Again I separate Progressivism from liberalism and the progressivism From Teddy Roosevelt in the early twentieth century all the way up through the 1950s up until John F. Kennedy is progressivism in it’s best form and classical form and I would argue in it’s only form. And the so-called Progressives of today that are part of the New-Left that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a response in favor of the civil-rights movement and the Great Society and of course against the Vietnam War, is a much different and more leftist movement.
People who tend to be against authority all together as it relates to law enforcement and national security and this movement got behind George McGovern for President in 1972 and Senator McGovern ran with them and lost in a landslide as a result. So these are people who are called Progressives today or ‘Modern-Liberals’, (a term I hate) but they aren’t either and I tend to call them Social Democrats or McGovern Democrats, but they aren’t liberal in the Jack Kennedy sense or any sense at least from my perspective because they are so far to the left on economic policy and so anti-authority and rule of law when it comes to law enforcement and national security.
One of the reasons why the death of President Kennedy was so tragic was for both political and ideological reasons from a Liberal’s perspective because the 1960s was the decade that brought so much economic as well as personal freedom to so many new Americans. With the tax cuts of the early 1960s and the civil-rights laws of the mid and late 1960s. And had Jack Kennedy survived and then been reelected in 1964 which of course we’ll never know, we probably are not involved in Vietnam the way we were.
At least not invading the country and President Kennedy probably moves much more cautiously in Vietnam and we probably would’ve played a more of a supportive role there and not invading North Vietnam. And trying to wipeout the Communists on our own. So the Democratic South could govern the country. But of course we’ll never know this. The 1960s was a great time for real Liberals not the New-Left because of the cultural revolution that brought so much freedom to new Americans as well as the economic freedom that came in that decade. But by the late 1960s because of Vietnam and the New-Left it was a bad time for the Democratic Party.
Both sides of the American political spectrum have their centers and their cores. And the fringes that sort of give the Left and Right bad names and make them look bad as if the entire Left and Right is like that. And that’s what we saw in the Left in America in the 1960s and 70s. Where the Left in America was no longer made up of Liberals and Progressives. But the New-Left emerged of people who I would call Socialist Anarchists. Or Occupy Wall Street people of today.
People who do not see America as a great country, but a force for bad in the World. And want to try to make the country like Europe even though Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson never wanted to go that far. And some people who call themselves FDR Democrats today do not even understand Franklin and just look up to him because of the New Deal. And see him as their vision for creating some type of European welfare state and finishing the job of the New Deal and Great Society.
But in the 1990s American-Liberalism made a comeback with Bill Clinton. And the McGovern wing of the Democratic Party was no longer in charge. And Clinton New Democrats were and the Democratic Party once again became about opportunity and freedom for all both economic and personal.
Rather than being about the welfare state and government-dependence. As well as a country that could not only defend itself, but would do what it took to defend itself without trying to govern the world. Bill Clinton brought American liberalism back to life and made it a governing-philosophy again and perhaps saved the Democratic Party as well.
Hoover Institution: Uncommon Knowledge- Peter Robinson Interviewing James Pierson: ‘The Rise & Fall of Liberalism’