The space between the individual and the state

Rep. Paul Ryan (R, Wisconsin), in his new book entitled The Way Forward, discusses “the space between the individual and the state” and says that Progressives keep wanting to fill that space with the government. [Read more...]

Big corporations & big government

Progressives are outraged at the power over the government wielded by big corporations.  But, in a comment made in a column on a different subject, George Will observes that the big corporations wouldn’t have the power they do if it weren’t for the existence of big government, a creation primarily of progressives. [Read more...]

Calls for an American dictator

George Will notes progressivism’s impatience–”We can’t wait!” in the words of President Obama’s campaign–which manifests itself in an impatience with constitutional checks and balances and a willingness to get around them.

His column, which I also posted about yesterday, includes some interesting quotations from journalists during the depression of the 1930s who were actually calling for a dictatorship:

Commonweal, a magazine for liberal Catholics, said that Roosevelt should have “the powers of a virtual dictatorship to reorganize the government.” Walter Lippmann, then America’s preeminent columnist, said: “A mild species of dictatorship will help us over the roughest spots in the road ahead.” The New York Daily News, then the nation’s largest-circulation newspaper, cheerfully editorialized: “A lot of us have been asking for a dictator. Now we have one. . . . It is Roosevelt. . . . Dictatorship in crises was ancient Rome’s best era.” The New York Herald Tribune titled an editorial “For Dictatorship if Necessary.”

via Obama follows the progressive president’s model of martial language – The Washington Post.

As we face our national problems, economic and otherwise, we must take care not to jettison our liberties in a panicked  desire for the government to “do something.”

The evangelical who made Democrats liberal

Scott Farris has a feature in the Washington Post about how those who lost presidential campaigns often had big and long-lasting effects on their parties and on the nation.  Barry Goldwater and George McGovern would be the obvious examples.  But the most powerful influence, according to Farris, was that of evangelical Christian best known today for battling Darwinism in the Scopes trial:

But the greatest transformation probably occurred in 1896, when William Jennings Bryan, 36, became the youngest man ever nominated for president.

Throughout the 19th century, the Democrats had been the conservative, small-government party. In a single election, in which he campaigned with “an excitement that was almost too intense for life,” as a contemporary reporter wrote, Bryan remade the Democratic Party into the progressive, populist group it remains today.

The 1896 campaign was an extraordinary struggle. Every major newspaper, even traditionally Democratic ones, endorsed Bryan’s opponent, William McKinley. Even Democratic President Grover Cleveland urged supporters to work for McKinley’s election, not Bryan’s. The Republicans significantly outspent Bryan, but he countered with a matchless energy, personally addressing 5 million people over the course of the campaign. Instead of being buried in a landslide, he won 47 percent of the popular vote and carried 22 of the 45 states.

Bryan, who saw religion as a force for progressive reform, is sometimes portrayed as a simpleton, even a reactionary, because of his crusade against the teaching of evolution as fact. Yet in many ways he was far ahead of his time. In 1896 and in his subsequent presidential campaigns in 1900 and 1908, he advocated for women’s suffrage, creation of the Federal Reserve and implementation of a progressive income tax, to name a few reforms. When Franklin Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, Herbert Hoover sniffed that it was just Bryanism by another name.

via The most important losers in American politics – The Washington Post.

This reminds us of a time when the conservative Christians we now call evangelicals tended to be politically liberal.  How do you account for that?  Can it be that applying the Bible to politics can cut both ways?

I would like you liberal readers to pay tribute to William Jennings Bryan.  You tend to say today that religion should be kept out of politics.  But don’t you appreciate how “Bryanism” gave us the New Deal and changed the Democratic party from the conservative small-government party to the progressive and big-government party it is today?

I would like you conservative readers to criticize William Jennings Bryan.  Don’t you think he should have kept his religion out of politics?  Are there elements of “Bryanism” in the Christian right today?

The left’s case against Obama

Many liberals are turning on President Obama’s administration and the Democratic-held congress. From the Associated Press:

Progressive activists who helped elect Barack Obama president complained on Monday that the administration and congressional Democrats have been too timid and too willing to compromise.

Even though Obama’s major first-term achievement — an overhaul of the nation’s health care system — passed without a single Republican vote, progressive leaders who gathered in Washington criticized the president for failing to create a government-run insurance option to compete with private industry.

They faulted Obama for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the slow pace in repealing the ban on gays serving in the military and last year’s economic stimulus package, which they described as inadequate at $787 billion. They also criticized his handling of the Gulf oil spill.

“The White House has been an uncertain trumpet,” said Robert Borosage, a co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, a progressive organization. “The administration’s reforms were too often too timid from the start and too readily compromised along the way.”

Although leaders still spoke with admiration for Obama, it was clear he’s not as popular with unions, bloggers and other progressives.

Democrats already face an angry electorate this November. The frustration among the party’s liberal base could make the midterm elections even more difficult for Democrats and Obama’s own re-election bid.

Does this make President Obama a moderate? Still way too liberal for conservatives, but in the current polarized political scene occupying the middle ground?


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