Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Question: Why do progressives in the U.S. move to implement most of their social programs at the federal level? Why not leave the decisions surrounding the implementation of such programs to the states (and their voters)?

 Because the federal level is where all the power is. If you can get Congress to create new federal law, it becomes enforceable over all 50 states. If you move one state at a time it takes much longer, and there will always be states who are opposed to specific social programs and cannot be won over.

There was a movement by Progressives in the 1990s to operate more at the local level. This effort came about because the Supreme Court and Congress were becoming more reluctant to support expanding the welfare state. These local efforts were called “civil society” programs and they combined entrepreneurship, volunteerism, and civic mindedness to achieve their goals.

Remember the great historical tug of war between Progressives and Conservatives has been based on defining the government’s role with respect to group rights versus individual rights. Progressives look at society as a set of groups. Some of these groups are disadvantaged and need to be helped by government. Conservatives are more concerned with liberty, meaning the individual’s ability to live his life independently without the government controlling him.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Question: What were the limits of the progressive movement?

There were two factors that placed limits on the Progressive Movement. First, Conservatives resisted the efforts of the Progressives, based on their disruption of the status quo. Republican presidents supported small government and would not support welfare state building. The lone exception to this was Theodore Roosevelt who was a Progressive himself.
The second factor was the law of diminishing returns. When the Progressive Movement began in the late 19th century, the people of the United States were being crushed by political corruption and corporate exploitation. Because these problems were so wide-spread, there was a tremendous force of will for change expressed by the American people. Once the government regulation of business was put in place and the political corruption cleaned up, momentum for change was weakened.
The Great Recession of the 1930s greatly expanded Progressive action as government expanded to try and bring the American economy back to normal. During that time, Social Security and other programs became part of the American entitlement fabric.
After World War II, the Progressives broke with the Democratic Party over foreign policy because they could not accept a cold war strategy. They tried to succeed on their own, but became marginalized by a growing Liberal establishment. It wasn’t until the advent of the New Left in the 1960s that the Progressives were able to reestablish themselves as a movement.
One characteristic of the Progressive ideology is utopianism. Progressives seek equality for all, in individual rights and economic standing. They dislike capitalism as exploitative and unfair.
Progressives would have been happy to see socialism or communism succeed because those models represented their view of how society should operate. But, both failed in practice because they are incompatible with individual rights and enormously inefficient. As an alternative, Progressives have put their efforts toward building a welfare state within the Capitalist Democracy.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Question: What is something about Republicans that is commonly misunderstood by liberals?

I’d say the number one factor is the Liberal belief that Republicans are selfish, uncaring capitalists who don’t mind seeing people starve. Republicans tend to ignore that accusation and don't typically demonstrate compassion or caring.

Republicans differ from Liberals because their moral point of view is different. Not better or worse, just different. Liberals look at welfare as essential to protect disadvantaged groups, and don’t worry about the cost to deliver the services they need. Republicans worry about value and effort. They are willing to support the disadvantaged if the programs designed to help them are efficient and don't waste money.