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Progressivism’s Problem—the Price

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

There was a time—over a hundred years ago—when to battle the forces of rapacious greed for meat safe to eat, railroads safe to ride, and tenements safe to inhabit was the noble call of some progressive voices. Yet, Teddy Roosevelt reformers were not rough riders upon Americans’ individual liberties in pursuit of better, safer lives.

From another Roosevelt era onward, however, progressives eschewed the rights of individuals for the power of the state. Instead of the Old and New Testaments, and the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas and John Locke, theirs have been the Books of Marx and Alinsky. Instead of ‘Love thy neighbor,’ it became ‘Compel they neighbor for the common good.’ No longer were individuals seen as beacons of liberty but as threats to a new order where, progressives said, each would receive according to his need. In and of itself, progressivism may not be evil, but its steroidal mutations—fascism, Nazism, and communism—have been nothing but.

In 1984, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Pope John Paul II said, “There is the danger of replacing Marxism with another form of atheism which, praising freedom, tends to destroy the roots of human and Christian morality.” In his book, A Pope and A President, Dr. Paul Kengor says JPII was referring to secular progressivism, a movement responsible for “millions of abortions in the name of ‘freedom’ and banishing God from the new constitution of the European Union.”

Banishing God from everyday life was an important first step following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The Leninists were ruthless in their quest of a Godless society. Today’s progressives need not be, as an entitlement public marches steadily away from an Almighty Providence to a governmental one. Because progressives have nearly driven the Almighty from our public spaces and made it uncool to attend places of worship, it is a matter of time before Freedom of Religion will be its own relic. Europeans have largely abandoned active faith in God, and where has that gotten them?

Why do progressives fear God so? Because the very notion of a Creator is critical to individual liberty. Who may have been one of the first in our country to see progressivism’s threat was Bishop Fulton Sheen, who spoke the truism that, “God can live without democracy, but democracy cannot live without God.” What he was getting at was nothing less than our survival as a free people, and he was speaking as only an American could.

The Gospel of Matthew I heard on Sunday speaks of the man who finds a pearl of great price and does whatever he must to possess it. This and other parables proclaim the universal truth that our relationship with the Almighty is an individual one, and it is a tenet held by all Abrahamic religionists. Aside from the unique covenant with the Jews, our rights do not come to us with a group discount because we are female or male, Black, Latino, White, Asian, or a member of the LGBTQ brigade. Rather, we were born to our rights as human beings, individually endowed by our Creator, and progressives know they cannot be legalized away if God is in our lives.

The difference, then, between the progressivism of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth Warren and the natural law philosophy of Aquinas, Locke, and our Founders is stark: they firmly believed our individual rights to be inalienable, that they come from the one Creator and no one else. Obamians believe our rights are granted to us by the government of the moment, that our Constitution must morph to what (progressives think) is necessary for our times.

Without the principle of inalienability, of individual rights, there is little to resist the siren song of free stuff progressives constantly sing. Theirs is a Ponzi sham where the state takes what it wants and distributes it according to the lights of the current ruling clique. It’s not as if taking the life of a viable infant in the womb, breaking into our country and living here illegally, or trashing several thousand years of marital practices are God-given “rights.” Progressives know these to be vote-buying bribes, not inalienable rights from the Almighty. As such, they are flimsy, fragile, and ephemeral, and that includes the pursuit of happiness, when elected progressives decide how we marry, raise and educate our children, and perhaps, how and when we die.

In less than one generation, when numberless baby boomers burden an already sagging health system, and maintaining the warehoused millions denies dollars to new state largesse, such as a free college education, progressives—in power—will propose, ultimately, a final sunset for vast numbers of the elderly. Because the Creator has been removed from the progressives’ equation, there will be no moral basis to object, and rights, once thought immutable, will be taken away for the greater good. Will “90 And Out” be their 2024 campaign slogan?

It’s always a fair question to ask supporters of progressivism what liberties (of ours) they would trade for government goodies, when in the world of Obamians, progressivism’s ultimate price in securing power must always be liberty itself.

There are times when even rugged individuals must act in unison, knowing what patriots of 1776 knew: We acted then to bridle the power of a king and declare independence. We must act now, not just to resist the progressivist tide, but to advance the liberties for which so many have lain their lives on the altar of freedom.

In an era when voters seem easily driven toward the warming notions of empathetic “rights,” elegant speech, kumbaya companionship, and spandex liberties, when so many are brushing aside the Author of our national soul, the better question is:

What are all the rest of us thinking?

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