Antonin Scalia

The Flawed Progressive Scheme to 'Reclaim the Constitution'

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Writing at The Washington Post, Yale University law professor Jack Balkin says it's time for liberals to "reclaim the Constitution." The modern right, Balkin contends, has hoodwinked much of the country into believing that the American constitutional tradition is the exclusive property of conservatives. In fact, Balkin asserts, "in some ways the radical conservative portrait of America promoted by today's tea party movement is almost an inversion of the country's actual history. It imagines a nation that never existed in order to attack the foundations of the one we actually have."

In Balkin's view, the constitutional tradition America actually has belongs squarely to the left. "The proudest moments of that tradition—including the expansion of voting rights and equality for blacks and women—are liberal and egalitarian," he declares.

Balkin's critique of the right is not without merit. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for example, has certainly been known to give short shrift to certain pieces of constitutional text and history. Nor is Scalia the only such offender on the conservative right.

But the trouble with Balkin's view is that he too is guilty of imagining a past that did not exist. For instance, to describe the struggle for racial equality as purely "liberal and egalitarian" ignores the fact that the avowedly "liberal and egalitarian" Progressive movement of the late-19th and early-20th centuries was largely hostile or indifferent to the plight of African Americans. Indeed, throughout the era of Jim Crow, Progressive egalitarianism went hand-in-hand with white supremacy at all levels of government. In effect, those Progressives wanted a welfare state for whites only. And for the most part they got what they wanted.

At the same time, classical liberalism—which ranks individualism above egalitarianism—was undeniably a guiding light for many prominent civil rights leaders, including Frederick Douglass, NAACP co-founder Moorfield Storey, and the indomitable Mississippi freedom fighter T.R.M. Howard. Such figures—whose views on issues such as property rights and armed self-defense now sound downright libertarian—simply do not conform to Balkin's tidy tale of left-wing uplift.

Meanwhile, in terms of women's rights, the senator who introduced the legislation (originally drafted by Susan B. Anthony) that became the Nineteenth Amendment, which established female suffrage, was none other than future Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland. In the 1930s, Sutherland would be denounced by the left as one of the Supreme Court's "Four Horsemen," the pejorative given to the four-member bloc of justices who regularly voted against Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. To say the least, Sutherland's record also refuses to fit comfortably inside Balkin's tale.

In truth, the American constitutional tradition contains liberal, conservative, and libertarian elements. Balkin's error lies in trying to shoehorn the whole thing into his preferred progressive narrative.

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  1. Balkin’s error lies in trying to shoehorn the whole thing into his preferred progressive narrative.

    Somewhere, a dog barked.

    1. That’s not his only error.

    2. Was there not a cop around to shoot it?

  2. Simon LeGree’s flawed effort to reclaim his escaped slaves.

  3. Progressive movement of the late-19th and early-20th centuries was largely hostile or indifferent to the plight of African Americans. Indeed, throughout the era of Jim Crow, Progressive egalitarianism went hand-in-hand with white supremacy at all levels of government. In effect, those Progressives wanted a welfare state for whites only. And for the most part they got what they wanted.

    They also gave us world war to go along w/ their racism.

  4. We need to just stop using the word “liberal”. Its been hopelessly corrupted, and now means (at least) two opposite things: Total State “progressivism” and classical liberalism.

    Sadly, substituting “progressive” for “liberal” in this sentence doesn’t make it false:

    In truth, the American constitutional tradition contains liberal progressive, conservative, and libertarian elements.

    The “Constitutional tradition” is mostly SCOTUS decisions, and SCOTUS has been an enthusiastic supporter of the progressive Total State for at least two generations. In spite of the fact that the progressive Total State is completely unauthorized by Constitutional text.

      1. Alright, call it three generations, at 30 years per. I said “at least”, you know.

        1. Hmmm.

          I was under the impression that a Generation was 20 years. That’s what my father (public school teacher) had taught me.

          I just Googled it and it is defined as anywhere between 20 and 30.

          I wonder what other shit I was taught incorrectly.

          1. “I wonder what other shit I was taught incorrectly.”

            Your gender identity, and privilege status..

          2. Careful what you tell your kids. They remember.

      2. Hey, some of our families have long generations.

      3. Hey, some of our families have long generations.

  5. …the avowedly “liberal and egalitarian” Progressive movement of the late-19th and early-20th centuries was largely hostile or indifferent to the plight of African Americans.

    Everyone knows no matter how far back in the country’s history you’re looking, you’re not to look at the left any earlier than LBJ. (And don’t look too hard at him.)

  6. Where would this guy fit the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union? Are they bona fide progressives?

    On the one hand, the were for woman’s suffrage and other causes which modern progressives would love to be associated.

    On the other hand they were prohibitionists, they wanted to Americanize the immigrants, and of course there’s that whole militantly evangelical Protestant thing.

    http://www.pbs.org/stantonanth…..rance.html

    So do they get condescendingly recognized as proto-feminists who did not fully shake off their patriarchal theocratic tendencies?

    1. Of course not. Silly peasant! You’re obviously too stupid to understand that, like the Constitution, Progressivism is a living ideology.[/sarcasm]

    2. Progressives of 100 years ago: “We demand things be tested on animals!”

      Progressives today: “We demand an end to animal testing!”

      1. Any change can be said to be “progress”, so yeah.

    3. Yup and Margaret Sanger was a supporter of eugenics which is why she thought birth control was so important.

      I also love reading the quotes about how disgusted the suffragettes were that lowly black men got the vote before they did.

