What Progressivism tries its hardest to hide.
The legacy of American Progressivism today carries connotations such as inclusivity, empathy, and tolerance. Despite how much modern progressives would like to claim this as its heritage, history — their history — paints a dramatically different picture. The truth behind American Progressivism is just as ugly as that of the secessionists. At the very heart of American Progressivism are the roots of a racist doctrine, greatly reliant upon eugenics.
Nowadays, the word “eugenics” is linked to that of the German National Socialists of the 20th century. But until it was discovered that the Nazis had executed millions of Jews, they found much support for their practices among Americans — American progressives, that is. The likes of Herbert Croly (founder of The New Republic), W.E.B. Du Bois, and Margaret Sanger spearheaded the effort to entrench American Progressivism’s collectivist design into our political system. It was on their shoulders that progressive “heroes” like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson managed to implement their disastrous policies that continue to plague us to this day.
To understand progressivism in the 21st century, its 20th century roots must first be understood. It is a history of vile doctrine, concealed by collectivist camouflage. It can be summed up as “religion of the state,” and is present throughout progressivism’s lifespan. It survives through a steady dose of revisionist history in which progressive villains are cast as heroes, and revolting motivations are glossed over in favor of minor half-truths. This is progressivism’s legacy.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, progressive judicial hero, in writing to his friend — and fellow eugenicist — Harold Laski, once lauded “I…delivered an opinion upholding the constitutionality of a state law for sterilizing imbeciles the other day—and felt that I was getting near the first principle of real reform.” 
“Someday we will realize that the prime duty of a good citizen of the right type is to leave his blood behind him in the world and that we have no business to perpetuate citizens of the wrong type” -Theodore Roosevelt 
It’s hard to fathom that these words were uttered by an American president of the last century. The concept of eliminating the “undesirables” in society is not a new concept in the history of mankind, yet it remains one antithetical to the ideals our country was founded upon. Despite the early 20th century being a period in which women gained equal rights in the eyes of the law, and racial relations became incrementally better, the eugenic fad swept across the country. It had already been a mainstay in various parts of Europe, but like most things made its way across the Atlantic.
A focal point organization of American Progressivism today traces its roots back to this time period. What is known today as Planned Parenthood was originally called the American Birth Control League. The founder of this organization, Margaret Sanger, was a devout socialist — and a member of the much ignored American Eugenics Society. Though the overt eugenicist in Sanger was not unique to her youth, it continued on throughout her entire career, and remains instilled in her legacy. Sanger introduced her “Negro Project” during the Great Depression, which utilized strategic distribution of birth control to further suppress black birthrates. Ensuring the “undesirables” of society procreate less remained the backbone of Sanger’s philosophy. This has continued throughout the decades since Sanger’s death, particularly within the organization that claims her tutelage. Planned Parenthood was responsible for 328,348 abortions (despite Sanger herself being opposed to abortion) just last year — a disproportionate amount of which were black babies. It was Sanger’s desire to rid society of those she deemed unfavorable to her progressive worldview.
But Sanger was not the only one spearheading Eugenic practices within the Progressive Movement. The 28th President, Woodrow Wilson, while Governor of New Jersey signed legislation that instituted the Board of Examiners of Feeble-minded, Epileptics, and Other Defectives. This unelected board had the power to designate individuals “unfit” for procreation.
Eugenic affection reappeared in a later administration as well; FDR’s. Charles Van Hise, a close Roosevelt advisor once professed:
“We know enough about agriculture so that the agricultural production of the country could be doubled if the knowledge were applied; we know enough about disease so that if the knowledge were utilized, infections and contagious diseases would be substantially destroyed in the United States within a score of years; we know enough about eugenics so that if the knowledge were applied, the defective classes would disappear within a generation.” 
The desire at the heart of this is of central planning. The goal to map out every possible scenario reality could take, and being able to choose which path to take. Conservatism recognizes it is impossible to account for every possible scenario — and progressivism survives through the belief that if only our leaders had pulled the right societal strings, then all risk would be avoided. Individuals are sovereign beings in their own lives, and as long as their actions do not violate law, their lives are theirs, and theirs alone, to live. Progressivism of old thrived on taking that sovereignty away from the individual and giving it to the State. Modern progressivism does the same, only with a smile on its face instead.
Modern progressives cling to the notion that they serve as the champions of the lower class and defenders of minorities. Nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality they have, over time and to the misfortune of a large segment of society, turned the very people they claim to defend into pawns for their own agenda. Like their propensity to support eugenics, their twisted belief that the world must be rid of a class of undesirables naturally finds a home in the racist corners of our country.
The most obvious yet misunderstood vehicle of racism in our nation has been the establishment of the minimum wage. On the exterior it was cleverly designed to give the appearance of being helpful to those of less means: how could anyone argue against mandating that someone receive a decent wage?
