What Progressives Do (part one of two)
Take a look at this. Though it’s nearly 100 years old, it could have been written yesterday:
The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party, born of the nation’s sense of justice. We of the Progressive party here dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the duty laid upon us by our fathers to maintain the government of the people, by the people and for the people whose foundations they laid.
We hold with Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln that the people are the masters of their Constitution, to fulfill its purposes and to safeguard it from those who, by perversion of its intent, would convert it into an instrument of injustice. In accordance with the needs of each generation the people must use their sovereign powers to establish and maintain equal opportunity and industrial justice, to secure which this Government was founded and without which no republic can endure.
This country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Its resources, its business, its institutions and its laws should be utilized, maintained or altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest.
It is time to set the public welfare in the first place.
That’s the introduction to the Progressive Party Platform of 1912.
The Progressive Era was – by far – the most productive in our nation’s history in defining, advancing and securing the Social Contract. Seige is now being laid to that precious contract by corporatists disguised as candidates, looters held out as leaders – and an opportunist named Obama.
The Progressive Era flourished from the 1890s to 1920s. Then as now, true Progressives questioned and ultimately chastened the major parties which were complicit in the oppression of American families and workers. The same two parties which are complicit in that very oppresion today. Quoting again from the 1912 document:
THE OLD PARTIES
Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people.
From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.
To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
The deliberate betrayal of its trust by the Republican party, the fatal incapacity of the Democratic party to deal with the new issues of the new time, have compelled the people to forge a new instrument of government through which to give effect to their will in laws and institutions.
Unhampered by tradition, uncorrupted by power, undismayed by the magnitude of the task, the new party offers itself as the instrument of the people to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler commonwealth.
Liberals are fleeing from the “L word ” – who can blame them, based on their unconscionable abandonment of common people – and are doing their best to purloin the “progressive” label as their own.
We must stop them.
We’ll do it by creating a new voice for Progressivism (with a capital “P,” as distinct from the small “p” purloiners of the Progressive tradition).
As Progressives did then, so must we unite Americans who embrace non-intervention, industrial justice, environmental protection, equal access to education, and care of our youth, our aged and our downtrodden. As they did, we too can coalesce into a force which does not tolerate the lies told by both parties as they strive to protect the wealth of elites, and their own standing as the well-paid protectors of the elitist class.
In tomorrow’s second part of this diary, we’ll show the lengths to which “small p” progressives go in attempting to quash mounting public dissent – and disdain – for the Donkey and Elephant show which has enriched a tiny percentage of the populace at the expense of the rest of us.
In the meantime, I invite you to read the 1912 Progressive Party platform in its entirety. Alongside the platforms of other organizations engaged in the fight for justice for all Americans, it is one of the central resources through which the NPA’s Unified Progressive Platform of 2012 is being drafted. Look for the initial draft of this document – and please, provide your feedback on it – in mid-July at NewProgs.org.