Understanding what Democratic Progressivism is Leading to in America

Thesis No. One:
The United States of America was established to be a Republic of Virtue, by which is meant that the government was intended to be small, efficient and limited in scope. Much of the idealism of the government came from the philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment. The Constitution of the United States is remarkably short and concise, in keeping with the objectives of the government.
Under a republican form of government it proposed election of virtuous people who would serve as citizen legislators, the exact opposite of professionals who would overthink the limited boundaries of the Constitution. Its theories were based of the ideas of John Locke in Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689. This document explicated that rights of the people were established prior to the people’s establishment of government, and that governments were formed to protect the liberties of the people in exchange for the government’s limited powers of creating law and order among the people.

Thesis No. Two:
The government of the United States is a limited government, confined by the powers granted to it and defined in the Constitution of the United States in Article I, Section 8, and no others. Furthermore, various other Articles and Sections of the Constitution expressly prohibit other powers being exercised by the government of the United States or by the States.

Thesis No. Three:
All powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Thus, the powers of the United States are fixed and limited in scope unless changed by proper amendment of the Constitution by means of Article V. Remarkably, breaches of the Constitution by Congress occurred during the presidencies of only four: Roosevelt, Wilson, Roosevelt and Johnson, all progressives.

Thesis No. Four:
The legislative branch of the federal government consists of two Houses, each being the judge of the Elections, Returns and qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do business. Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and with the Concurrence of two thirds expel a member.

Thesis No. Five:
Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution of the United States uses the word “democracy,” and with the exception of requiring that a majority of members shall constitute a quorum to do business, no other requirements are stated.

Thesis No. Six:
The word “democracy” has only recently become a means of expressing the form of the United States’ government, in preference to the word “republic” previously. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, a number of its former states have formed social democracies as the form of their governments, and seldom as republics. Thereafter, a number of the social democrat governments have become democratically totalitarian in nature. Their legislators have granted authoritarian powers to a head of government – the “totalitarian” part, and all in accordance with due process – and still within their constitutions. It appears there are two main variants to the word “democracy.” If democracy means simply majority-rule voting, nothing stands in the way of the majority to vote away freedom or set up dictators, as happened among a number of the social democracies. If democracy is understood to be a form of government that is accountable to its citizens, then the citizens may cause its government to retain their liberties.

Thesis No. Seven:
In contrast to the Scottish Enlightenment whose major figures were Locke, Smith, Hume, et al the European Enlightenment whose major figures were Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, et al produced two different ideals for government. The Scottish Enlightenment established freedom for the people and governments that would protect the freedoms of the people. Freedom is the right of individuals to do as they please as long as not interfering with the equal rights of other persons. The European Enlightenment established society, not its individuals, as the beneficiary of all the people’s rights by majority approval. The following quotation by Rousseau makes it clear there is a difference between social democracy and American freedom.

“The citizen gives his consent to all the laws, including those which are passed in spite of his (Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s) opposition, and even those which punish him when he dares break any of them….When in the popular assembly a law is proposed, what the people is asked is not exactly whether it approves or rejects the proposal, but whether it is in conformity with the general will, which is their will. When therefore the opinion that is contrary to my own prevails, this proves neither more nor less than that I was mistaken, and what I thought to be the general will was not so.” ([1762] 1973, book IV, chap. 1, no.2, Translated from French).

Thesis No. Eight:
Rousseau’s vision of democracy has been reinforced in the twentieth century and thereafter in the ideology of European Social Democracy in which society is the judge of the will of the people, and it is made known by the general will of a democratic majority of the body politic. In America Progressive ideology justifies imposing costs on some for the benefit of others, and the ideology of democracy says that this expresses the will of the people, and the legislation is approved. Democracy and freedom have become incompatible, an arrangement that economist Milton Friedman foresaw.

Thesis No. Nine:
Freedom is the ability of each individual to choose for themselves rather than having another make a choice for them. Redistributive policies are at the heart of progressivism because they are at the heart of reelection to government office. Redistribution is coercion of both the person from whom the transfer is taken and those receiving the transfer. Their choices are laid aside. The only distinction from a Social Democrat dictator is that the law is enacted by collective decision rather than an individual dictator. This outcome is not merely a threat to freedom, but is outside the scope of the Constitution.

Thesis No. Ten:
All but the most informed voters or those who have a special interest in an election have little invested in its outcome. The rest of the voting population, about 70% of all registered voters know only that their vote is not determinative. When people know their vote is not decisive, they vote differently from when they have to be deciding vote. The truth is most electors know only that their vote is not decisive, so patriotism, or voting against a candidate by choosing their opponent might be the determinative factors, among myriad others. Since there is no feedback to the elector for his action, the action becomes meaningless. Bryan Caplan (2007) lays to rest any interest on the part of elector to his decision Most of what can be scientifically determined from polling is why identity politics is what most often determines election results; and so much for any pretense about the meaning of democracy.

Publiustoo.com May 13, 2021