The High-water Mark of Progressivism

President Obama seems to think he can jawbone his “legacy” into permanency, despite the recent election. He says the Iran nuclear deal will endure. The Paris agreement will last. Regulations cannot and will not be rolled back. ObamaCare will retain its chief provisions.

But the political earthquake resulting in the election of Donald Trump is but an indicator of the tsunami of change that is about to happen. The truth of the matter is that the Obama administration saw the high-water mark of progressivism. Its overwhelming power has been broken.

Attempts to persuade the renegade American public and its new leaders back into the progressive fold will not cease, but they will be largely futile because Americans have made it clear they do not want progressivism to dictate domestic and foreign policy.

Why was there a revolution at the voting booth?

The revolution happened because Americans have seen the wrecking ball that is progressivism in action for the last eight years (and counting). The pendulum swung because citizens have watched as the leadership of the Democratic Party was gradually taken over by a bunch of fanatical extremists whose agenda was both morally and pragmatically repellent -- completely divorced from the realities of human existence.

What happened was that the once noble moral impulses undergirding the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s were gradually distorted by the radical feminist and gay rights movements, both of which hijacked civil rights terminology and both of which leveraged the momentum of the initial civil rights movement for their own increasingly fatuous, fanatical and narrow purposes; purposes which wound up badly hurting other Americans -- in fact, the American majority.

Jettisoning the highly religious foundations established by Martin Luther King, Jr., who spoke in terms of human rights as rights for all, the new so-called civil rights movements embraced by the Democratic Party did not seek equality before the law for all human beings, but rather special privileges and power for themselves regardless of the cost to others. In their attempts to promote the causes of the latest self-proclaimed victims, progressives ran roughshod over the core institutions of America and over those structures upholding her constitutional republic. The Church and her institutions were also targeted for destruction in the name of progress.

In some circles, it became seen as inherently hateful to be a Christian because the Christian conscience as defined by orthodox doctrine simply could not accommodate the demands of the Left and remain Christian. For example, America’s Christians saw a Harvard professor encourage progressives to treat Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, as Nazis were treated after the end of World War II. No quarter or clemency was to be offered Christians now that progressives were in the seats of power. Many progressives agreed with the professors’ assessment. For them, it was only just to persecute people like the Little Sisters of the Poor because of their stance on birth control.

As progressive extremism wrote Christians out of their script, they kept writing an increasingly radical script for the American masses to follow. Those who refused to act out the parts assigned them were treated with contempt and often exiled to the periphery of society, there to join the aforementioned leprous Christians already outside the camp.

Those who opposed the new truths -- “truths” which could be changed daily according to the latest decree of political correctness -- were treated with ridicule and often persecuted. Whether it was the CEO of Chick-fil-A or the small-town butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, those who stood against the progressive tide were marked for destruction.

Despite the deeply held convictions of tens of millions of America’s people of faith, the proselytizers of the progressive movement insisted on abortion on demand up to the point of birth. They insisted the primordial universal understanding of marriage as being between man and woman had to be redefined. Even gender, the foundational distinction of the human race, was to be “fluid,” open to redefinition at any time.

Included in the radical agenda was the completion of the retrofitting of academia to the progressive agenda. Even language was to be retooled in order to express gender preference; indeed, to eliminate the distinctions of words denoting male and female. Further, the doctrine of global warming was to become the accepted scientific viewpoint, and woe to those scientists who disagreed.

Such extreme positions are but a few examples of the radical transformations sought under the Obama administration and embraced by the Democratic Party, which from all appearances seems determined to double down on radical orthodoxy, oblivious or resistant to reform.

In other words, Americans were to be forced into believing and accepting a complete reversal of the Western understanding of reality and the substitution of unreality -- a worldview matching neither science nor acceding to the moral transcendence supplied by faith.

Instead, Americans were to be forced to agree with and live within the progressive bubble world that was hell bent on enforcing a confabulist viewpoint that would extend to the entire globe. History and even memory were up for grabs as the Brave New World was effectuated through force, as persuasion was not enough to do the job. 

But the unreality, extremism and fanaticism of leftist progressivism has been a sure sign of its demise. It became more and more abhorrent to the American people. Voters saw that their country could not continue to embrace the destructive concepts perpetrated and enforced by the Obama administration if America was to endure, much less flourish. If the nation was to survive, the progressive movement had to be rolled back.

As Eric Hoffer pointed out in The True Believer, the confabulist, not worried a bit about facts -- even those recorded on camera or by eye witnesses, can move on a dime and invent another truth to fit changing circumstances. Confabulists hand on their penchant for fabulism to their children, encouraging, for instance, transgenderism in kids as little as six. Of course, confabulism is a descent into insanity -- and mass insanity is what we are seeing today. “Fanatical orthodoxy is in all movements a late development. It comes when the movement is in full possession of power and can impose its faith by force as well as by persuasion.”

Americans had found themselves forced to believe and practice an ideology that endured only by coercion. As Hoffer notes, for a time, force works. “Thus coercion when implacable and persistent has an unequaled persuasiveness, and this not only with simple souls but also with those who pride themselves on the strength and integrity of their intellect.”

Progressives were Sovietizing America, to the point that arbitrary decrees from leading progressives, including the person inhabiting the White House, were forcing people of conscience to recant their convictions and confess their errors lest they be destroyed. We saw the United States military, for instance, subjected to progressivism’s politically-correct mandates that undermined the mission and effectiveness of the armed forces, while protesting generals were arbitrarily forced into resignation.

As time went on, the more unworkable and oppressive the mandate, the greater the force needed to ensure capitulation of the resistant. As Hoffer noted concerning Soviet Russia:

“The more unworkable communism proves in Russia, and the more its leaders are compelled to compromise and adulterate the original creed, the more brazen and arrogant will be their attack on a non-believing world.”

Here in America, what the above translated into was that those who have opposed the imposition of the latest progressive doctrine were persecuted as heretics.

Is it any wonder, then, that the pragmatic and commonsense Americans, along with those whose consciences and religious freedoms were constantly violated, revolted at last? Is it any wonder that when an elite few invent a world without any relationship to reality, the rest of unconverted society refuses to accommodate itself to their confabulist insanities? Is it any wonder that honest Americans saw, as did the late theologian John Webster, that “The lie can be kept intact only if anything which threatens to expose it is destroyed?” Is it any wonder that the mere mortals among us have seen that the progressive gods are mad, and that their insistence that we retrofit our existence and all of society to accommodate their insane demands was a potentially fatal assault on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

In sum, by using the power remaining to them; namely the voting booth, Americans repudiated the lies and subterfuges of the extremist progressive movement. While fundamentalist progressivism will live on for a time and fight back through academia, the media and Hollywood, the flood tide crested during the reign of Obama, and now has begun to recede. Progressives will increasingly live on in backwater subcultures, much like the ones to which for generations they routinely consigned those who opposed them. People like Al Gore will be seen in the same light Aimee Semple McPherson is now seen in retrospect -- as an irrelevant curiosity and the purveyor of pure poppycock.

It remains for the newly elected leadership to close their ears to those who want to preserve the outlandish “legacy” of the past eight years. It is time to forge ahead with the mandate of the voting public. Now is not the time for timid compromise and “reaching across the aisle.”

It’s time for conservatives to continue to continue to roll back the progressive tide -- across the board.

Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Her thoughts also have appeared in many other online publications such as National Review, CNS, RealClearReligion and Russia Insider. She may be reached at