“OK Don, what is your point?”

That is certainly a fair question, especially when you consider the fact that I’ve been writing about politics on a blog that isn’t about politics. Yes, you deserve an explanation, and here it is:

We have all been hearing, and indeed many of us have been asking questions like the following:

Why was the campaign so nasty? Why are recent elections so very close? Why is there “gridlock” in Washington and nothing ever gets done? Why are so many people so angry? Why is the news coverage so slanted? Whatever happened to compromise? Where are the leaders and statesmen? On and on it goes, and there is an answer to all of these questions.

The history of men “under the sun” ebbs and flows. There is an established order of things, and then a new movement comes along. Compromises are made by statesmen who rise to the challenges of their times, but sooner or later there are no more compromises left to be made and the result is gridlock. In those times, things drag on for a time, and then one side or the other wins; a new order is established or an old one is preserved peacefully, while other times the result is war.

Here are two examples from American history; if you are not American, perhaps you will think of examples from your country’s past…

In Colonial America, there was an established order of things until the “classical liberalism” of the Enlightenment gained wide acceptance in the colonies. When that happened, it ran headlong into the Imperial might of the British Government and it became clear fairly quickly, all things considered, that there were no compromises to be made. The only option left was war, and the colonies won independence from Britain, establishing a new order of things in America in the late 18th century. Sadly however, things soon became difficult as it became more and more obvious that there had developed two distinct worldviews in the new Nation that revolved around the Institution of Slavery. Through the early 19th century, compromises were made by statesmen who worked tirelessly to hold the new Republic together, but in the middle of that century it became clear that all of the available compromises had been made; it was time for one side or the other to win, and once again war resulted and slavery was abolished as a result.

By the late 19th century, a new worldview was developing that came to be known as Progressivism. This new worldview ran headlong into the checks and balances put in place by the classical liberals of the early Republic. Throughout the 20th century these two ideologies faced off both in America and Europe in a somewhat different way as the local “order” was faced with one form or another of new ideology, each country dealing with it in its own way. In America, statesmen arose and compromises were made, but by the early 21st century it has become more and more evident that there are no more compromises to be made, and gridlock has taken hold; politics has become very nasty indeed. Faced with difficult challenges both at home and abroad, somebody needs to win, hopefully peacefully, or the Nation cannot move forward; this is the dirty little secret that no one is willing to utter in public.

In this climate, Donald Trump donned the mask of a Populist and ran a protest candidacy to take advantage of the fact that a great number of Americans has lost patience with gridlock and respect for Washington. He challenged the pervasive atmosphere of political correctness and won the White House. Yet when the mask of the campaign finally comes off on January 20th, who will we have elected: A classical liberal or an uber Progressive?

Only the President Elect knows for sure.

This dear reader is why things are as they are, at least in my view. Obviously you are welcome to see things differently.

In case I am using terms you aren’t familiar with here, a “classical liberal” can be described simply as someone who believes in and places a high priority on individual liberty and limited government. Ironically, in modern day parlance we call them “Conservative”. Progressives, again simply stated, are those who believe in and place a high priority on governmental activism to manage and solve the country’s challenges to bring about a better society, and once again ironically, we refer to this as “liberal” in our time. I hope you have noticed that I did not say “Republican” or “Democrat”, and I didn’t because there are both views represented in both parties, as well as in independent parties; this is an ideological struggle, not a partisan one.

Finally, having spent so many years of my life researching this, I thought I would create a series of posts in the form of a weekly “feature” on this blog to trace the history and development of Progressivism. I’m thinking that these posts would run on Sunday afternoons beginning in January so that anyone who is interested in such things might have the opportunity to get an introduction to the subject from which they can begin their own adventure of research, without interfering with our “regular programming”.

Any thoughts?

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Christian Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to “OK Don, what is your point?”

  1. paulfg says:

    I’m curious – and in. Thank you.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Cool. Didn’t I read somewhere that you are the curious sort?

