Tags: Progressivism

What is Progressivism in 2014?


Peter Lawler looks at Elizabeth Warren’s eleven points and concludes, “So the effectual truth of progressivism is contained to the realm of ‘autonomy’ (a basically sophisticated issue) with some Green stuff.  It’s Silicon Valley or left-corporate capitalism.” Carl Scott argues that it is premature to think the left has abandoned the progressive understanding of liberty: the social justice of the national community (number 4 in his fivefold typology). I would say the rhetorical truth of progressivism now leans toward Carl’s fifth category: personal autonomy liberty (see, for example, the reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision). In addition, the current environment is not (to say the least) hospitable to big government. It’s tough to sell liberty as social justice for the national community in light of the Veterans Affairs debacle, a rogue IRS, the NSA and big data, the immigration crisis on the border, and the wonders of Obamacare. But the effectual truth of progressivism (its heart and soul) is still social justice. Jonah Goldberg’s description below thus still fits the current crop of progressives:

Bureaucrats and other planners need — or at least want — ever more power to decide how economic resources are arranged and allocated. That doesn’t mean they’re socialists, it just means that corporations need to follow their lead. Indeed, good “corporate citizenship” means acquiescing to the priorities of progressive state planners and whatever their latest idea of “public–private partnerships” might be.

Jeffrey Anderson in The Weekly Standard gives us a bird’s eye view of this process under Obamacare. Lots of meetings with CEOs of the largest insurance companies at the White House to ensure public relations coordination (among other things). And then there’s this:

After Obama lawlessly empowered himself to un-ban the plans that Obamacare had banned by law, insurers weren’t happy, so the administration responded by paying them off. It did so by changing the rules regarding two programs buried in the bowels of Obamacare — its risk-corridor and reinsurance programs.  As Jay Cost and I wrote this spring, the administration changed the rules “to funnel more money to insurers.  Put simply, the administration lowered the threshold at which insurers become eligible for reinsurance money, and it made more generous the formula by which insurers get paid under the risk corridors.”  In the process, Obama effectively turned the risk-corridor program into his own personal slush fund.

If contemporary progressivism is some combination of progressive liberty and personal-autonomy liberty, must one of those conceptions eventually win out? Or is there some stable hybrid developing? James Poulos thinks he’s identified the hybrid: what he terms the “pink police state” or what Carl might call “statist-autonomy liberty.” Poulos explains the strange combination of hyper-autonomy/permissiveness and hyper-statism/interventionism:

In a culture where social or interpersonal freedom is valued much more than political freedom, government becomes assertive in restricting “unhealthy” and “risky” activity, but assertive in broadening the ability of individuals to pursue pleasure in “healthy” and “secure” ways. That means both more permissiveness and more intervention in sexual life: a bigger portion of society is “sexualized,” and a bigger portion of society falls within the official sphere of life.

But Poulos emphasizes the instability of this system. Why? Because

there is no logical limit to how intrusive the new regime will get. Because political freedom is disvalued, once “public” and once “private” sector surveillance and monitoring may become completely comprehensive and permanent. This result is encouraged by a culture which feels increasingly fated to do what it is apt to do anyway by choice: put interpersonal, hedonic freedom far above political freedom in our relations with the state.

He also argues that these official freedoms will never be enough and people will continue to find new boundaries to cross. It seems to me that Poulos’s argument absolutely depends upon the devaluation of political freedom by the American people. This affirms what Carl argues in his essay about the importance of what he terms “classical-communitarian liberty.”

Tags: Carl Scott , James Polous , Peter Lawler , Progressivism , American Liberty

Does an Image of Pelosi Twerking Help the Right in Any Way?


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Does This Image Move the Ball in the Right Direction?

Over at, they’re launching a new California-focused site, and they’ve chosen to promote the site with some graphic posters in the Los Angeles area. Some are rather funny (depicting Piers Morgan as an illegal immigrant jumping a fence), but one Photoshops Nancy Pelosi’s head onto Miley Cyrus’s body in her infamous “Twerking” pose another depicts Mark Zuckerberg with fake breasts. (You can find the entire graphic image at the link above.) The lefties are furious, and there is some rumbling in some conservative quarters that the whole thing is too tasteless to be worthwhile.

I’m sure one justification will be, “Look, you have to do something shocking to get people’s attention!” That’s true, but at some point the shocking image defines the institution and sets the expectation for the publication. What is it that the publication really wants to say? Ultimately, our objection to Pelosi, Jerry Brown, Zuckerberg, etc., is with their ideas, philosophies and policies, not how they look, right? If the illustration related to some sort of article about them, or argument relating to them — “Read our expose on how Nancy Pelosi is twerking hard for wealthy Leftist special interests!” — it would be much easier to justify. But as is, the image just says, “Hey, haven’t we made these people look silly!”

I presume what Breitbart California wants to do is bring news to people’s attention that they wouldn’t otherwise see, because other California news sources are too biased and cozy with the Democratic political establishment to report inconvenient stories. Ultimately, if your aim is to bring people the truth, I’m not so sure that an image that is false — i.e., Nancy Pelosi has never twerked like Miley Cyrus — er, we hope — reinforces the message that “you need to come here to get the real story.”

Some might argue an extremely sexual image of a woman in the political world is already cliché. Spy magazine depicted Hillary Clinton as a dominatrix in 1993, and Salon depicted Sarah Palin as a dominatrix in 2008.

The second justification for the Pelosi image will be, “The Left does it too!” And indeed they do. But when do efforts to expose the Left’s double standard reach the point where the Right doesn’t have a standard?

At some point we’re going to have to decide what we want: a political culture in which Sarah Palin, or, say, S. E. Cupp, etc. can be depicted in sexist, humiliating, and derogatory ways, as well as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary and anyone else, or one in which that’s considered out of bounds. We can’t say it’s only wrong when they do it.

I know, I know, I’m a stodgy old-school traditionalist who doesn’t understand how to fight the Left with its own tools and expose their hypocrisy and double standards, and I’m a dry, boring inside-the-Beltway insider…

Anyway, now it’s turned into one of the Left’s standard “all Republican officeholders must be held accountable for something a non-elected conservative has said” routines, like we’ve seen with Rush Limbaugh, Ted Nugent, and others:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, called on Republicans to press Breitbart News to remove the artwork — one of several suggestive images on the website promoting the new California site.

The image of Pelosi, beneath one of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s face photo-shopped onto a flexing body builder, includes the sub-head: “Because you can’t make this s— up.”

“To say the least, the Breitbart News ad is foul, offensive and disrespectful to all women. It is a disgusting new low and would be reprehensible against any woman — regardless of party,” Wasserman Schultz wrote. “If GOP leaders are serious about their rebrand, then both their elected and party leadership should condemn this outrageous behavior; call on Breitbart News to immediately remove the ad, and not continue to use this website as a forum for their views.”

In a tweet linking to her statement, Wasserman Schultz called the photo-shopped image of Pelosi “misogynistic.”

Again . . . was the image worth it? Does it help us?

Tags: Nancy Pelosi , Progressivism

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