Skip to comments.Paul Ryan, Theodore Roosevelt on Progressivism in Wisconsin
Posted on 08/13/2012 11:21:14 AM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
In April 2010, Glenn Beck interviewed Paul Ryan. Ryan is someone who from what I've heard, understands correctly the history of progressivism because he lives in Wisconsin, and as he says he grew up seeing the dangers of it. Wisconsin(as many people have come to know) is the birthplace for Progressivism proper. Here are a couple of great quotes from him:
PAUL RYAN: So people can actually see what this ideology means and where its going to lead us and how it attacks the American idea.
PAUL RYAN: this(progressivism) is really a cancer because it basically takes the notion that our rights come from God and nature and turns it on its head and says, no, no, no, no, no, they come from government, and we here in government are here to give you your rights and therefore ration, redistribute and regulate your rights. Its a complete affront of the whole idea of this country and that is to me what we as conservatives, or classical liberals if you want to get technical ought to be doing to flush this out.
PAUL RYAN: Where we raise our family, 35 miles from Madison. I grew up hearing about this stuff. This stuff came from these German intellectuals to Madison‑University of Wisconsin and sort of out there from the beginning of the last century.
PAUL RYAN: Look, I grew up in the orbit of Madison, Wisconsin. I know who these people are, I know what they think
But wheras Ryan calls it out for the cancer that it is, Roosevelt held up Wisconsin and it's progressive movement as the ideal movement.
It is fair to say that Paul Ryan has a whole century of progressivism to look back on, wheras Roosevelt stood at the beginning and didn't see the destruction that lies in the path, it's also fair to say that progressive ideals really are not all that new. Centralized planning has gone on for a very long time(centuries), and just because these guys had a new way to do it, that's no excuse. It's still a big State telling everybody what to do, intervening in all aspects of people's lives. And it's important to note that make no mistake, Theodore Roosevelt was rejecting many of the things that made America great. In the article he says:
We, who boast that we represent the freest people on the face of the earth, that our Nation is the home of popular rights and equal rights, and of justice as between man and man, when we try to translate our words into deeds, have to go to Australia for our ballot, and have to study what is done in England or Germany for the protection of wage workers (and, having studied them and tried to follow the example set us, are then obliged to see some State court, still steeped in the political philosophy of the eighteenth century, solemnly declare that America, alone among civilized nations, is incompetent to right industrial wrongs).
I've seen this kind of contempt before. "Eighteenth century" was a way for progressives to openly declare their contempt for that old "individualistic" America, as John Dewey makes abundantly clear. They would also say "nineteenth century", as a lot of those ideals carried forward past the Founding. That's exactly what Ryan talked about. Once government takes over, it tries taking over everything. There's no way to keep that kind of separation.
But moreso, looking toward Europe and elsewhere is exactly what progressives do to this day that aggravates us so much, it's the source for so many of our problems. Now does this really sound to you like someone who truely loves America? You hear that from time to time about Roosevelt. In what way did he love America? How about American liberty, and constitutionally limited government? If these things were said by anybody else, it wouldn't be given a pass. Current Justice Ginsburg was excoriated for saying look outside the US for better ideas. Honestly, what's the difference?
In Roosevelt's day at the time of Progressivism's birth, there were people who saw it for what it truely was:
I have often listened to well-meaning men who have spoken with a certain horror of Wisconsin, as if it were a community engaged in reckless experiment and in the effort to introduce impossible and revolutionary principles of law and governmental practice.
It is only in Wisconsin, so far as I know, that a really serious and thorough effort is being made to find out how to frame measures which shall give the people effective control over the big corporations without going into wild extravagance; and in this effort politician and student have joined hands.
There's important phrasing here: "control of business". See, Roosevelt was not a marxist, so extreme communal beliefs offended him. But he was fond of government controlling businesses, and didn't consider it to be tyrannical. He was warned. He rejected those warnings. He embraced a more active government and actively circumvented the constitution when it pleased him.
I know I've gone off on a bit of a tangent with this, but it serves as an important contrast. This is what the cancer looks like, what words it uses, and how it uses them. And I hope people wont mistake the man for the movement, because I don't. Progressivism is much larger than just Theodore Roosevelt. These ideals were, and still are widespread. Knowing the similarities makes them easier to spot.
That was very interesting, thank you. My grandparents were from Wisconsin.
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