As Conservatives, we all know and revere the preamble to the Founders’ Declaration of Independence, perhaps the greatest political statement in the history of mankind, attributed to Thomas Jefferson:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed –
These self-evident truths lie at the core of our Constitution and Conservatism. They are what mathematicians and philosophers call axiomatic. In other words, they are acknowledged to be unprovable, but they are presumed and accepted as true (hence “self-evident”), and they are the starting point for whatever follows — in this case, the remainder of the Declaration and later the Constitution itself.
If these are the self-evident truths of Conservatism, what are the self-evident truths of Progressivism? I’ve never seen them offered up or written down in concise Jeffersonian style. Perhaps there are bits and pieces available in the writings of Karl Marx. Perhaps from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs is an example of a Progressive* self-evident truth. Perhaps some of our Progressive readers can enlighten us(?).
In the absence of guidance from Progressives themselves, we are left to infer the self-evident truths of Progressivism by working backwards from observations of their statements and behaviors. That’s what I try to do in this article.
Of course, we’re not entirely without clues. For example, Progressives like Barack Obama have told us that the Constitution is fundamentally flawed because it focuses too much on what the government cannot do to us and not enough about what the government must do for us. As Obama has put it:
… the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.
This is a helpful clarification. For over 100 years, Progressives in America have been marching to the same drummer’s beat that Obama hears. From Obama’s statement and my amateur observations of Progressive behaviors for several decades, I offer up the following to Progressives and Conservatives alike for their comment:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident:
- That all people are created equal,
- That they are endowed by The State with certain inalienable rights,
- That among these are Liberty, Equality, and Social Justice,
- That Equality includes life-long human rights to food, shelter, clothing, education, and health care,
- That to pursue Equality, The State may confiscate wealth from those who have it and redistribute it among those who don’t,
- That to pursue Social Justice, The State may constrain Liberty and Equality for some groups as reparations for past injustices suffered by other groups.
What follows are my notes on how I chose these six explicit clauses to represent the self-evident truths of Progressivism:
In this clause, “all people are created equal” is used to avoid the allegedly sexist “all men are created equal” in the Founders’ Declaration. A lesser point perhaps, but I’m trying to think as a Progressive would, right from the get-go, and then stay “in character” for the discussion of the remaining five clauses.
In this clause, the phrase “The State” takes the place of the word “Creator” in the Founders’ Declaration. All mention of God or a Creator is expunged in the Progressive Declaration, thereby avoiding any dual loyalties or competition with The State. Religion is not explicitly forbidden, but neither is it mentioned or encouraged. It may be tolerated so long as The State feels unthreatened by it, but The State is always the final arbiter in these matters.
In a Progressive’s world, Clause 2 has significant advantages. For example, the current conflict over Government-mandated contraceptive coverage in employer-provided health care would be instantly resolved in favor of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the aggrieved party named Sandra Fluke. Similarly, all the long-running controversies over religious displays on government-owned property would be resolved quite simply — The State’s word would be the final.
Most importantly, since all fundamental rights are endowed by The State, they can be limited or withdrawn by The State. This becomes important in Clause 6.
The Founders’ Declaration lists Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness as inalienable rights. In the Progressive Declaration, “Life” does not appear at all. This is another convenience for The State since abortion rights would be much easier to declare and maintain if Life were not an unalienable right. Thus, it would no longer matter whether a fetus does or does not constitute “life”. The State decides. Simple, no? In fact, if The State were to allow it, abortion rights might even extend to infanticide in the first 30 days of baby’s life, as proposed by some, or up to 2 years as proposed by another. End-of-life decisions or euthanasia for the elderly or handicapped would also be much easier for The State control. Do you see the pattern?
Similarly, “pursuit of Happiness” in the Founders’ Declaration is replaced by “Social Justice”. By including this phrase in the Progressive Declaration, the grand utopian Social Justice vision of Progressive luminaries like the self-avowed communist Van Jones is explicitly elevated to an unalienable right. And what could be “happier” than that?