  7. In other words, “We won, so STFU.”

  8. “Second, to better understand how the Constitution actually grows and develops, liberal scholars have turned away from the courts and judicial review ? now the focus of conservative obsession ? and toward the work of ordinary citizens and political movements. The heart of the American constitutional tradition lies in these mobilizations, which have changed the constitutional common sense of the nation and made us the country we are today.”

    This after denouncing the Tea Party, a political movement of ordinary citizens. Yeah, it’s the Tea Party and other conservative groups which are obsessed with the courts, and it’s the progs who bypass the courts and rely on popular mobilizations.

    He just thinks he can drop reality down the memory hold and hope nobody is rude enough to mention it.

    To give what for me is perhaps a predictable example, the prolife movement is a movement of ordinary citizens who reject the decisions of the Supreme Court and try to overturn them in the political process. But that isn’t a *real* popular moblilization, it’s an insidious right-wing theocratic assault on judicial independence.

    1. Prolife movement? You mean like Code Pink and Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International and the NCADP?

      Seems weird to lump them all together into one “movement” but whatevs.

      1. If you’re referring to the death penalty, fine, we can get into that, though I’m not sure if I support it or not, you might want to ask someone who’s more enthusiastic about it.

        In any case, my point stands – the *anti-abortion* movement is an example of non-progs mobilizing in a popular movement.

        1. No society can ever be truly civilized without a well thought out death penalty.

  9. “In their work on The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution, Texas law professors Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath have shown that there is a deep tradition of constitutional thought from the founding to the 20th century that is opposed to economic oligarchy and to government policies that entrench vast inequalities of wealth. ”

    Right, that’s why the progressive movement opposed monopolistic laws, and it was conservatives who would allow such laws on the state level on the risible excuse that “a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

    Those wicked conservatives, supporting monopolistic legislation on the grounds that the government should experiment with the liberties of the people!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N……_Liebmann

    1. Justice Brandeis’ dissenting opinion in New State Ice Company v. Liebman – a dramatic reading by Robert Van Winkle –

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rog8ou-ZepE

    2. there is a deep tradition of constitutional thought from the founding to the 20th century that is opposed to economic oligarchy and to government policies that entrench vast inequalities of wealth

      That’s nice. And so long as they get their opposition enshrined in amendments, I can’t argue that this would be in line with the Constitution.

      But, as written, this is just more living Constitution bullshit. “We wish the Constitution said this, therefor, that’s what the Constitution really means.”

    3. Here’s the thing: Progs are freaked that all the “gains” of the last, say, 100 years might (gasp!) be reversible. In their minds, there must be a one-way ratchet in the direction of more and more “positive” freedoms courtesy of the all-wise and ever-benevolent federal leviathan.

  10. Rhetorical question – why does the left like to ignore the role religious groups played in the suffrage movement?

    The modern progressive movement is closer to Marxism than it is classical liberalism. The left has bastardized history along with a number of the words they have stolen. Egalitarian doesn’t mean what they want it to mean (the right to free shit).

    The most twisted movements of the 20th century came from the intellectual left and ‘progressivism.’

    1. The modern progressive movement is closer to Marxism than it is deeply opposed to classical liberalism.

    2. Rhetorical question – why does the left like to ignore the role religious groups played in the suffrage movement?

      And the abolitionist movement, as I mentioned below.

      Neither of those movements were actually leftist, they’ve just been co-opted by moronic progressives who don’t know history.

      1. I think the idea comes from the idea that the abolitionists wanted a radical change in the institutions of their time and therefore were ‘radical,’ ‘liberal, ‘progressive’ while those who wanted the institutions to stay the way they had been for a long time were for ‘conserving’ these ways and therefore ‘conservative.’

        In a similar way Soviets that resisted Gorbachev’s reforms were referred to as ‘conservatives.’

        1. What I’m really seeing here is that progressives/socialists stole the word liberal, and that people in the United States have reduced political thought down to a clear cut conservative/liberal (or right/left).

        2. …which is of course stupid as a way of classifying political ideology, if your intent is to say something of salience regarding contemporary American politics.

          I mean, under that classification rubric:

          Radicals == American abolitionists, NSDAP, the Decembrists, Bolsheviks, Guy Fawkes, Ayatollah Khomeini, ISIS

          Conservatives == Ba’ath Party in Syria, PRI in Mexico, Tories, Indian socialists, Afrikaaners, Tokugawa Japan, Calvin Coolidge

          What the fuck any of these people or groups have to do with each other outside the narrow point that they were against some of their institutions as they stood, is beyond me. (Abolitionists in particular fit into this rubric poorly; most of the Northern states had already criminalized slavery and most abolitionists wanted a democratic, gradualist resolution to slavery. The movement was about as radical as the pro-life movement is today.)

          1. If conservatism is not about ‘conserving’ traditional ways and institutions then it kind of picked an odd label…

            1. I never decided to call myself a conservative. It’s just the label other people are comfortable giving to my ideology. The term itself, as pointed out above, is applied too broadly to have any meaning. Same with liberalism.

              Words have different labels depending on time and place. The abolition movement wasn’t inherently left or right wing the way it’s understood today. It was a collection of various groups who opposed slavery. That was the common component.

            2. On the other hand it is possible to view it as conserving the very radical notions that went into the foundation of America. Progressives are a return to the government of the past, with a few of the pieces in new places and some title changes. It is very much a lord-serf ideology. Modern “conservatives” are generally just watered down progressives, but as an idea conserving the gains of liberty against the constant and eternal encroachment of government is not a bad one.