      • Yes, go ahead it makes America sound just like here yet here we minions in the Underclasses are always fearing that our Politicians will move yet closer to the American Systems and definitions – or changes thereof and deprive us of more of our Maslov hierarchy. Our health system which used to ensure that everyone had equal access to care is gradually being sold off to huge corporations, health Insurance is unaffordable for the aged and poor and the new privatised hospitals want $4,000 to walk in the front door prior to surgery before anything else happens. They keep threatening us from one side with an “American type Health System” and at the same time tell us that the Poor do not pay enough taxes and that the rich share too much of the burden.

        When I arrived here in 1966 there was no health care system and unless you could afford insurance you just didn’t go to the doctor or hospital. Though diagnosed it was three years before I could access treatment for my Epilepsy because my migrant parents couldn’t afford Neurologists or Pharmacology. I was finally treated when I went status epilepticus while working as a nurse – free because I was a nurse. After 22 years of liberal (ah ah) rule, same definition as Don has given a brave Labor Prime Minister 1975 introduced a Public Healthcare system and Free University Education – far too late for those my age – apart from the Australian Aristocrats. Now both gone again.

  2. Bette Cox says:

    I am looking forward to those posts, Don. We Christians should never forget, there is a third actor in all of this. This particular election may be over but the war is ongoing.

  3. Barbara Lane says:

    Sounds great! Looking forward to reading your blogs.

  4. Tom says:

    Thanks, Don. You’ve presented a nice summary of the some of the major ebbs and flows in political thought here in the USA. Interesting and well done! I’m reminded that Christians should remain somewhat detached from the passions of worldly politics. Somehow Christians were able to use the Bible to promote revolution against Great Britain and ownership of slaves and civil war against the federal government.

  5. You’ve caught my attention. I’m in.

  6. dwmartens says:

    You are writing, publishing and distributing your book on the subject all in one step, a chapter at a time! And, the distribution list is quickly approaching 55,000 (assuming most of your followers active). That amazes me, and I indeed appreciate being one on that “distribution list.”

  7. Tom says:

    I am enjoying these posts. Some things I am interested in but have never taken the time to really study. I will continue to read them.

  8. Well, I reckon you might as well count me in too.

  9. Mel Wild says:

    Yes, would love the history lesson on Progressivism. Looking forward to it.

    One thought came to mind when reading this post. It’s funny that compromise is generally thought to be bad, when in politics it’s absolutely necessary. For unless you have bipartisan buy-in, whatever is done by one administration will be undone when the administration from the other party gets in power. This will be the legacy for Obama because he did so much by executive order instead of working with congress. Trump’s policies will have the same fate if he tries to do the same. Being too idealistic and uncompromising is actually the enemy of progress when it comes to the American political system (as you said, also leads to hostility). The wheels were designed to move very slowly and inclusively. That’s actually the genius of the system.

  10. I am all ears. I have always enjoyed a civil and healthy political debate.

  11. jimbelton says:

    “Individual liberty and limited government” sounds like libertarianism to me. Libertarians tend to be centrist. Bernie Sanders seemed to wear the mantle of progressive, whereas Clinton and Bush represented fairly centrist corporatism (either neoliberalism or neoconservatism). Too bad that the change candidate was a nationalist populist, rather than a libertarian like Ron Paul. If he turns out to be no good, it’s only four years. Who knows, maybe Trump’ll actually do some good.
    Here in Canada, we have purges of the establishment fairly regularly. Due to our progressives (the socialist “new democrats”) having their own party, they tend to split the vote with the centrist liberals (who are like your democrats), giving our conservatives (who are like your republicans) power. This seems to inevitably lead to excessive corporatism, at which point they are thrown out and the liberals take a turn. The socialists have yet to form a government, though they once formed a coalition with the liberals, and managed to bring in single payer health care during that term.

  12. Pingback: A Brief History of Progressivism, Episode 1 | The Life Project

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