California's Past Holds Key to Understanding Obama's Progressivism

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This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," February 9, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: We are live in California all this week, because this state of California, a state that I truly love. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and I've always wanted to live in the State of California.

There is no way I could live — or there are a lot of reasons I couldn't live in California. I don't think they'd have me.

But one of the other reasons is you can't afford to do business in California. And it is a microcosm of what is happening in our country.
The problems are clear to anyone who wants to look. And so are the solutions, quite frankly.

The enemy to our Constitution is the progressive movement. Stop arguing about Republicans and Democrats. It's not about Republicans and Democrats. It's the progressive movement. It was meant to evolve the United States out of a republic.

I just showed it to you with Joe Klein. Remember what he said? We're a democracy, and the more Democratic we become, the better. No, no, no.
Name, Joe Klein, the democracy that has ever succeeded. I could point to none.

It has been slow and steady. And just like you don't notice the erosion from the rocks from the beating surf at the beaches, you don't notice that overnight. You notice it in time.

You'll come to the beach one day and say, "Gee, look how much is no longer there." That is the way it is with the progressive movement and our republic.

Brian Kennedy is here. He is the president of the Claremont Institute. Brian, good to see you, sir.


BECK: You have been - at the Claremont Institute, you guys have been studying this for like, 30 years, right?


BECK: And I have to tell you, I don't know how you — your head didn't explode for all of these years, because when I figured it out a couple of years ago, I started looking into it. And it's so clear and the lies and the distortion, and the way that's permeated everything in our society, is truly terrifying, is it not?

KENNEDY: Absolutely. I mean, you really see that the progressives — they really did see that the Constitution was obsolete. They believed it was obsolete.

BECK: They still do.

KENNEDY: They were going to make it obsolete. And if you look at California progressives from a hundred years ago — Gov. Hiram Johnson. If you look at Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Croly, John Dewey, you can draw a straight line intellectually from them a hundred years ago to Barack Obama today.

BECK: OK, Hiram Johnson, most people — I mean, I don't even know who Hiram Johnson is. He was a governor —

KENNEDY: He was governor of California back in 1911.


KENNEDY: He instituted the civil service, which would eventually morph into the public employee unions. He said — as a progressive, he was one of the leading, on the state level, politicians there was. He was eventually the vice presidential nominee of the progressive party.
He was a founder of the progressive party, and he was a Republican.
So you're absolutely right, this is not a Republican-Democrat thing. The Republicans were as progressive as the Democrats.

BECK: Hey, hold on just a second. Do we have the Megan McCain? Do we have that audio? That video? Megan McCain, I played it on the radio today. We have to play it.

Megan McCain came out yesterday on "Larry King" and said, "I'm like, this progressive Republican." And nobody — she tried to describe that as somebody who is just liberal on policies.

No. It is absolutely — if progressives get their way, and there’s no ifs, ands or buts about this if you understand progressivism. It means the end of our Constitution, does it not?

KENNEDY: Well, we're living almost in a post-Constitutional age today.
There is little respect for the Constitution.

BECK: I know.

KENNEDY: And if you're going to save America — I mean, we at the Claremont institute believe that free government can be lost.

BECK: Oh, yes.

KENNEDY: In the great history of the world, countries like ours don't survive. And they'll need a core group of people who are devoted to the Constitution that will stand as a bulwark against progressives.

BECK: How excited, Brian, are you to see people — the media doesn't understand these tea parties or maybe they do and they're trying to — because it's progressive.

KENNEDY: Because they're scared of them.

BECK: Yes, yes. It's not about - it's not about really anything other than small government, reasonable spending, low taxes, and follow the Constitution. People in their gut, they know.


BECK: That must be exciting for somebody who has been watching this for 30 years.

KENNEDY: Absolutely. People know that government is supposed to do a few things and do them very well. Like national security, build roads, print money - those kinds of things.

BECK: Right.

KENNEDY: Government's not supposed to do these other things. But what we see government today trying to do absolutely everything when it comes to the economy and society at large. And we know it's not working.

BECK: Oh, I mean that's clear. I went to — I have one minute here — this California secretary of state Web site, "" where you can learn California history. It has content for teachers for their lesson plans.

Looked up progressivism. In it, it talks about how great progressivism is, "In the progressive movement lies the roots of a strong liberal tradition in California, a liberalism that would no doubt horrify some of the rather conservative progressives, at the same time, the hopes of the leftist progressives. They hoped that progressivism would be the first step in an evolutionary socialism.

"They may be a little disappointed, however. But the expanded activist government initiated by the progressives was a prerequisite for the welfare state, despite the fact that progressives concern themselves primarily with moral and political reform after the New Deal.” It talks about how it is altering already much of the Constitution. They succeeded in altering the political mindset for the state. This is all presented in a good way.

KENNEDY: Absolutely.

BECK: How do you possibly survive when your children are being taught that progressivism and changing the Constitution slowly like this, evolving it, is a good thing?

KENNEDY: Well, remember this - we're not going to be ever become like Europe, and the reason is simple. We're Americans. We have these tea parties. Look at your success. Look at the success of conservatives all over America.

When the American people hear the right argument, they do the right thing, whether it's the tea party or Massachusetts or New Jersey. And I have hope about California. You can win California back. And if you ever won California back for the conservative movement, you would change America.

BECK: Brian, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

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