            3. …which has fuck-all to do with the point I make.

              “Conservative” traditions must be analyzed in the context of their societies, the traditions within such, and their cosmovision (including their idealized past and idealized future). It is retarded to look at a tribal movement in Africa and a pro-USSR movement in Russia labelled “conservative”, and therefore conclude that American conservatives are in favor of worshipping Nyame whilst creating a Stalinist economy through forced collectivization.

              And as I said before, the abolitionist movement was not particularly radical in its aspirations. There was no attempt to completely reforge society; in fact there was very little consensus among abolitionists outside their narrow issue, which is why a Democrat like Johnson was able to win the Presidency after Lincoln.

              1. “why a Democrat like Johnson was able to win the Presidency after Lincoln.”

                Johnson never won the Presidency, genius.

                1. You’re right, Bo. I fucked up on that; my mistake. And yet, my point about abolitionists being disorganized still stands, as a cursory review of the history of that period will reveal.

                  It’s your dedication to ferreting out minor trivia whilst ignoring the greater point which has made you so popular on this board.

                  1. Well, let’s stick to the greater point: the abolitionists were certainly advocating something radical: ending an institution that had permeated much of our nation for much of its history. The Confederacy, and other political groups of the day, understood how radical their goals were.

                    I mean, did you forget the ascendant abolitionist minded Republicans were called the…Radical Republicans in your Reconstruction amnesia?

                    1. Again you avoid my point about labels like “radical” and “conservative”. Radical Republicans were radical in the same sense as “extreme” pro-lifers today: they favored a change on one issue of importance which was mostly resolved in the North by the time of the Civil War, but had little unity around any sort of national program beyond that or even what to do with the ex-slaves.

                      By adding the equivalent of single-issue SoCons to the rubric of “radical”, one devalues the term more than you and progressives already have by supposing that all “change” movements deserve it and that these movements’ accomplishments should be transferred over as part of a “radical” political tradition.

                    2. “By adding the equivalent of single-issue SoCons to the rubric of “radical”, one devalues the term”

                      Goodness.

                      First, it’s entertaining to see you paint abolitionists who wanted to end an economic and social system that so defined much of this nation at the time that that part felt it had to break off to protect it from them as ‘nothing to see here, just single issue movement.’

                      Secondly, you ignore the considerable overlap of other movements for ‘radical’ change that overlapped abolition (womens rights, temperance, animal welfare, etc).

                      Read any book from that era that mentions abolitionists IT, they were considered radicals by most people back then for good reason.

                    3. Well, let’s stick to the greater point: the abolitionists were certainly advocating something radical: ending an institution that had permeated much of our nation for much of its history.

                      Racist slavery was a radical departure from English common law, that had existed in America for only 150 years or so at the time of the civil war. It was not some ancient institution for people of English heritage and was not practiced in Britain or any colony.

                  2. Another example of someone admitting they were incorrect. See Bo, not so hard. And we all still like/respect TIT.

                    1. Francisco, I admit I’m incorrect a lot, I’ve just honestly never had that opportunity when debating with you.

                    2. I admit I’m incorrect a lot

                      [citation required]

        3. “radical” and “progressive” are synonyms only in the mind of the ignorant.

          1. Well, liberal has a long standing definition meaning ‘open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values’, which, if you think its important to conserve old ways and behaviors, will seem quite ‘radical’ to you.

            I think what happened was that for a long time in the Anglo-American tradition people pushing for ‘radical’ reforms were usually pushing for the kind of reforms libertarians could embrace, so the word correctly denoted ‘people pushing social and political reform’ and ‘people pushing for repeal of coercive government measures.’ But at some point those pushing for social and political change started pushing for them via coercive state measures and we got a linguistic muddle.

            1. That’s true, but people also use the phrase “radical fundamentalist” all the time to describe extremely traditionalist/nationalist groups (e.g., al-Qaeda and the like). One can be a radical progressive and wish to pluck society from its very roots and remake it or one can be a radical conservative and wish to whittle down society to its original root. The term “radical” is best placed in opposition to “moderate” or “centrist”.

            2. But at some point those pushing for social and political change started pushing for them via coercive state measures and we got a linguistic muddle.

              Crazy how that seemed to correspond with the spread of Marxist ideology. So, I’ll go back to what I said – ‘progressives’ stole the word liberal, and groups like libertarians were cast with the right wing label. Which somehow denotes conservatism even though a number of right wing movements weren’t even conservative.

              Nazi ideology was a lot of things, but it wasn’t conservative. It was revolutionary in nature.

              I’d rather stick with hard facts than have an argument over semantics. That’s the game being played in the article in the Washington Post.

            3. liberal has a long standing definition meaning ‘open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values’

              In a political sense, not so much. Liberals and socialists were at loggerheads for most of the 19th century, and certainly socialism would have been a ‘new behavior or opinion’ in the context of that society. Political liberals (especially within the Anglo-American tradition) supported free markets, industrialization, and a restrained government.

              I realize that as a lawyer it is important for you to make rhetorical hash out of language, but do try to keep up with what the rest of us already know.

              1. “but do try to keep up with what the rest of us already know.”

                Like Andrew Johnson’s stunning election campaign?

              2. “supported free markets, industrialization, and a restrained government.”

                Even this is simplistic. Where did the champions of industrialization stand on tariffs, for example?

