Constitution 201: Post 1960’s Progressivism

This lesson is taught by Dr. John Grant, Assistant Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College.  Dr. Grant teaches courses in early modern political philosophy and American political thought.  He received his BA from Eureka College, and his MA and PhD in Politics from the University of Dallas.  Dr. Grant’s research interests include natural law tradition, American foreign policy, and the relationship between theology and politics.  He is an Adjunct Fellow at the Claremont Institute. The Great Society of the mid-1960’s was the culmination of the Old Progressive vision.  President Johnson was within that tradition.  Guided by our government experts, and with no help from “nature’s God,” we would fulfill all human aspirations, material and spiritual.  We would address our racial issues through special attention to the historical conditions that made fair competition impossible for blacks as a group.  Government experts would redistribute resources into newly empowered black communities to lift up the disadvantaged people and strengthen the black family.  We would protect and improve our environment to meet our human spiritual needs.  We would end poverty and rebuild our civilization, accomplishing ends never even believed possible by those who came before us.  All this brought to us by government administrators who knew how to work the levers of reform for the benefit of the people. That boundless faith in the science of government to meet any and all human needs was about to be replaced by a New Progressivism, a modern “liberalism,” that brought new ideas to the Progressive project.  There are continuities and discontinuities in the ideas of the old and new Progressives, and it is worthwhile to...

Over the Fiscal Cliff, Or There And Back Again

As this column is being written America is preparing to head down the, theatrically styled, “Fiscal Cliff.” That “cliff” really is the chicken roost of 40 years of mostly disappointing — and more than a decade of catastrophic — economic growth. Lousy growth leads to a diminished tax base, capable of producing only anemic tax revenues. Washington, DC is emulating Sherlock Holmes locked in mortal combat with its own Moriarity-style criminal mastermind: the Deficit. In its own re-enactment of The Final Problem Washington disappears — whether by rappelling in a mini-deal, or hurtling — over its own Reichenbach Falls: The Fiscal Cliff. Holmes later is found to have survived. So will Washington. Spoiler Alert: Here’s how we actually will climb out. It will have nothing to do with what happens in the next few days. The solution revolves around this Sherlock Holmes axiom: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth,” as Holmes observed in A Scandal in Bohemia. The 113th Congress is preparing to forsake the 112th’s fixation on the impossible. All but unnoticed by a Washington press corps obsessed by celebrities and melodrama the GOP has generated an impressive new set of leaders. These leaders will make the House turn its power toward creating an economic climate to sustain growth. The media’s focus on politicos associated with impossible budget policy will wane. The national focus will shift to officials committed to generating real equitable prosperity through healthy free markets, a climate that will melt the deficit. This almost certainly will begin with monetary reform. A “Monetary Policy Reform Express” already is barreling down...