Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Woodrow Wilson, the 2nd progressive President

One of the best history books I've ever read regarding the history of liberalism/progressivism is "Liberal Fascism," by Johah Goldberg. Regardless of your political stance, this is a must read, especially if you're like me and in a continuous hunt for facts.

Woodrow Wilson, Goldberg notes, believed that those who are elected to represent the people ought to have the will of the people on their side, and therefore should not be limited in their scope of practice, not even by the Constitution, if the will of the people is on their side.

In his earlier writings he proposed that Congress ought to have the most power, yet once he became President he decided the most power should be owned by the President, that it is up to the President to make sure the people get what they want.

He actually, at one point, championed for a parliamentary form of governance where there are "few checks and balances on government", such as what occurs in Europe, although this never gained acceptance.

Like many progressives, Wilson believed that the person with the most expertise should be in positions of power, and that person should be able to make the decisions they see that are best for the people.

The problem with this view, as perhaps Wilson did not envision, is that by the year 2010 the progressives believed the person with the most wisdom is the person who is the most progressive.

Hence, the democratic party of 2010 believes that John McCain is more fit to lead than Newt Gingrich not based on education alone (Gingrich is a history professor), but on the fact McCain is more progressive. And Harry Reid is a better leader on the grounds that he is more progressive than McCain.

Wilson's view of politics, Goldberg notes, should be viewed as "statolatry," or state worship. This is actually the vision of progressives (now called liberals), who believe the states, or the federal government, is better at solving social problems than individual states, businesses or people (as is the case with classical liberals, which are now your conservatives).

"From the outset, (Wilson) believed that the government and people should have an organic bond that reflected the 'true spirit' of the people, or what the Germans called the Volksgeist. 'Government is not a machine, but a living thing,' he wrote in Congressional Government. 'It falls not under (Newtonian) theory of the universe, but under the (Darwinian) theory of organic life.' From this perspective, the ever expanding power of the state was entirely natural. Wilson, along with the vast majority of progressive intellectuals, believed that the increase in state power was akin to an inevitable evolutionary process... Constitutional democracy, as the founders understood it, was a momentary phase in this progression. Now it was time
for the state to ascend to the next plateau. 'Government,' Wilson wrote in The State, 'does now whatever experience permits or the times demand.' Wilson was the first President to speak despairingly of the Constitution."
I added the bold here for emphasis. Wilson was the first President who decided that the Constitution was living, and needed to be adjusted as progressives saw fit, to fit the changing times.

Wilson, then, may have expected that by 2010 there would be many laws made by the Supreme Court (Rowe-Verses-Wade) that disrespected the Constitution and the 10th amendment that gives the States the right to decide what is not mentioned in the Constitution.

He also would have expected something like the Obama Health Care plan that would some day pass despite the Constitution not mentioning health care as a right, nor as something that the Federal Congress nor the President has a right to rule upon.

He was also one of the first to speak out against individual rights and in support of state rights, or the rights of elected officials to make laws they thought were for the benefit of "social reform." It is from this that we ended up with Senators being elected directly by the people. Of course this is something that is good, although some Senators are in power so long they become "elitists" and corrupt. In other words, they have such a long tenure they find a way so they never lose elections, and can pretty much do whatever they want. They, in essence, are above everyone else.

It is for this reason there has been a call in recent years for term limits. Progressives to this day are against term limits because they "want" the best elected officials to stay in power, hence Ted Kennedy and Senator Byrd, who were both in office for over 30 years.

Progressive calls for individual rights also is how Congress was able to pass the 13th amendment to raise taxes so the government could create social programs that benefited those who are underprivileged and pay no or few taxes. Thus, they are the first to create tax and spend policies that benefit the few at the expense of those who work.

Yet, Wilson noted, as did many progressives like Jane Adams, that the individual should "want to sacrifice some of what he or she makes to support the state," Adams noted. "We must demand that the individual shall be willing to lose the sense of personal achievement, and shall be content to realize his activity only in connection to the activity of the many."

Hence, this is where progressivism closes in on socialism, fascism, and even Marxism. More next Wednesday

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