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“Progressivism”: Blurring the Line Between Democrats and Republicans PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 06:25

It is time for Americans to understand a key political distinction between "progressives" as they relate to both Democrats and Republicans. Progressives are individuals from both parties who commonly believe in social improvement through government action. Traditionally, progressives are thought to be liberal or Democrat in nature. This is not accurate. The first progressives were actually a splinter group from the Republican Party in 1912. Today, it can be argued that most of our legislators are progressive Democrats and progressive Republicans, evidenced by the exhaustive amount of legislation from both sides of the aisle that perpetuates government's ever-growing involvement in American lives.

The notion that a progressive agenda is strictly that of liberals, Democrats, or socialists is a misconception in desperate need of correction. The past century has shown us that any salient differences between the two parties have only narrowed with each new administration and/or legislature.

Most elected officials don't want us to make this distinction because it is very revealing. The goal of both parties' leadership is to constantly remind voters of perceived differences between the two ideologies to keep the fight alive and resources flowing in. Most voters tolerate the illusion for lack of a better solution. But tolerance is no longer an option if America is to survive, let alone thrive.

Progressives, both Democrat and Republican, are interested in control. Progressives in this country are not only our legislators, but also our largest corporate executives and shareholders, as well as the leadership of the largest government-sector unions and richly endowed foundations.

Progressives cross party lines, and enjoy a cabal of public, private, not-for-profit, and union-under-the-guise-of-labor influence that, because of sheer size in the marketplace and political arena, is now moving into position to control most American futures.

We would be wise to think of the U.S. Department of Energy as one of the arms of Exxon, BP, and the major utilities nationwide, including the largest natural-gas producers. During the Bush Administration, Ken Lay, CEO of Enron, was a weekly visitor to the White House and advised extensively on energy policy, much the same way that Andy Sterns, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), advises the Obama Administration on matters of human services (welfare) and union negotiations that endow SEIU even more than it does its federal workers.

Similarly, the U.S. Treasury is heavily manned by ex-Goldman Sachs employees while simultaneously occupying positions within the Federal Reserve Bank, which is privately owned by a consortium of central banks around the world; the Federal Communications Commission would be a department of General Electric, Disney, Turner Broadcasting, and Microsoft, to name a few; the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be a subsidiary of Monsanto; the Food & Drug Administration can be seen as the quality-control faction of the big pharmaceuticals, including Pharma, which alone gave $199 million to campaigns from January through September 2009; and each state insurance commission can be viewed as a department of United Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, AARP, and the few other large health-insurance providers nationwide.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Education is arguably an extension of the major foundations that endow our universities, colleges, and elementary-through-high-school systems through exhaustive advisory on curriculum, textbook content, testing/evaluation/outcomes, etc.

Make no mistake: Most legislation considered and/or passed in the past two decades clearly benefits the major players of each industry, whether profit or not-for-profit, over any competitors and over all taxpayers.

It is imperative for voters to make this connection and cease the thinking that government is somehow more benevolent than mega-corporations. Government acts as an extension of the oligopolies that operate with impunity in this nation and are considered too big to fail, whether a financial or manufacturing enterprise. Ultimately, faith that Americans will continue to pay taxes to fund whatever legislation is unleashed ironically provides the tacit approval legislators use to justify spending without accountability.

Voters only need reflect on the past two decades of progressive policy in most of our larger metropolitan areas. Consider the government programming arising from the Department of Education, or that of Housing & Urban Development, and bear witness to the consistently dismal results across the country. For years every large U.S. metropolis has implemented every kind of progressive policy in an effort to manage its low-income populations, yet such programming has proven to be an utter failure by every conceivable measurement.

Because progressive policies are always top-down, beginning at either the federal level or the state, then trickling down to the counties and cities, they are bloated at the top but anemic at the bottom where it counts; are ill-managed from conception; are nearly always corrupt, and impose no enforceable incentive to contain costs.

It is also important to note that for every government function, the fox is watching the hen house. There is no accountability, other than to government unions where government employees are concerned. But the unions are no better; in fact they are often worse.