An early progressive by the name of Sidney Webb, who was representative of many economic progressives early in the 20th century referred to African Americans as the “unemployable class.” The goal of many progressives was to block these types of citizens (African Americans, Hispanics, immigrants, etc.) out of the job market by establishing a mandated wage above their average skill level . This, in the end, would lead to their extinguishment from society. While modern liberals label conservatives as “social darwinists” for advocating against the minimum wage, they are the ones who do the least skilled in society the most harm. If businesses are forced to pay out higher and higher wages, they will naturally demand higher skill sets to make that expenditure worthy of their oftentimes slim margins of profit. This boxes the less skilled out of the job market and into the welfare system, which is of course an entirely different institution built and maintained by, you guessed it, progressives.
The ultimate goal is power. Power over the powerless with the intention of turning that into profits and increased control. It is an unfortunate truth that many minorities in our country who have fallen lock step in with modern Liberals do so at their own peril. Sydney Webb was quoted saying, “Of all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites, the most ruinous to the community is to allow them unrestrainedly to compete as wage earners.” Like virtually every other aspect of progressivism, control serves as the dominating currency.
Destruction of History and the Constitution
At the very heart of American Progressivism is an assault on the U.S. Constitution. Our founding document has served as the largest roadblock to the progressive agenda over the last century. Progressives like Wilson and Roosevelt inherently believed that the Constitution is a living, breathing document rather than a foundational structure of government. As society evolves, so must the Constitution. The concept of a “living” constitution has only grown over the decades, but it remains complete anathema to the goal of preserving natural rights and liberties of the individual. If the constitution can be freely morphed with each proceeding generation, then so too can our rights be altered as time elapses. Though adding amendments to the Constitution allows for change, progressives find it to be too slow to fit their agenda.
While the Founding Fathers designed our government as a government of laws, not men, the progressives adhered, and still do adhere, to a completely contradictory theory. In his piece The New Freedom, Woodrow Wilson said as much when he wrote, “Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men[…]”(1). These blind forces that Wilson refers to, though he casts it in a negative light, are in fact the free market and political institutions that retain no loyalty to any group or partisan leaning. This impartiality has been an essential force in moderating and stabilizing our system of government. By surrendering this to the whims of men, we allow selfish agendas to take hold on the backs of people without power, which are the same people that progressives claim to fight for.
One of the pivotal reasons the Constitution is despised is because of its protection of our separation of powers. Woodrow Wilson specifically desired the presidency to grow in strength, by claiming that in order to achieve what the people desired the Executive Branch had to be endowed with increased ability to act. Having co-equal branches of government can be maddening at times, but it establishes necessary moderation. To bypass this key tenant of the Constitution, the early progressives focused on growing federal bureaucracy, which has since exploded over the last century.
The surest and most effective way to dismantle the Constitution is to distort history. Beginning in the early twentieth century and extending to the present day, there has been a systematic attempt to place American history in a box, completely dislodged from modern society. If this can be accomplished it would be very easy to make the argument that the fears the Founding Fathers had about an unwieldy and overly powerful government are no longer applicable. Painting the past as nothing more than dusty old men breaks the American story apart into pieces, rather than seeing it as a chain of interconnected events that maintain relevance even to today.
Progressivism is anything but progressive. It’s intended goal is to fundamentally transform the country into a society where a few at the top dictate to everyone else how they should think and how they should live their lives. Ironically enough, in order to achieve this they accuse the other side, conservatives, of being the political strain of thought that wants to place power in the hands of a few at the top (The Right has its fair share of problems to work out, but this more prevalent among the Left). This is an attempt to “purify” their cause and create a convenient strawman for their ultimate end goal — to have the exact same kind of authority they claim to fight against.
So what does all of this have to do with today’s progressivism? Progressivism of old established itself as an avenue of control. That has certainly been passed down through the generations. Another shared gene is the idea that progressives know how to better run an individual’s life, than they do. Both are rampant throughout modern progressivism. It is no wonder the racist eugenicists of the past took to progressivism like bees to honey.
In the early 20th century progressivism had a foot in each party in the form of leading figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Over time, however, the bulk of Republicans rejected this twisted ideology, while Democrats embraced it. With constant tweaks and adjustments it now stands as a much more clever movement than it’s rudimentary origins. The ends of progressivism have always been the same. The means to achieve that end have changed over time to become much more subtle than the tactics employed by Wilson, Roosevelt, and others of the same ilk. There is no doubt that there has been a stark difference between progressivism and liberalism. However, the lines have started to blur with progressivism slowly swallowing up the traditional Democratic Party. Soon there will be nothing left but a behemoth of big government and an institution of social control.
1) Pestritto, Ronald J., and William J. Atto. American Progressivism: a Reader. Lexington Books, 2008.
2) Napolitano, Andrew P. Theodore and Woodrow: How Two Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom. Thomas Nelson, 2012.
3) Goldberg, Jonah. Liberal Fascism: the Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Change. Broadway Books, 2009.