When I wrote this clause, I was motivated in part by an email I received a few months ago from a self-declared Democrat/Socialist. In it, he asked: “What is the purpose of government if not to ensure that everyone has a decent standard of living?” I’ve seldom heard the Progressive cause put so plainly and clearly.
Of course the constitutions of the European Union and South Africa already explicitly list “human rights” similar to those in Clause 4. So by including that clause in the Progressive Declaration, the path is paved for modernization or outright replacement of our own Constitution, as implied by Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during her recent interview in Egypt.
Of course, there is one big problem with Clause 4 — how do we achieve it? Enter Clause 5.
Clause 5 explicitly lists a principle that Progressives have implicitly followed since the beginning of the movement — that is, to achieve Clause 4, confiscate wealth from the makers and give it to the takers.
By following this principle, ostensibly out of “compassion” and “fairness”, Progressives can win the support of the takers until there are so many of them that they can out-vote, out-shout, or out-threaten the makers. As the takers demand more and more, the makers produce less and less as they lose incentive to create new wealth only to see it confiscated. Eventually some of them go on a de facto “strike” as the industrialists did in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Soon thereafter, Progressives run out of other people’s money and resources.
There follows some combination of civil unrest, rationing, martial law, starvation, tyranny, and virtual slavery to The State. It has happened many times in many places. WesternFreePress.com recently interviewed three direct eye witnesses (here, here, and here). Yet Progressives keep trying despite all evidence that their beloved principles simply don’t work.
In particular, in our own time, no doubt borne of compassion and fairness, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on US debt now consume all of our federal tax revenue, and our government is frantically borrowing over $4.7 billion per day to make up the shortfall for those expenses plus everything else.
Our plight is getting worse faster and faster as over 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. And there is no way to tax or confiscate enough wealth to resolve the situation for long. This brutal truth is shown clearly by Bill Whittle, with his usual wry humor, at this link. Nonetheless, Progressives keep plodding along, demonizing “the rich” as the source of, as well as the solution to, our gargantuan economic woes.
Clause 5 appeals so much to base human emotions that Progressive politicians like Barack Obama exploit it to their political advantage through class-envy initiatives like the “Buffett Rule“, and “Fair Share“. Unlike a precious few stalwarts in Congress, Obama simply refuses to confront the accounting arithmetic that is staring him in the face. He and his party perpetuate the myth that taxing the rich “just a little more” will solve the problem. And the media never call him on it. And the beat goes on.
Clause 6 explicitly permits violation of Clauses 1 and 3 in some politically motivated circumstances in order to achieve a State-controlled version of Equality. Some current examples of Clause 6 in operation are Democrat tolerance for voter fraud, government-mandated purchase of health insurance, and Eric Holder’s infamous race-based pursuit of justice.
There it is then, a Progressive Declaration of Self-Evident Truths. But this is just a first draft. What do you think? Have I got it wrong? Have I left something out? You can enter your comments below.
Even though Progressivism has failed dismally from its very earliest days in America, it is now making a comeback thanks to the Democrat Party, hijacked by the Left after John F. Kennedy died. It will soon swamp all of us — unless, that is, we can stop them on November 6 and begin a restoration and renewal of the principles in our original Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
In the words of Shane F. Krauser, JD,
The Constitution is the not the problem.
It is emphatically the answer.
* Footnote: I use the term “Progressive” in this article to represent the broad mass of political thought that has variously been called Progressive / Liberal / Leftist / Socialist / Collectivist / Statist / Redistributionist / Communist or some other name. These are not all synonymous I know, and as usual, some readers will prefer to pick at the definitions of these terms rather than address the main point of this article. Suffice it to say I use “Progressive” because “Liberal” has fallen out of favor with the Left, and “Progressive” now seems to be the most broadly accepted term for those on the Left side of the political spectrum.
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