistency.

    >

    Yes Virginia, there are very few absolutes in life ie death, taxes, 538 winger trolls total obsession w/Barack Hussein Obama.

    and so it goes …

  39. Mainer says:

    shortchain, I would at this point tend to agree with you. One of the things dragging down his approval/disaproval numbers has been his over willingness to move to the center. While he has been pummeled with all the socialist, too far left too radical clap trap of the right the truth in my world view is that he hasn’t been far enough left to provide a counter swing of the dangerous swing to the right that we have been subjected to. The next two years will at best tread water and will most likely see us lose ground unless the president gets out in front of this and hammers the obstructionist elements in this country nonstop. It isn’t of course going to happen. I suspect he is looking forward to 2012 (at least one might think he is) and as such might not want to come across as too strident but by not doing so he runs the serious risk of losing many of those that put him in there and that would include me.

    I really think the man should have never brought in the likes of Rahm. I would be much more comfortable if Howard Dean was brought back to replace do nothing Kaine especially if Steele is replaced by any of the names bouncing around. Hey Bart I can think of a great new whitehouse chief……..he will be available come Jan. and he already knows how to get to DC from Florida. I do suspect trying to be nice to Republicans might suffer but hey what has that gained us to this point?

  40. Mr. Universe says:

    Foreshadowing my next article there, shortchain

  41. Mr. Universe says:

    I tend to think Mainer may be right. If Howard Dean ran in 2012, I’d have to give him serious consideration. As much as I appreciate President Obama trying to be inclusive, I think at some point he needs to call BS and put the smackdown on McConnell.

  42. Monotreme says:

    I would just add to this discussion that either the Progessives’ motives are not pure, or else they have stumbled on an essential truth:

    The way to avoid a revolution is to fairly distribute income, and to give each person the feeling that there is a level playing field, e.g. a color-blind society, advancement based on a combination of talent and effort, and so forth.

    This is simply and cogently laid out in Crane Brinton’s 1934 Anatomy of a Revolution.

    These concepts were all rolled up into one word by the Founding Fathers: commonweal. The dictionary definition is “common welfare”. Think about this term. It is exactly what some in the above discussion have accused “the Left” of
    espousing. For example, GROG says

    liberals promote the group over the individual.

    which is, of course, exactly what the Founding Fathers meant by “promote the general welfare”. Nowhere does it say, “promote individual liberty” nor would any of the Founding Fathers recognize that as a laudable goal.

  43. Bart DePalma says:

    BD: You are the perfect example of an authoritarian progressive. Big brother knows better than the people.

    MW: So are you. You are a lawyer. At least I’m honest about it.

    Not all lawyers are progressives out to abuse the law to run other people’s lives – although far too many are. The law is meant to protect individual liberties and at their best lawyers are the soldiers in that effort. John Adams was a lawyer and a patriot fighting for freedom. Those efforts are not mutually exclusive.

    Progressive legal theory gutted the separation of powers to allow the executive bureaucracy to legislate and adjudicate, expanded the commerce clause beyond all recognition to allow Congress to exceed its enumerated powers, gutted the takings and contract clauses to allow the bureaucracy to direct business without paying compensation.

    MW: First of all, conservatives have done as much in those respects as liberals.

    Hogwash. You are free to offer evidence for this nonsense.

    MW: Second, we have remedies to this, but nobody has bothered to try to implement them. There are good reasons for this.

    What remedies are there for rewriting the Constitution?

    BD: None of my list of redistributionary measures hits the progressive middle class.

    MW: And yet they hit me. You still sure you know me?

    Then you are not middle class.

    BD: The regulatory state very tellingly declines to direct academia and the professions where progressives predominate anywhere close to the degree in which they interfere with business.

    MW: In what way should they, if they were being more equitable in your view?

    Abusing progressives would not make me feel any better about your abuse of the rest of the country.

    BD: …attempted direction of banks which owed it money before the banks escaped by paying off loans they never wanted in the first place.

    MW: Oh, brother. The banks wanted to shut down instead?

    In October 2009 during a private meeting at Treasury, Paulson ordered the top banks to take TARP loans and provided them with preprinted loan agreements even though all of them except for Citigroup had already obtained private financing to remain liquid. Paulson would hear none of it and threatened to have the regulators force the banks to take the money.

    MW: They were permitted to pay off the loans whenever they wished.

    In April 2010, Obama told the bankers no in another face to face meeting. It took them months of lobbying and probably some threats of lawsuits before Treasury let them out form under its thumb.

    MW: What prompted them to do it was a desire to pay executives more money. Why should your taxes have been used to pay those higher bonuses?

    The Banks were forced to pay extortionary rates for TARP loans they never wanted. They did not spend a cent of taxpayer money on executive bonuses.

    BD: …directing the private health insurance industry to redistribute income from the wealthy and those who have insurance to almost anyone earning less than the median income

    MW: This is even richer.

    Here is a direct quote from Max Baucus on the Obamacare redistribution of wealth: “Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.”

  44. shrinkers says:

    Shortchain:
    Personally, I don’t think all progressives would agree on the definition of what is “progressive”. After all, we don’t all agree on what is “progress”.

    You’re wrong. We all agree on everything.

  45. shortchain says:

    shrinkers,

    You say: “You’re wrong. We all agree on everything.”

    Well, that’s progress!

  46. drfunguy says:

    Yes, thats why we’re all socialist-communist-fascists

  47. Mr. Universe says:

    Yep. I did just that. Editor’s perogative. Care to rebutt with your own perspective?

  48. Mr. Universe says:

    I would argue that Progressivism’s goal is to prevent the already on-going redistribution of wealth being waged on the middle class. It has the interests of everyone in mind not the few at the top. We didn’t start the fire of class warfare but we are, by-God , going to put it out.

  49. Pingback: Rainy Monday Observations | 538 Refugees

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