Obama’s Presidency and the Pathologies of Progressivism


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Next is the big lie that progressives are all about human freedom. What they have promoted is more accurately called license: the selfish freedom to do whatever you want no matter the cost, which then must be picked up by the taxpayer. Hence the elevation of abortion into the most important sacrament in the progressive church. Sexual pleasure and license can now appear to be “cost free” because no matter how careless or stupid people are, the consequences of their bad choices can be eliminated or mitigated on somebody else’s nickel. Progressive freedom is all about the freedom to indulge selfish appetites without the restraints of virtue, shame, guilt, or morality––unless, of course, one desires to better oneself economically without the state meddling in your business and filching your earnings. Then we will hear fire-and-brimstone sermons about the “greed” of the “selfish” redolent of Cotton Mather.

Genuine political freedom, on the other hand, the freedom to run our lives and the state according to high principles that seek to make us better human beings worthy of freedom, always entails the need for personal responsibility and accountability, and the acceptance of risk and failure. But these are all anathema to the progressive, who wants the state to take responsibility for our actions, insulate us from the consequences of our bad choices, and compensate for our loss of true freedom by distracting us with the license to gratify our appetites. But as political philosophers from Plato to Tocqueville have pointed out, this “soft despotism” ends up empowering the state and “enlightened” elites, and thus puts at risk our political freedom and autonomy.

Finally, the arch-virtue of the progressive, tolerance, is in fact the rankest intolerance. We should tolerate pornography and vulgarity in the public square, but stamp out religious speech or criminalize conservative criticism as “hate speech.” We should understand and sympathize with the terrorist and not rush to judge him, but reflexively condemn and hound those who try to stop him. We should seek out and promote diverse points of view, but censor or silence those of “conservatives” and other ideological reprobates. We should show “civility” in our political discourse, but savage with relish political enemies. We should admire and privilege non-Western religions, but attack Christianity and Judaism as oppressive superstitions. We should praise and promote all lifestyles no matter how distasteful or sordid, yet ridicule traditional mores and virtues. We should root out racism, sexism, and homophobia, but make an exception for minorities, feminists, and Muslims.

Failed economic theory, illiberal racial policies, elitist snobbery, political freedom reduced to selfish license, and intolerance of disagreement and dissent––these are some of the pathologies of progressivism that have been illustrated every day of Obama’s presidency. It will take November’s election to show whether a critical mass of Americans has finally had their fill of this rancid progressive wine, or whether it returns once again in a new bottle.

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  • StephenD

    This is an excellent post Mr. Thornton. I fear most Americans won't understand what is right in front of our eyes. IT has always been this way for the elite. Of course, all that they do or will do is "for our own good." They know better and will lead us into a better life by dictate. Before long we will have become subjects rather than citizens. I fear this will be done of our own volition. If a Progressive emerges victorious it will be by Acclamation and not Proclamation, and THAT shame will be on us.

  • Mach1Duck

    This all goes back to the Council For Reform (CFR) dating back to 1910 when a group of monied men decided to dictate banking global banking policies. This has spread from the banking to the political arena ensuring continuation of the CFR. I will leave it to the reader to determine for themselves who benefits from the progressive movement.

  • Victoria DeLacy

    Something else the Obama Occupancy (can't call it Presidency for failure to comply with Constitutional requirements – ie. where's the VALID birth ceritificate?) has done on the positive side – it has grown the Republican party nationwide faster and more greatly than could have been accomplished through any of our typical membership drives!

    • Sage on the Stage

      Substitute "Tea Party" for Republican party, and your comment will be better.

      • Amused

        so much so , the Republican Party need tyo be renamed ….lol…bye bye Elephant ….hello Tea Bag !!

    • Maxie

      Unfortunately the GOP remains schizoid and therefore politically impotent. Party 'leadership' and the RNC are all RINO's and walk both sides of the political street. Conservatives are in the minority and are leashed by the wimp RINO's. http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/05/gop_what_g

  • Johncdavidson

    The progressive movement is just a series of contradictions put forth by a group of people whose self-interests take precedence.

    • Amused

      gee , sounds like the Republican /Conservative parties …lol…..self interests indeed .

      • Johncdavidson

        Good explanation that reveals your mental capacity. Ha, ha, ha. wasting money is hilarious.