                1. Where did the champions of industrialization stand on tariffs, for example?

                  Not a monolith. There were free-trade and mercantilist arguments supportive of industrialization.

                  1. That’s my point: defining political philosophies like ‘liberals’ by reference to specific stances took, rather than by more general tendencies (like to ‘conserve’ things) is problematic.

                    1. Bo, your definition is retarded. By the 19th century, liberalism was clearly defined as those things I noted. During the 18th, they certainly acquired that reputation (even if it was not as well-defined). In the US, at least, tariffs were merely the funding mechanism for USG which was least controversial; some agreed with it on merchantilist grounds, and about as many agreed with to fund the federal government with the Smithean reservations about the cost to economy. It is obvious that this is the case by examining tariffs as a whole, which went down during the time which is broadly considered “liberal”, and which were reimposed after illiberal movements gained purchase in Europe and the US.

                      That specific individuals or movements within the tradition were not consistently liberal is irrelevant, just as it is not necessary for Mike Huckabee or Rand Paul to agree to all the tenets of economic and social conservative to fit within the broad tradition of American conservatism. Defining political liberalism as broadly as you do includes within the definition movements to which it was fiercely opposed (such as socialism).

                    2. IT, I think I might where we are missing each other.

                      I’m talking about how the word liberal is broadly understood by people. I gave a dictionary definition, and that definition explains why people apply the term to classical liberals and socialists.

                      I think you’re arguing ‘that’s a silly definition.’ Maybe you are right (I’m not sure yours works well either, but lets agree to disagree there), but my point is that the confusion many seem to have in equating socialists and libertarians can be explained by the fact that the most common definition of the word ‘liberal’ is a broad one meaning ‘open to change and new behavior.’

      2. Yes it’s always fun to point out that Lincoln was a Republican and that the Democrats were pro-slavery.

    3. This us why I want progressives wiped out. They are pretty much Marxist traitors at this point. In the old days they souks be imprisoned or shot.

      I miss the old days.

  11. …”The modern right, Balkin contends, has hoodwinked much of the country into believing that the American constitutional tradition is the exclusive property of conservatives.”…

    Wrong.
    The modern left has abandoned the principles which underpin the Constitution.

    1. Yeah, it’s like one team forfeits the game, then accuses the other team of cheating.

    2. I will agree, to some extent, that conservatives have no better claim to Constitutional backing than the progs.

      Both support a Total State. They just differ at the margins.

      At this point, the only political movement that I think has any Consitutional support is libertarians.

  12. Also, the abolitionist movement was led largely by middle class New Englanders who were closer to libertarians or sometimes religious conservatives than modern leftists. A lot of them were extreme religious fanatics who hated slavery because it was opposed to their religious views.

    From a book I’m reading called ‘Lincoln Reconsidered’ which is a series of essays about the Civil War:

    Many of the most important anti-slavery leaders fell under the influence of Charles Grandison Finney, whose revivalism set rural New York and the Western Reserve ablaze w/ religious fervor and evoked ‘Wonderful outpourings of the Holy Spirit’ throughout the north.

    Also:

    Reformers though they were, they were men of conservative economic views. Living ain an age of growing industrialization, of tenement congestion, of sweatshop oppression, not one of them can properly be identified witht he labor movement of the 1830’s. Most would agree with Garrison who denounced labor leaders for trying ‘to inflame the minds of our working classes against the more opulent, and to persuade men that they were contemned and oppressed by a wealthy aristocracy.’

    So the greatest example of the expansion of constitutional rights, the abolition of slavery, was carried out by anti-union religious fanatics. It’s hilarious trying to watch progressives claim that things like the end of slavery were carried out by leftists.

    1. Also, the abolitionist movement was led largely by middle class New Englanders who were closer to libertarians

      Somewhere in Auburn, Alabama, milk has begun to spontaneously spoil, the moon has turn blood red while the seas boil as dead fish wash ashore, cats and dogs have begun to whine and whimper with the premonition that something is wrong. Something is very wrong.

      1. Lysander Spooner on slavery:

        Now a slave is not ‘held’ by any legal contract, obligation, duty, or authority, which the laws will enforce. He is ‘held’ only by brute force. One person beats another until the latter will obey him, work for him, if he require it, or do nothing if he require it.

        I find it completely disgusting that leftists are always retroactively declaring that they were the driving force behind various movements that leftists didn’t actually have anything to do with. Basically Anything Good is deemed to be caused by progressives even if the progressives of the time were against it.

        1. Remember: only words matter. Actions mean nothing. Progressives say the right words. Their actions in the past? Meaningless. This is how they can co-opt entire historical movements as their own. Because the words are right. The actions of their fellow travelers at the time? Totally irrelevant.

        2. I find it completely disgusting that leftists are always retroactively declaring that they were the driving force behind various movements that leftists didn’t actually have anything to do with.

          Not unlike the government always running to the front of the parade.

        3. The ‘De-StalinizationProgressivation’ of future history books will be a sight to behold..

    2. Popular with many (white) labor activists – “The Factory Girl’s Last Day,” by Michael Sadler (1832)

      That night a chariot passed her,
      While on the ground she lay;
      The daughers of her master
      An evening visit pay:
      Their tender hearts were sighing,
      As negro wrongs were told,
      While the white slave lay dying
      Who gained their father’s gold!

  13. “Reclaim the Constitution”

    And *then what*? Throw it into the fires of Mount Doom?

    1. *1 severed finger.

  14. Balkin publishes the legal blog, Balkinization

    The irony!

