Ralph Benko

Possibly the most powerful, and dangerous, euphemism in politics today is “progressive.”

This writer has many cherished progressive friends. He considers them beautiful… but, often, misguided. Yet perhaps they are more “guided” than he has supposed.

Perhaps progressives, many of them, are precision guided. A pattern is emerging. That pattern is to assert government control over, well, everything. Government control … in the name of social and economic justice, of course.

There’s another word for this: totalitarian.


The New American Oxford Dictionary defines totalitarian as:

of or relating to a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state : a totalitarian regime.

a person advocating such a system of government.

Might this be the progressives’ precision-guided purpose?

The progressive flagship magazine, The Progressive, defines its mission:

winning back for the people the complete power over government —national, state, and municipal—which has been lost to them.” [LaFollette] attacked private greed in the form of corporate monopolies that hoarded power. He championed the public interest, campaigning for social and economic justice.

The stated ends (although by no means the means) of the progressive mission are identical to those of classical liberals, libertarians and principled conservatives: power of the people over government; opposition to corporate monopolies; in favor of the public interest; social and economic justice.

It was shrewd of the progressives to appropriate these values and gain prestige thereby. Yet the means — and the real outcomes — are as important as the stated ends. And the reigning progressive means now — one hopes temporarily (in a center right America) — are becoming an Orwellian creature.

The empirical progressive track record decidedly is mixed. Progressives enjoyed some noble victories (from which they drew, and to this day still draw, legitimacy). Foremost among these were securing women’s right to vote.

Many progressives, though, according to historian James H. Timberlake, supported Prohibition.

And, according to the scholarly Thomas C. Leonard, then Lecturer in Economics at Princeton University, they advocated racist (and anti-immigrant) eugenics.

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.

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