Last December USA Today reported that the average federal worker's pay has soared to $71,206 compared to $40,331 for the same jobs in the private sector ( There is an absurd gap in the compensation for government employees as compared with the same jobs in the private sector, including economically irrational benefits and retirement provisions that are contributing mightily to an ever-burgeoning lack of future funds to pay for such excesses.

Nor are legislators managing their own lawmaking. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of laws on the books that require timely reviews whose deadlines are consistently missed, or whose reviews are simply ignored, some for decades.

Comments (6)Add Comment
I resent your use of progressive in this fashion.
written by James B, February 18, 2010
It is your article, so you are certainly free to use any term you want in any way that you want. However to use progressive in the manner in which you did is not in keeping with the current use of the word. As Limbaugh made "liberal" a curse, for most of the world, progressive refers to liberals who are interested in the common good of society and that government is a means to that end. To throw in the corporatists is insulting. They may well want to use government to attain their ends, but their ends are for the singular benefit of their corporation/industry which is a far cry from the common good.

I will very willingly join you in pointing out the evils in our current political reality in which more and more of our government is of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation. I do not understand your motivation in tossing progressives in with the corporations.
Vote out dishonest representatives
written by Cecil ProSe Roth, February 18, 2010
People should want representatives who: #1) show that they honor their oaths; #2) pursue an improved justice system; #3) pursue a non-bias media; #4) pursue an improved fair election system; & #5) pursue a return to a normal climate. And then they should keep voting the ones out who don't ... until they get the message!
Good Intentions
written by Michael D. Elliott, February 18, 2010
James B. said, "progressive refers to liberals who are interested in the common good of society and that government is a means to that end."

I think although you believe you are a part of a movement favoring or advocating changes or reform on behalf of the people using the force of government, you fail to see that the progressive movement is nothing more than a tool of elitists to get the average citizen to help support regulations that protect and corner markets on behalf of major corporations and groups. If you truely want to be a part of a real movement of the people, I would like to invite you to look up Classical Liberalism. It is growing in popularity as each new bailout dollar gets spent on fraudulently protected big corporations who are "too big to fail".

Fantastic Article... I'll spread it around!
written by kevin hamilton, February 19, 2010
Another great editorial, Kathleen. You once again succinctly summed up the current state of the American zeitgeist. Your recent editorials are a breath of fresh air in a very polluted and convoluted media environment.You defined your terms well enough that anyone should be able to see past the labels and get to the ideas. Here's hoping you stir things up. That's what real newspapers used to do. Good luck
Finally an article that recognizes the other side of Progressivism
written by Thomas Rutherford, February 20, 2010
I greatly appreciated your understanding that the use of the Government to solve problems is the true essence of the Progressive, whether Democrat or Republican. The Progressive cause has infiltrated Churches, Governments, Charities, and Business. The private sector (including citizens) now spend more time lobbying than doing what they are supposed to be doing.

We consider it a success when we spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars to get our Government to do the right thing. But in reality, wouldn't we have been better off to save our hours and our money and let them mess up bad enough that the citizens will respond to our less well funded but sincerely non-establishment campaign.

We blindly contribute to charitable and political organizations to perform a function, but they usually spend our private contributions to lobby Government to do what we paid them to do. This demand for action corrupts Government into the power hungry beast it is today.

Corporations are part of the problem, while existing in their current form beginning in the Mid 1800's, they were largely unpopular until the early 20th century. They then began an active campaign using "Church leaders" and Private Clubs to perpetuate the myth that the corporation could offer "a safe stable middle class" through use of the capital markets (i.e. the stock portfolio). Now instead of the traditionally vibrant active, job creating middle class we have passive "investor/speculators" sucking the life out of other peoples enterprises. Once everyone figured out they could make money without work (stock market), productivity declined and the good of mankind suffered. Imagine if we were putting all our investment money into things that have proven their success, private schools, local businesses, and good local lawmen that say no to Government encroachment (like Sheriff Arpaio and Sheriff Mack).
written by Brad Vidmar, February 22, 2010
I think it's time for people to get over all these myths surrounding the "Founding Fathers"-their wise vision and noble intentions, etc-and just admitt that reprensentive government doesn't work. Our government has always been a totalitarian oligarchy.

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