Over the past century wave after wave of Progressivism has washed over the country. Since these waves are strongest in the time of a Progressive President, we can say that the Progressive waves have included both Roosevelts and, on balance, Richard Nixon. Theodore Roosevelt was the opening act for Wilson, with Taft standing for little except Taft. Some of Wilson was rolled back by Harding/Coolidge; Coolidge having the wisdom and foresight to quit a winner before the roof fell in. Hapless Hoover ushered in FDR’s, the major wave in the series, the “seventh wave” as the surfers say, and Truman was the back end of that wave some of which was reversed by Eisenhower. Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon were the next wave of Progressivism. Ford who really was the most athletic and despite how Chevy Chase played it, was clearly the most physically graceful President ever, and did as much as any given his short tenure to hold back the Progressives.
In Carter’s big toothy smile, religious and military poses, we had the first attempt at a complete overthrow the Constitution in fact, not openly of course, but to carry to conclusion the accretion of executive power and crippling of Congress and the Judiciary. Of course we would still have been encouraged to keep the Fourth of July, to parade and get all choked up at the veterans marching, flags waving, and “Stars and Stripes Forever”. But after the parade and the hot dogs we would all have to go back to carefully obeying the regulations we had too, while quietly cutting around those we could, and being secretly satisfied with our cleverness. Never guessing that to maintain control, the Progressive plan needs lots of rule breakers as much as hordes of enforcers.
The writer has the government minister and cynic say: “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.” It isn’t only the guilt a corrupt Progressive government cashes in on, but the power of record storage. Raise your head, gather a small following, become troublesome to the centers of power and your record of law breaking will suddenly appear to discredit and marginalize you to the point of ridicule in and by a subservient media regime. If you survive as even a minor threat, the Patriot Act is there to send to you to join the hordes already in the joint because the just wanted to enjoy one. Your joyful jailer may well be a “smart” nominal conservative; no principles, no courage, no honor, no character, in other words a Progressive who says he’s conservative.
The Carter tactic failed. It was too big a bite too soon. We were not yet ready to surrender all our freedoms so we could gather and protect our ‘benefits’. Reagan rolled back a lot of that and planted Constitutional seeds that spouted 20 years later as that bane of “moderate” George Michael/Bob Dole/John McCain/Mitt Romney Republicans as well as Progressives, the TEA Party and its sympathizers. Bush 41 was a weak and watered down, Progressive distorted version of Reagan. He would have said: “Read my lips Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” and we know how that would have ended.
Clinton, Bush, and Obama make up the current wave and as each wave has seemed to roll up the beach higher than the last, this one threatens to finally breach the Constitutional seawall. If we don’t find a way and will to reverse the rising Obama wave, we must remember the wise man who said: “…you can’t stop what’s coming. It ain’t waiting to see if you approve.” Some men are simply destined to live in times when tyranny is on the rise. This may be one of those times. In times like that, some will be like the smart jailer above. When they see what will be, they’ll throw in with it for what they can get. Some will hold fast, stand, and give no ground; they will be ground up. Some useful idiots will attempt moderation only to find they must choose. Most will just hunker down and survive. Among these timid will be some who’ll remember that there is an ebb as well a flow to evil in the world. They mustn’t forget that Progressivism is a permanent part of human nature; that while beaten before and ascendant now, will fall again if only after centuries, but even beaten then, will always come back.
As Tolkien wrote: “Always after a defeat and respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.” so it will be with the struggle of Progressive and conservative. Wise survivors will be witnesses and will preserve the memory of freedom, honor, courage, character, and principle until a time when men have suffered enough, been enslaved for too long, and have gathered the will and determination to subversively weaken the Progressive machine to the point that, filled with the preserved virtues, a dedicated few can rise, and reignite the dream of self-government and sweep Progressives away to re-establish individual freedom and true equality of opportunity. If, for our time and circumstance, it is our fate to live under the building tyranny, we must build a catalogue of the signs of building tyranny for use in future times. We can also remember another Tolkien passage: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”