Guest Submission by J. Armstrong
Campaign ’12: Two leading presidential candidates wrap themselves in the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. TR was in some ways a decent leader, but the example of America’s first progressive president isn’t one to follow today.
In recent days, both GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich and President Obama have cited the same man as someone to emulate: Theodore Roosevelt.
While most Americans know Roosevelt for his hypermasculine, hard-charging leadership style, he was in fact a progressive — and, indeed, ran for president in 1912 on the Progressive Party ticket.
So we weren’t surprised when President Obama spoke Tuesday in Osawatomie, Kan., the same place where Teddy Roosevelt in 1910 called for a “New Nationalism” and a “Square Deal” in a landmark speech of modern progressivism and of activist, big government.
In his homage to TR, Obama called this a “make-or-break moment for the middle class.” He was, of course, again resorting to class warfare — a classic progressive ploy, used to great effect by TR and others.
In fact, the middle class has fared less well under Obama than under any other president since World War II. They’re the ones who’ll have to pay off the trillions of dollars in debt the government has piled up to pay for Obama’s failed stimulus and bailout schemes.
Symbolism aside, as Jonah Goldberg has noted, “Teddy’s New Nationalism was equal parts nationalism and socialism” — the antithesis of the American way.
This tells you a lot about Obama’s plans for his second term. He wants to take us further down the road to direct government control of the economy, in the name of “fairness” — another favorite progressive word.
Of course, that’s to be expected from Obama, the most radical president in our nation’s history. And that’s why we were disappointed to hear Gingrich also invoke the spirit, if not the deeds, of TR’s progressive ideology.
In comments made to Glenn Beck, Gingrich reaffirmed his claim to being a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican,” defending government subsidies, his support for expanded Medicare and his past support for action against climate change.
No, we don’t think TR was evil. He did some good things. But his progressive legacy isn’t one of them. Progressives laud TR’s “trust-busting,” excessive regulation of the economy, trashing of the Constitution and expansion of presidential power as progressive virtues.
As a matter of fact, the Progressive Movement, of which TR was avatar, turned into one of the most pernicious political movements in American history.
It championed race-based eugenics, weakened the U.S. Constitution, created the idea of the modern imperial presidency, and pushed government’s ever-expanding nose into both our private and business affairs to a degree not foreseen by our nation’s wise founders.
Is this our choice in 2012? Two flavors of progressivism, one Democrat, one Republican? We hope not. As it once was said, Americans deserve a choice, not an echo.