    Still, I don’t know why Balkin, who was fighting the good fight concerning civil liberties vis-a-vis the NSA and other tentacles of Big Intel before it was cool (the pre-Snowden days), wants to give the crypto-Fascists free access to dissolve the very legal foundations upon which that fight is fought.

  15. The liberal narrative is the only one worth a shit. Sure, they’ve always had competition with people who didn’t want equality for women and minorities, but this article fails to explain, and I struggle to think of, successes by libertarians and conservatives that were actually good for anybody.

    1. The liberal narrative involves cherry picking and applying modern labels to the past when convenient even when wholly inappropriate.

      The achievements you ascribe to ‘liberalism’ (in this case, you really mean progressivism) don’t belong to the modern left. That’s the point you so clearly missed.

      1. In many cases different ‘progressive’ groups were actively opposed to the changes modern progressives claim to be part of the progressive tradition.

        See: Chicago Union members beating up workers at the Chicago World fair in 1893 because the mean old fair organizers hired blacks and Italian immigrants instead of good old Chicago Union thugs.

        See: Most of the opposition to the British slave trade coming from proto-libertarian classical liberals like David Hume and Lord Acton while the British labor movement frankly didn’t give a shit.

        1. I didn’t know Lord Acton was against and played a part in fighting the slave trade.

          1. Fuck, you’re right. Acton wasn’t an abolitionist.

            This is what happens when you assume…

            1. Adam Smith was anti-slavery though! Replace Acton with Smith and the point stands.

              1. “Replace Acton with Smith”

                Always happy to do that!

                1. And this, is a textbook example, of admitting you were wrong.

              2. Or Thomas Muthafuckin Paine.

                1. I love T-Paine, even though he got the wool pulled over his eyes when it came to the French Revolution.

                  Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.

                  Thomas Paine also had a pretty Goldwater-esque quote that I’ve always liked:

                  A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.

            2. Voltaire was a crazy motherfucking racist though, so it’s not like everyone on our side is pristine either. He was anti-slavery, but man did he hate black people.

              The difference between myself and progs is that I can admit when people on my ‘side’ held horrible views, whereas progressive just pretend such views never existed.

              1. The thing about being a liberal is that you are free to trace your intellectual heritage through ideas rather than people or parties. If someone was a racist asshole in the past but had otherwise good ideas, I am comfortable rejecting the racism and embracing everything else. The specific positions of liberalism change with time. All that it takes is to be at the forefront of individual and minority rights and liberty. Libertarians would be right beside us if they hadn’t gotten hung up on the stupid and pointless idea that taxing billionaires is the most egregious abuse of liberty in the world and the only one worth paying attention to.

                1. And liberals would have been right beside US if they hadn’t decided to toss individual liberty out the window in favor of government-enforced economic equality.

                2. right, so in other words, you can just magically claim any historical ideas as your own and having always been representative of “what your side believes”, regardless of WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED

                  by that logic ANYONE could claim to be part of the most progressive movement ever.

                  Why do you get to claim all good stuff but neither libertarians nor conservatives can?

                  Again, what ACTUALLY HAPPENED historically was very different

                  I think what’s more salient is what people believe now. For example, you just claimed you care about individual rights, when in fact that’s A BLATANT LIE, you want to subjugate EVERYONE under some uber-state, and you could only do that by ignoring THE BUDGET. That’s a much more descriptive and useful piece of information

        2. …”the British labor movement frankly didn’t give a shit.”

          The American unions were not at all pleased to see Blacks arriving in the northern industrial cities; they could easily do the work the unions had ‘protected’ at lower labor costs.
          And the unions were lilly-white for a loooong time.

          1. Always ignored. The labor movement was violently racist.

            The legacy of that is still seen today. The left likes to pretend that places like Boston aren’t filled with racists. It’s just a Southern thing…

            1. The left likes to pretend that places like Boston aren’t filled with racists.

              See NEPA.

            2. “The labor movement was violently racist.”

              Like Philip Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters?

              1. And on the other hand, the workers of Homestead beating the shit out of Pinkerton guards.

                1. Grand Moff Serious Man|7.19.14 @ 12:41PM|#
                  “And on the other hand, the workers of Homestead beating the shit out of Pinkerton guards.”

                  It takes an outright dismissal of history for the left or the labor unions to cast this as anything other than union thugs on a rampage.
                  And they had already threatened the lowest-paid workers into at least staying away; no way were the thugs gonna get support from them.

              2. I think there was about a sixty year span between slaves being freed and heading north and the Porters getting their union charter recognized (if I’m to believe Wikipedia).

                But thanks for forcing me to look something up, learned something new today.

                1. My overall point by that example is simply this: beware overgeneralizations. I’m sure many unions were rife with racism, just like I imagine the Army was rife with it, churches were rife with it, and on and on. But some unions were not bad towards blacks, and some unions were blacks, so overgeneralizing serves little purpose.

                  1. Agreed

          2. The only gloss I would put on this is:

            Don’t underestimate racism in unions today.

            1. Agreed. The very nature of organizations like unions fosters a resentment or dislike of those outside the organization which easily manifests itself in racism that might be ‘laying around’ as it were.

              1. Laying around?

                I live and work in Brooklyn. I know a shit ton of union workers. Theyre racist as fuck. It’s a fucking clubhouse, nothing more.

      2. This.

        The modern progressive movement isn’t about equal rights for women and minorities, it’s about organizing women and minorities to secure as much loot for themselves from the federal treasury as possible.

