Obama-esque progressivism the root of the problem


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On Tuesday, President Obama paid a visit to Osawatomie, Kan., and gave an economic speech at the high school. It was a picturesque American gathering — small town Midwest, red, white, and blue bunting lining the bleachers, an enthusiastic crowd whooping like spectators at a baseball game. All that was missing was apple pie, bald eagles, and Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly.

This was no ordinary economic speech, though. Oh, no. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" speech, which was also given in Osawatomie. The president wanted to pay tribute to that history and bring to light how the Trust Buster had all the answers.

I have a problem with this. Let's start with the obvious: Obama shouldn't make speeches in memory and support of a borderline socialist if he doesn't want to be called one by conservatives.

Wait, wasn't he a Republican? For a while, yes, but then he went on to found the Progressive Party in 1912. (On a side note, Roosevelt is John McCain's favorite president, which is why we would be just as bad off with him as we are with Obama. Newt Gingrich also claims to be a "Theodore Roosevelt Republican," but that's for another column.)

Progressivism is the root of many of the political problems we find ourselves in today. It's an ideology that infects both parties in our two-party system, and it's been hiding in the shadows until recently. It has slowly eaten away at our Constitution since its inception.

It's driving principle claims that the Constitution is outdated, and we must move past it to evolve into a big government utopia that guarantees the outcome of happiness rather than the pursuit of it. It's roots lie in the philosophies of Europe's Fabian socialists and Karl Marx, which have little to do with pie or baseball.

There are a few things within the original Progressive Party platform that are commendable, like eight-hour workdays and women's suffrage. The rest — a National Health Service, government-provided social insurance, federal minimum wage, direct election of senators, prohibition, an income tax — are downright destructive to the American capitalist-republic.

And that's precisely the goal. Progressives subscribe the socialist brand of a true democracy where the government redistributes wealth and mob-rule is the norm.

Roosevelt's speech speaks to the progressive philosophy directly.

"The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows."

His interpretation of equality of opportunity, collectivism, was not the same as our founders', individualism.

Our history has been defined by progressivism since it's founding. Roosevelt's successor, Woodrow Wilson, was a radical progressive. He signed into law the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act, various antitrust bills, and helped in the ratification of the 16th Amendment that instituted the income tax.

These profound changes laid the foundation for the New Deal. The notion of social insurance was established with the Social Security Act, forcing Americans to participate in a savings program. The Works Progress Administration provided menial jobs for unskilled workers and redistributed food and clothing. The Federal Reserve was given sweeping power over the banking and monetary systems.

This continued with Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the War on Poverty. Medicare and Medicaid were created in this effort, along with funding for the arts, humanities, and public broadcasting.

The programs and legislation created by the progressive movement are what have created the nightmare that is our federal government. We're trillions in debt because we've given the European system a test drive, and we're sputtering because we gassed up our Government Motors (GM) SUV with the wrong octane.

Adding more of the progressive ideology isn't going to work. We need to syphon the gas tank and refill it with something with a lower octane level: fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally limited government, and free markets.

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