In a recent column at American Mind, Cole Simmons makes a most astonishing claim:
The good guys have won again and again in American history. The Revolutionaries defeated the slaves of King George. The North defeated the South. Progressivism changed some things but was put down after a long struggle. (emphasis mine)
Progressivism “was put down” in America? Surely not. It makes more sense to say Progressivism put down America.
At the very least, the progressives have transformed America. They have remade the limited federal government of the founders into the ever-expanding progressive leviathan of today; it is now the kind of government the founders were trying to prevent.
If the outcome of the struggle between Progressivism and Americanism is not yet settled, the odds are certainly stacked in favor of the progressives. Progressives hold the commanding heights in American society, from academia to the news business and Hollywood, and progressives populate government at every level.
The Democrats are the Progressive Party through and through, and the RINOs are the progressive wing of the Republican Party. One day in 2012, my neighbor and I happened to go to our mailboxes at the same time. He was, as always in those days, wearing one of his Obama/Biden T-shirts. He said, “You must be really happy the Republicans have a candidate who is an extreme conservative.” I replied, “both of them are progressives.” In answer to his deeply puzzled look, I said with a shrug, “Obamacare was based on Romneycare.” He regarded me silently for some time, then without a word started back down his driveway.
Progressivism is pervasive. Curiously, though Simmons writes that Progressivism was put down, he also seems to recognize that something dire has happened:
If the old republic is over, let’s prepare the ground for what’s next.
Evidently, Simmons is entertaining the idea that something has finished off the old republic. And there is no mystery about what that something must be. If, as he suggests, the old republic has been finished off, it was finished off by the Progressives.
It seems there is a contradiction in Simmons’ column unrecognized by its author. If that is so, perhaps this can best be understood as yet another example of what happens when something is completely pervasive—it goes unnoticed. Progressivism’s victories are so pervasive and so extensive that Progressivism’s changes are barely recognized.
When Tocqueville visited America in 1831, he found that Americans in general had a good grasp of the American idea and were generally quite capable of thinking like the American citizens envisioned by the founders. Today, not so much. For the last century Progressivism has increasingly dominated every aspect of American life. If it still makes sense to speak of an American mind, Progressivism has penetrated it profoundly. We are in the midst of finding out whether or not America has changed its mind.