President George W. Bush was probably the most maligned president of modern times (though fans of President Obama make that claim for him).
Last night Rudi Giuliani, the great former mayor of New York, said in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, that President George W. Bush had kept Americans safe after the Muslim mass-murder attack of 9/11, and for that America owes him honor and gratitude. We agree. In practice President Bush did a good job.
Where we did not agree with President George W. Bush himself, was on a matter of theory: his political philosophy of “compassionate conservatism”. (It’s a sentimentality that Governor John Kasich now puts in his shopwindow as he advertises himself for the Republican presidential nomination.)
Compassion is an emotion. Individuals feel it or hold it as a moral value. But the state has no emotion. A government has no heart. Government is for protection – of the nation by means of a strong military defense, and of the individual by the rule of law strictly and indiscriminately applied. Government is not a father or mother or nanny or sugar daddy. In conservative philosophy, it has no duty to provide for the people it protects. It has no means to do so. It is not the nation’s money earner. It ought not to be an agency that forces some people to give it money so that it can hand it to other people. .
But in socialist philosophy, providing for the people’s needs is government’s chief function. Socialist government starts by “redistributing” private wealth: taking money from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not. The long-term plan is for government (euphemistically, “the people”) to “own the means of production, distribution and exchange”. In plain words, to own everything. A socialist government is in loco parentis. The people are its children whom it must house, feed, educate, medicate, and make all decisions for. It knows what is best for you, and your duty is to obey it. It will give you what it judges you need – or withhold it if you step out of line. If you are disobedient, you will be punished. If you put your personal interests above the government-ordained interests of the collective “All”, you may find yourself provided with no house, no food, no schooling, no doctoring, and – once the grip of a socialist regime has become absolute, as in Russia in the last century – no means by which you can supply these needs for yourself.
Socialists, Communists, Marxists – let’s say Leftists in general – believe that History (a sort of god whose prophet was Karl Marx) is moving humankind in a certain direction it has pre-ordained. Towards a world in which people live without private possessions. Where each is concerned only with the good of All. (Invention, which is essentially an individual enterprise is thus made impossible, so no actual advance is ever made.) Moving towards that utopia is what Leftists mean by “progress“.
That’s why they call themselves “progressives”.
Professor Walter Williams writes at Townhall:
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders seek to claim the “progressive” mantle. Both claim the other is not a true progressive. Clinton teased Sanders as being the “self-proclaimed gatekeeper for progressivism”. Bernie Sanders said that Hillary Clinton can’t be both a moderate and a progressive and that most progressives don’t take millions from Wall Street. But let’s talk about the origins of progressivism. It’s only historical ignorance that could explain black affinity for progressivism.
The Progressive Era is generally seen as the period from 1890 to 1920. President Woodrow Wilson, a leading [Democrat and] progressive, had a deep contempt for the founding principles of our nation. Progress for Wilson was to get “beyond the Declaration of Independence”, because “it is of no consequence to us”. President Wilson implored that “all that progressives ask or desire is permission – in an era when ‘development,’ ‘evolution,’ is the scientific word – to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine”.
President Woodrow Wilson was a believer in notions of racial superiority and inferiority. He was so enthralled with D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation movie, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan, that he invited various dignitaries to the White House to view it with him. … When President Wilson introduced racial segregation to the civil service, the NAACP and the National Independent Political League protested. Wilson vigorously defended it, arguing that segregation was in the interest of Negroes. Booker T. Washington wrote during Wilson’s first term, “I have never seen the colored people so discouraged and bitter as they are at the present time.”
President Woodrow Wilson’s predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, was another progressive captivated by the notions of racial inferiority. He opposed voting rights for black Americans, which were guaranteed by the 15th Amendment, on the grounds that the black race was still in its adolescence. …
The Progressive era gave birth to the “separate but equal” doctrine that emerged from the Supreme Court’s notorious 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, a case that symbolized Jim Crow racism. Progressives were also people who attacked free-market economics. Along with muckraking journalists they attacked capitalistic barons. They were advocates of what might be called “scientific racism” that drew from anthropology, biology, psychology, sociology, eugenics and medical science. …
Legal scholar Richard Epstein concludes that progressivism sought to grant the state vast new authority to manage all walks of American life while at the same time weakening traditional checks on government power, including private property rights and liberty of contract, two principles that progressives hold in contempt. Epstein notes, “The sad but simple truth is that the Jim Crow resegregation of America depended on a conception of constitutional law that gave property rights short shrift, and showed broad deference to state action under the police power.”
It is clear that today’s progressives have the same constitutional contempt as their predecessors. I hope they do not share the racial vision. Black voters ought to demand, at a minimum, that progressives disavow their ugly racist past.
They should re-label themselves to something other than progressives, maybe compassionate totalitarians.