  • ealha3

    Thornton presents an eloquent, inciteful and cogent review of a complex, mostly concealed agenda of the progressive that, only lately is being revealed by their multiple frontal defenses to what is being disclosed as their blatenly corrupt, self interest politicaly motivated actions. "Critical mass" of those who prioritize their current entitlements over this country's longer term survival will likely determine the election – not the economy, the debt, or any other otherwise relevant political issue. This is the abyss from which Europe now seeks to extricate itself. It is now the abyss we must struggle to avoid.

  • tagalog

    It's interested me for a long time to know that progressivism is grounded in the view that humankind is making progress toward greater and greater perfection. The history of humankind doesn't convincingly demonstrate that; it's much more plausible that each generation tends to make the same mistakes as the one before. Yet the progressivists continue to believe what they believe. Furthermore, they seem during the past century and a half, since the rise of Marxism and socialism to have adopted the additional idea that some enlightened vanguard, a la Plato's Guardians and Philosopher Kings, can somehow lead the rest of us into Eden. History tells that that is also a will-o'-the-wisp.

    • Amused

      Thay's right man , as we all know EDEN is REPOCON ideology in our churches , schools ,Universities and the goals of any politician and/or President . Not to mention TV , News Media , library books , school books , economic policies and taxation . Anyone who disagrees is a TRAITOR . .Yup the " Perfect Republic ":

      • tagalog

        Obviously, once again you are not Amused.

  • clarespark

    I wouldn't call progressivism scientific nor is it part of the Enlightenment. Its progenitors were only interested in stopping the red specter. I wrote about their pseudo-science here: http://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-en…. What progressive social psychologists wanted was social cohesion. They wiped out the very concept of the individual. Title: "switching the Enlightenment: corporatist liberalism and the revision of American history."

    • Sage on the Stage

      What is your opinion of Woodrow Wilson?

      • clarespark

        I wrote quite a lot about him here: http://clarespark.com/2008/05/03/margoth-vs-rober…. "Margoth [a character in a Melville poem] v. Robert E. Lee." His racism is well known. Originally very conservative he ran on a platform that co-opted populist demands.

  • L8gr8usa

    Telling it exactly like it is! Progressives have already reached critical mass to claim the November election to be void due to all the disenfranchised voters and will not concede the White House if they lose. The elections will be declared “unfair” and backed by the courts. Everything and everyone is already in place in positions throughout the government. What would prevent this from happening? They are so bold they don’t try to hide their brazen collusion.

    And we will take it sitting down, angry and shouting at our radios and tv’s. We/I don’t have the will to sacrifice our lifestyles and comforts to take action.

  • Western Spirit

    progressives use smart as a part of their agenda, as in obama and clinton are brillant while bush and reagan are dunces. and since people want to be thought to be smart to feel hubris and superior to conservatives, it works.

    to paraphrase forest gump smart is as smart does and what progressives promote as smart is dumb.

  • Maxie

    It's past time for conservatives to acknowledge that Leftism is a faith-based pathology, i.e; it's a secular religion in the sense of "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." In other words it's irrational as in "not governed by, or according to, reason."

    The sooner this is understood by everyone the sooner the world can be rid of this deadly inquisition.

  • Spider

    This is one of the best reads I have ever seen on Frontpage Mag. My hat is off to you Mr. Thornton! Thank you for your brilliant analysis. I would love to see a leftist stutter and stammer attempting to rebuke the tenets of this magnificent piece…

  • Sensible SImon

    I am puzzled by your response. I am not sure I understood there was anything to refute here. The entire article is devoid of facts or any reasoned argument. It looks like simply one large straw man argument and I think most people would agree. If you are not familiar with the straw man argument, Wikipedia offers a good working definition:
    "A straw man is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position."

    They give a good example that relates to this article:

    Person A: We should liberalize the laws on beer.
    Person B: No, any society with unrestricted access to intoxicants loses its work ethic and goes only for immediate gratification.

    The proposal was to relax laws on beer. Person B has exaggerated this to a position harder to defend, i.e., "unrestricted access to intoxicants". It is a logical fallacy because Person A never made that claim.

    It seems to me most of the article is of this kind. The argument example about beer example being very close to the assertions Thornton makes about "license" for example.

    Before anyone gets excited I am not a leftist, I simply can't abide nonsense from either side (plenty to go around).

  • Ronald Johnston

    osama obama and all his marxist helpers = pure evil!!!!