Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Tooting someone else’s horn

Andrew Busch, co-author of this classic account of the 2000 election and this soon-to-be classic about the 2004 election, offers his thoughts on progressivism then and now over on the main site. The progressivism of 1906, embodied in Theodore Roosevelt’s State of the Union Message, has a lot more in common with the conservatism of 2005 than it does with contemporary so-called progressivism. Unlike their contemporary namesakes (I hesitate to call them cousins or descendants), the progressives of 1906 believed in national greatness, supported the traditional family, and did not hesitate to criticize the judiciary. If you wonder why Kansans liked progressives then and seem to dislike them now, here’s Busch’s answer:

The left is now perceived, correctly, as the political home of anti-Americanism, unwilling to carry (let alone wield) the big stick or to forthrightly decry the wicked will of despots and barbarians, and willing (if not anxious) to hand over American sovereignty to international bureaucrats. It has furthermore become the political home of social and moral libertinism, whose adherents complain that the Constitution should not be cluttered up with trivialities like marriage because the home life of the commonwealth has few public consequences worth worrying about. And it has become the force in American politics most wedded to government by judiciary, and most reflexively opposed to any effort to put the judiciary under greater scrutiny or accountability. In the process, it has managed to ignite the most highly charged cultural issues of the day.

Busch hastens to add that we shouldn’t all necessarily embrace the Bull Moose. And I would hasten to add that we need to think about the coherence of the Rooseveltian positions we seem to have inherited with other tenets of conservatism (not to mention among themselves).

Read the whole thing and think deep thoughts.

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