It's not about Trump

In office for only a couple weeks, the president has already sent the opposition into hysteria.  They started before the inauguration and haven’t quit.

Donald Trump’s new cabinet and his executive orders may have given them plenty to oppose, but clumsy, poorly executed executive orders and boorish tweets are not the burning of the Reichstag.  The Democrats risk exhausting their outrage.  What will they do if he does something really stupid?  If Trump is as evil as they think, they may want to pace themselves.

The election was not about Trump, and it should be important for the left to realize this.  It is about the decay of progressive government ideology.  Some may call it more of a rupture, but it is a failure of great proportion.

There have been three phases of progressivism since its appearance on the American political scene, each punctuated by exhaustion and reaction.

The first Progressive Era lasted from Theodore Roosevelt through Woodrow Wilson.  It brought us the administrative and regulatory state, the income tax (Sixteenth Amendment) the Federal Reserve, and greater power in the hands of the federal government.  It ended in exhaustion when a physically weakened Wilson lost his political capital trying and failing to persuade the U.S. to enter the League of Nations.

The first reactive period lasted from Harding through Hoover but was best exemplified by Coolidge, who confidently rejected the progressivism of the past. 

The second phase of progressivism lasted from Franklin Roosevelt through Jimmy Carter.  This period was extended by the Great Depression, World War II, and the ensuing Cold War.  When the devastated countries of the world recovered, we found our limits.  Expensive social programs and costly foreign engagements strained our resources and left us with the stagnation of the 1970s.  This second phase ended with Reagan, whose anti-progressive posture exposed government as the problem rather than the solution.  This reactive period lasted through Bill Clinton, who announced that the era of big government was over.

George W. Bush and his compassionate conservatism tried to restore government as a solution but with conservative hands on the controls.  Obama went full bore, attaining the golden ring of progressivism: national health care.

But Obama overreached with his mythical mandate.  After the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the Democrats’ political control steadily deteriorated with lossesof the House and then the Senate, but more importantly, the states’ governorships and legislatures.  The decay is most visible on examination at the county level.

In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton won with just over 1,500 counties, only slightly fewer counties than the GOP opposition.  The Democrats controlled the areas with greater electoral votes and easily won the elections.  From 2000 on, the Democrats never won 1,000 counties.  Even though Obama won in 2008 with a record number of votes, he won only 873 counties against 2,238 counties for the GOP.  He won again in 2012 with only 693 counties, the fewest ever to win a presidential  election.  This erosion made Democrats vulnerable to any change in a constituent group, which is precisely what battered them when the Midwestern union blue collars abandoned ship.

This election was the Republicans’ to lose, and to many of us, it seemed that the Republicans nominated the only candidate who could lose to Hillary Clinton, but the opposite proved true.  The Democrats nominated possibly the only person who could lose to Donald Trump.

Trump’s populist appeal may have excited the “forgotten man,” but the voters spoke loudest in their rejection of the progressivism that Hillary wore with pride.  While Trump’s outrageousness may have attracted the attention of the press and pundits, his election was more of a continuation of a trend in place than a revolutionary break.

The current mutation of progressivism included identity politics, which is just a liberal form of racism, and political correctness driven to an intolerant extreme, resembling a liberal form of sharia law or McCarthyism. 

Today’s progressivism is illiberal, anti-individual, and as economically stagnant as the other progressive periods eventually became.  If the voices that so loudly denounce Trump fail to reject the failed progressivism that elected him, then they will only empower him.

If they continue to blame their loss on conservative pathologies, malfunctioning electoral colleges, racism, anti-intellectualism, FBI director James Comey, Russian hacking, fake news, alternate reality, and post-truth, they will fail to even acknowledge the need to change.  Their hysteria and hypocrisy will drive sober skeptics farther right, preferring a deeply flawed Trump to the nonsense opposing him.

Henry Oliner blogs at www.rebelyid.com.

In office for only a couple weeks, the president has already sent the opposition into hysteria.  They started before the inauguration and haven’t quit.

Donald Trump’s new cabinet and his executive orders may have given them plenty to oppose, but clumsy, poorly executed executive orders and boorish tweets are not the burning of the Reichstag.  The Democrats risk exhausting their outrage.  What will they do if he does something really stupid?  If Trump is as evil as they think, they may want to pace themselves.

The election was not about Trump, and it should be important for the left to realize this.  It is about the decay of progressive government ideology.  Some may call it more of a rupture, but it is a failure of great proportion.

There have been three phases of progressivism since its appearance on the American political scene, each punctuated by exhaustion and reaction.

The first Progressive Era lasted from Theodore Roosevelt through Woodrow Wilson.  It brought us the administrative and regulatory state, the income tax (Sixteenth Amendment) the Federal Reserve, and greater power in the hands of the federal government.  It ended in exhaustion when a physically weakened Wilson lost his political capital trying and failing to persuade the U.S. to enter the League of Nations.

The first reactive period lasted from Harding through Hoover but was best exemplified by Coolidge, who confidently rejected the progressivism of the past. 

The second phase of progressivism lasted from Franklin Roosevelt through Jimmy Carter.  This period was extended by the Great Depression, World War II, and the ensuing Cold War.  When the devastated countries of the world recovered, we found our limits.  Expensive social programs and costly foreign engagements strained our resources and left us with the stagnation of the 1970s.  This second phase ended with Reagan, whose anti-progressive posture exposed government as the problem rather than the solution.  This reactive period lasted through Bill Clinton, who announced that the era of big government was over.

George W. Bush and his compassionate conservatism tried to restore government as a solution but with conservative hands on the controls.  Obama went full bore, attaining the golden ring of progressivism: national health care.

But Obama overreached with his mythical mandate.  After the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the Democrats’ political control steadily deteriorated with lossesof the House and then the Senate, but more importantly, the states’ governorships and legislatures.  The decay is most visible on examination at the county level.

In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton won with just over 1,500 counties, only slightly fewer counties than the GOP opposition.  The Democrats controlled the areas with greater electoral votes and easily won the elections.  From 2000 on, the Democrats never won 1,000 counties.  Even though Obama won in 2008 with a record number of votes, he won only 873 counties against 2,238 counties for the GOP.  He won again in 2012 with only 693 counties, the fewest ever to win a presidential  election.  This erosion made Democrats vulnerable to any change in a constituent group, which is precisely what battered them when the Midwestern union blue collars abandoned ship.

This election was the Republicans’ to lose, and to many of us, it seemed that the Republicans nominated the only candidate who could lose to Hillary Clinton, but the opposite proved true.  The Democrats nominated possibly the only person who could lose to Donald Trump.

Trump’s populist appeal may have excited the “forgotten man,” but the voters spoke loudest in their rejection of the progressivism that Hillary wore with pride.  While Trump’s outrageousness may have attracted the attention of the press and pundits, his election was more of a continuation of a trend in place than a revolutionary break.

The current mutation of progressivism included identity politics, which is just a liberal form of racism, and political correctness driven to an intolerant extreme, resembling a liberal form of sharia law or McCarthyism. 

Today’s progressivism is illiberal, anti-individual, and as economically stagnant as the other progressive periods eventually became.  If the voices that so loudly denounce Trump fail to reject the failed progressivism that elected him, then they will only empower him.

If they continue to blame their loss on conservative pathologies, malfunctioning electoral colleges, racism, anti-intellectualism, FBI director James Comey, Russian hacking, fake news, alternate reality, and post-truth, they will fail to even acknowledge the need to change.  Their hysteria and hypocrisy will drive sober skeptics farther right, preferring a deeply flawed Trump to the nonsense opposing him.

Henry Oliner blogs at www.rebelyid.com.