The History of American Progressivism

Hope and change: It was the movement that surged Barack Obama into the White House, but it's not the first time America has seen this sort of political uprising. There was hope and change way back in the early 20th Century, but it went by a different name: progressivism.

It was the shiny new car and everyone wanted to take it for a spin. Progressivism had no political boundaries. Democrats like Woodrow Wilson loved it. Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt loved it. America was stuck in a rut; how better to break free than with "progress"?

The message resonated with Americans and so progressives began winning elections. And then they started governing.

In response to repeated bank runs in the early 1900s, progressives created the Federal Reserve System. This flew right in the face of Thomas Jefferson, who argued that the "Bank of the United States… is one of the most deadly hostility existing, against the principles and form of our Constitution."

It didn't take long to prove Jefferson right, as the worst financial disaster in U.S. history happened largely because of the Fed's continual contraction of the money supply before and during the Great Depression. Progressives redistributed the wealth by implementing a "progressive" income tax sold to America as something that would lower tariffs and be a tax on the wealthy. Woodrow Wilson led passage of the Revenue Act in 1913. The rates only lasted four years, then all Americans had their taxes jacked up and they haven't come down since. The bottom tax bracket hasn't paid single digit percentages in taxes in over 60 years.

They introduced the first nanny state efforts in 1919 with Prohibition. They convinced the nation to ban a drink.

Then, the final straw: The president of peace, just a few months after narrowly winning re-election, entered America into World War I. It was billed as the war to end all wars — because progressives thought they had the solution to world conflict — and brought us the League of Nations. Another failure.

Americans had had enough. Progressives had to go underground, but they've never left us. They are patient. They have a plan. And while the country has been asleep, we've been co-opted. And now, there are more than 80 members of the Progressive Caucus. Of the 20 standing committees in the House, 11 are chaired by members of the Progressive Caucus.

Oh, and of course there is the president. If you think he is a Democrat think again:


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SEPT. 9, 2009: To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage available for those without it.


The public option — the public option is only a means to that end. And we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.


And just in case you're still not convinced:


OBAMA, JAN. 17: You will carry on the best progressive forward-looking values of this proud commonwealth.

OBAMA, SEPT. 22, 2008: Change has always come from places like Wisconsin, the state where the progressive movement was born.

OBAMA, FEB. 12, 2008: Where better to affirm our ideals than here in Wisconsin, where a century ago, the progressive movement was born.


Notice anyone missing? Oh yeah, Democrats!

For 100 years progressives have been using both parties as host, and have been feeding on the republic.

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