PROGRESSIVES: A Proud Tradition
…and as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. quotation inscribed on the IRS building says,
Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society
Establishment of a “civilized society” is the rationale for government in the first place. The signers of the Declaration of Independence set out to establish a new form of government for the “protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
To this end, the framers of our constitution enumerated the proper fiscal functions of government as “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States“. Taxes are simply the preferred method for paying for these governmental functions, the other methods being the issuance of public debt and the issuance of money.
Thanks to Obama’s Progressive Recovery Plan, 60% of Americans won’t have taxes to pay, with many receiving tax credit refunds. Aside from which, though you wouldn’t know it to hear repugnicans talk, the federal government’s take from the national income is at its lowest since 1950!
American society is the result of more than 200 years of progressive thought, political leadership, and social movements.
Conservative pundits like Glenn Beck and Jonah Goldberg have sought to re-write this history of progressivism, freakishly claiming the Nazis were progressive thinkers and the modern American left has its roots in fascism. Umm… anyone with a decent education knows that today’s republican party is closer to the statist-corporatist efforts of fascist Nazism (a regime in total opposition to socialism and communism).
Progressivism, at its core, though, is grounded in the idea of moving beyond the status quo to more Equal and Just social conditions consistent with original American democratic principles such as Freedom, Equality, and the Common Good — a term and concept erased from the conservative lexicon.
American progressivism over the past two centuries has been the only movement advancing this nation forward into a viable modern nation — represented by everything from the ♦ philosophical tracts of John Dewey and the ♦ rise of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition, to the ♦ mass movement that won civil rights for African Americans and ♦ seeks it now for the homosexual citizen minority.
Studying Liberalism and Progressivism provide an invaluable historical perspective for Americans who seek to learn from the past so that they may continue the long progressive tradition of fighting to expand justice and opportunity for all.
Beginning in the early twentieth century, reformist intellectuals, concerned with the increased concentration of wealth, unsafe working conditions, political corruption, and the misuse of natural resources, laid out the philosophical basis for tangible reforms.
Progressives reformed the political system by ♦ expanding suffrage and ♦ instituting direct senatorial and primary elections.
To the economy they brought ♦ the graduated income tax, ♦ the right to organize, ♦ unemployment insurance, and ♦ food and drug safety laws.
Reformers then demanded “that Americans consider whether the consequences of their economic and political institutions were consistent with American notions of equal treatment and justice.”
Progressive thinkers went on to denounce the “static, conservative interpretation of the Constitution…as retrograde and insufficient for the modern age,” preferring to look at the document instead as a vehicle for the “realization of democracy” that would allow for progressive reforms. This view was adopted by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who, in his famous essay “The Living Law,” argued that the meaning of the Constitution had shifted as our democracy “deepened.” Brandeis wrote that courts could not be “deaf and blind” to “newly arisen social needs” and laid out the legal basis for an expansive welfare state.
The notion of unbending literalism in interpreting the Constitution (a stultifying concept kept alive by the Right Wingnuts) is anathema to progressive intellectuals just as it was in 1816 when Thomas Jefferson said, “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.”
Altogether, Progressivism “paved the way toward the mid-century “Mixed Economy” that lifted living standards for millions of people, reduced poverty and inequality, and helped to create the vast American middle class.”