        It’s all about saying “Hey you! You need to think of your self as defined by your race/sex/sexual orientation so you can go form a monolithic lobbying group and petition congress to get some free shit for YOUR KIND.”

        It’s all about forcing people into this mindset where they are told they have to defend and fight for the interests of their racial/sexual identity group and they should think of themselves primarily of members of a race/sex based group. Not as individuals with many varying interests, of which race and sex is just a trivial component.

        The Democrats are all like NO, you need to fight for WOMEN! You need to fight for BLACKS! Because your a woman, you should always be thinking about what’s in the interests of WOMEN!

        Instead of (say) actually trying to work towards a system universal equal rights. It’s just about getting the most rights for YOUR GROUP.

        1. AMEN! Sing it Hazel.

          Create an aggrieved group. Give aggrieved group free shit in exchange for power.

          1. What ‘aggrieved group’ do they have to ‘create?’ I’m afraid American history (like that before 1933 that you seem to have no problem with) did more than enough to make women, blacks or gays, for example, to feel ‘aggrieved’ for several generations. I wouldn’t blame that on our modern day liberals.

            1. I’ll include the proper adjectives in the future. All of Boston isn’t and wasn’t racist, obviously. Neither were all unions. Fair point.

              1. I’m pretty sure that all of Boston is all unions, though.

                Why do you think the Big Dig took, like, 300 years?

            2. Fishing for an argument, again, I see.

              Nope. Not gonna play with you Bo.

              I’d have thought, after last night, you’d be argued out.

              1. “Nope. Not gonna play with you Bo”

                Yep. Sophistry and picked data gets tired real quick.

            3. The idea that anyone should feel aggrieved for anything that happened several generations ago is, well, un-American, Bo.

              Not to mention irrational.

              1. On the other hand it’s totally relevant that progressives in the 19th century didn’t have 21st century attitudes toward race.

                Conservatives are better because they’ve been consistently racist the entire time, I suppose.

                1. Troll Grade: F

                  Comments: Next time put more effort into your fallacious argumentation. Pouting and mumbling an “Nuh-uh! You are!” is evidence of an overall lack of effort on your part. Also, please visit one of the writing workshops on campus to assist you in presenting a clear and rhetorically effective argument through well-constructed paragraphs.

                  1. Only because there is no F-

                2. Tony|7.19.14 @ 1:40PM|#
                  “On the other hand it’s totally relevant that progressives in the 19th century didn’t have 21st century attitudes toward race.”

                  So the left’s racism isn’t new?

                3. No, you and your kind are the racists. Just like your Klan ancestors that ran the Dem party.

            4. American history … did more than enough to make women… feel ‘aggrieved’ for several generations.

              Seriously?

              I daresay that women had FAR more rights in pre-1933 America than they did in most of the rest of the world for the rest of human history.

              Jesus fuck, for most of world history, women were chattel property of their husbands and fathers.

              America was a vast fucking step forward for everyone, women and men included.
              The eventual extension of voting right to women was a natural progression of a continuous trend that America started.

    2. Tony|7.19.14 @ 11:49AM|#
      “The liberal narrative is the only one worth a shit.”

      Yes, it truly is shitty; no argument here. Thuggish coercion is shitty. Limiting speech is shitty. Stealing people’s property is shitty.
      Shitty one end to the other, including the shitty lumps of protoplasm supporting it.

    3. Thanks, Tony. We can always count on you to be the perfect caricature of the progressive left.

      1. Its such a perfect caricature that I sometimes wonder if it isn’t too perfect, and we are bit players in the longest-running highest-quality troll job of all time.

        1. in the longest-running highest-quality troll job of all time.

          Mmm. My money is still on Ann Coulter.

          1. No, it’s Kirk Cameron, the day is coming where he declares that this whole washed in the blood of the lamb thing was a big piece of meta theater.

        2. You’re just figuring this out now? The dead giveaway that it’s a sockpuppet is the perfection of the caricature. It’s been obvious since day one. But so many of you just couldn’t resist the siren song, because it pushed your buttons just oh so perfectly.

          You should really keep wondering, because you’re finally on to it.

          1. I’ve never seen you in the same room as Tony, Epi.

            Except in the sex tape, of course.

          2. Well, I’ve met real-life Tony’s. I’ve seen people develop into Tony’s. They are, unfortunately, real.

          3. I must admit, Epi, you have the willpower of an ex-smoker.

            Still not sure I buy the sock theory, but you certainly walk it like you talk it.

            1. Epi is not remotely interested in engaging ideas that he doesn’t agree with. He is the world’s foremost expert on everything already, so why bother?

              1. Tony|7.19.14 @ 1:41PM|#
                “Epi is not remotely interested in engaging ideas that he doesn’t agree with.”

                So you keep hoping some of your bullshit gets recognized by Epi?
                Gee, what a disappointment.

              2. Said Tony without a hint of self-awareness.

                1. Said Tony who spends entirely too much time talking to people he doesn’t agree with…

              3. Yes, others must seem that way to an individual, such as yourself. You try pulpy are a turd amongst gods.

    4. The Glorious Revolution? The American Revolution? Toryism in Canada? The Congress of Vienna? Peru’s elimination of the Shining Path? The Meiji Restoration? Return To Normalcy?

      I can go on…

    5. Nothing says Constitutional principles like throwing war protesters in prison, ethnic minorities in camps, free speech zones, gun-free zones, eugenics, eminent domain, racial preferences, protectionist regulations, price and wage controls, forced unionization, and executing citizens without trial.

      It’s obvious to anyone who has studied history that the Founders were cool with all of that, they were just too lazy to write it in the original document. Thankfully progressives came along to make up for these omissions.

      1. Tony is ok with all of the things you listed. Up against the wall for you.

        1. Rat-tat-tat!..

    6. The liberal narrative is the only one worth a shit.

      I suppose it is for anyone who doesn’t care about liberty and thinks it’s okay to steal.

      1. I like that Tony got the shit kicked out of him in this thread and just vanished.

        In addition to being a moron, he’s a total coward.

    7. The liberal narrative is the only one worth a shit.

      Sure, the progs tell a good story, about how they have always been on the Right Side of History.

      Too bad it isn’t true.

      1. When FDR unilaterally sent the Japanese to concentration camps via executive order and then the progressives on the court backed him up, that in no way was a bad aspect of progressive ideology.

        Similarly, when that fascist shithead Woodrow Wilson threw anti-war protesters in prison, segregated the Civil Service, and declared that Birth of a Nation was ‘history written with lightning,’ all while being a progressive hero, that did not reflect badly on the progressive movement at all.

        Also, here’s a response from Calvin Coolidge to a letter he received from a KKK member:

        During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it. ?They took their places wherever assigned in defense of the nation of which they are just as truly citizens as are any others. Th?e suggestion of denying any measure of their full political rights to such a great group of our population as the colored people is one which, however it might be received in some other quarters, could not possibly be permitted by one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color, I have taken my oath to support that Constitution.

        Yeah, clearly the left-wing view in which a racist scumbag like Wilson is great and Coolidge is evil is the only valid one.

        1. They’ll also never acknowledge that FDR sold out the cause of African-American rights in order to form his New Deal coalition with Southern Jim Crow Democrats.

          Guys like Bull Connor were New Deal supporters that got elected on pro-union populist platforms.

          Hell, even Jesse Owens recalled that FDR totally snubbed him after the 1936 Olympics and that Hitler showed him more courtesy and respect.

          1. Ouch. That’s one right in the legacy!

          2. “Hell, even Jesse Owens recalled that FDR totally snubbed him after the 1936 Olympics and that Hitler showed him more courtesy and respect.”

            I’m not challenging the veracity of the claim, but I ‘am curious about the source.

            1. Me too. Got ok entry of progtard acquaintances whose noses I would like to rub that one into.

            2. These are Jesse Owens’ own words. In this link to a vintage newspaper article he notes that Hitler acknowledge him with a wave when they passed each other at the Olympic stadium in Berlin.

              And he was quoted as saying:

              “Hitler didn’t snub me ? it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”

              Owens was a Republican that campaigned for Alf Landon in 1936.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J…..n_Olympics

              1. Thank you.

              2. Great story, thanks.

    8. Women’s suffrage and ending slavery are not “good for anybody”?

      How about some of the progressive accomplishments that were NOT “good for anybody” like, say, prohibition? Or eugenics? Or maybe the Jim Crow laws and separate-but-equal?

      You need to go elsewhere, Tony, if you want to push your leftist rewrite of history.

    9. Milton Freedman’s role in ending the draft in the US comes to mind.

    10. I was wondering when you would come out from under your rock. Here come the lies.

  16. The proudest moments of that tradition?including the expansion of voting rights and equality for blacks and women?are liberal and egalitarian

    Since those are so controversial among conservatives today…

  17. Sutherland was an interesting figure and from his Wikipedia entry a stellar example of how difficult it is to shoehorn historical figures into our contemporary political labels.

    “Sutherland’s tenure in the Senate coincided with the Progressive Era in American politics. He voted for much of Theodore Roosevelt’ s legislative program, including the Pure Food and Drug Act, the Hepburn Act, and the Federal Employers Liability Act. He was also “a longstanding women’s rights advocate. He introduced the Nineteenth Amendment into the Senate . . . campaigned for the passage of that amendment, helped draft the Equal Rights Amendment…Sutherland wrote a decision refusing to declare unconstitutional a local zoning ordinance, in Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.. The decision was widely interpreted as a general endorsement of the constitutionality of zoning laws.

    During Franklin Roosevelt’s early years in office as president, Justice Sutherland along with James Clark McReynolds, Pierce Butler and Willis Van Devanter, was part of the conservative Four Horsemen, who were instrumental in striking down Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. Sutherland was regarded as the leader of this conservative bloc of judges as well…Important decisions authored by Sutherland include the 1932 case Powell v. Alabama, overturning a conviction in the Scottsboro Boys Case because the defendant, Ozie Powell, was deprived of his right to counsel”

    1. I also find Justice John Marshall Harlan interesting as well. He was most famous for dissenting in the Civil Rights Cases and Plessy v Ferguson and arguing in favor of a color-blind Constitution.

      Then he went and said this:

      “There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States…. I allude to the Chinese race.”

  18. Aside from the fact that the modern progressive movement is neither particularly liberal, nor particularly egalitarian anymore. It is really more about securing the maximum amount of federal privileges possible for a core cluster of race, sex, and class-based identity groups.

    Is it “liberal” to compel religious conservatives to act against their beliefs so that a few women can get free contraceptives rather than pay out of pocket?
    Is it “egalitarian” to protect unionized teachers at the expense of poor children’s education?

    The majority of what they do is lobby to secure more free shit and more benefits for themselves. At the expense of society as a whole.

    1. You’re right! this ws a far better country before those librals started taking everything that belonged by right to god-fearng white americans and giving it to those worthles black people. the blacks should have been hapy they were allowed in this country in the first place but no thy just demand more and more.

        1. For real?

          Don’t think so. The spelling errors appear intentional.

          1. Epi, making a point about sockpuppetry?

      1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh man, this guy clearly didn’t read any of the points about the racists in the labor movement and the progressive movement throughout its history.

        Here, check out the decline in poverty rates before the Great Society and the way the decline immediately stopped after the great society was implemented.

        The poverty rate plummeted from 23% to 14% in the early ’60s. Since then, it’s basically lurched back and forth between 11% and 14% without having any sort of long term drop. Over the period of time in which poverty rates stopped falling, we created food stamps, head start, and a whole host of other welfare programs which have had no positive impact whatsoever on poor people in this country and has, in fact, put them in a cycle of government dependency and poverty.

        The best part is the total lack of grammar and inability to spell. In addition to mindlessly taking left-wing arguments on faith, it’s also clear that public education has done you no favors.

        1. i know enough to know that correlation doesnt’ imply causeation.

          1. I’m guessing commie-kid.
            The same lame ‘libertarians are evil, don’t you agree’ stupidity.
            Although there are others as imbecilic, so it’s not a gimme.
            Right, flaming asshole?

            1. riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

              libertarians arent evil – just stupid.

      2. no thy just demand more and more.

        Actually, we’re not. Doesn’t stop you from speaking for us, though. Please stop.

        1. Wait…was that a serious post by him? I thought he was a leftist being sarcastic. He’s he actually a right winger who seriously talks about ‘god fearing white Americans?’

          It’s literally impossible to tell anymore.

      3. You seem to have missed the point. The point is that modern liberals/progressives aren’t interested in actual equality, they are just a collection of identity groups fighting for more stuff for their group.

        It’s revealing that you yourself characterize the efforts of liberals in the past as “taking from whites” and “giving to blacks”. Instead of say, equalizing the legal treatment of blacks and whites. That says a lot about your own perceptions – that TO YOU it really IS all about taking from whites and giving to blacks.

      4. I shall dub you the Anti-American since your screed is just about as insane as his and tinged with your own brand of retarded racism.

  19. the left largely believes the Constitution is an impediment to their dreams of an authoritarian state government by bureaucrats handing out favors to preferred groups. They don’t believe in free political speech, free exercise of religion, free association or the 2nd amendment. They’re going wobbly on freedom of the press. They believe the constitution requires racial discrimination in education, hiring and government contracting. They don’t believe in separation of powers or any limits on the Congress’s power to legislate. They’re apparently now in favor of warrantless searches of our phone and computer records. I guess the question needs to be asked – which part of the constitution they’ll be “reclaiming.”

    1. which part of the constitution they’ll be “reclaiming.”

      I think they misread it from the get-go:
      “We the top men…”

  20. I guess the question needs to be asked – which part of the constitution they’ll be “reclaiming.”

    They’ve reclaimed damn near the whole thing, for certain values of “reclaiming”.

    http://www.austinautosalvage.com/

  21. What this article fails to mention is that the current “Progressive” view of the Constitution and history is exactly the same view taken by the antebellum South. The Antebellum Southern view of the US Constitution was that it was written by white people and for white people and whatever assurances it made for equality applied to whites only. The antebellum South viewed blacks and all nonwhites as a special class under the Constitution.

    The slaveholders held a malevolent view towards blacks and therefore interpreted the Constitution to allow discrimination against them. The Progs have a paternalistic view towards minorities. So while they agree with both the Southern view of American history and the Southern view that minorities are a special class under the Constitution, they conclude this means minorities are entitled to special protections instead of it entitled whites to discriminate against them. The view of history and the Constitution are, however, identical in both cases. It is just that the slave holders came to a different conclusion as to what that meant.

    1. Ultimately, the “prog” tradition of the Constitution, such as there is one, is one that traces its roots to the slaveholding South. And that tradition says that the Constitution doesn’t mean directly what it says. For example, the 5th Amendment doesn’t mean “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law” in the literal sense, because minorities and whites are so different due to their natural circumstances the document was never intended to mean they would be treated the same. The “Prog” version of the Constitution is one driven by racial politics and distinctions and that has a long history going back to the slaveholding south. Progs for some reason, however, are never very proud to accept that tradition for some reason.

  22. This piece starts off talking about how the progressives want to reclaim the Constitution from the Tea Party, then starts talking about liberal journalists trying to reclaim the Constitution from Scalia, and finishes with a history lesson that doesn’t have anything to do with what’s happening now.

    The fact is that progressives are openly hostile to the very existence of our individual rights. They see them as an impediment to whatever they want to accomplish with government. This is very different from liberals of the past, who just cared about some rights more than others.

    It’s telling, actually, to see that when progressives (rather than liberals) talk about reclaiming the Constitution, they’re not actually advocating any particular set of rights–they’re talking about using journalism to retrain the American public to think about our rights as if they aren’t as important as whatever progressives imagine is in the best interests of society as a whole.

    1. So, this piece was a great opportunity to unmask the progressives for their open hostility to the very existence of our Constitutional rights.

      What any journalist or Supreme Court justice says isn’t the issue. And talking about what the progressives did more than a hundred years ago isn’t the issue either. The fact is that to be a progressive today is to want to subvert our individual rights in the name of what they see as the common good.

      And that means subverting the Constitution. At every opportunity on every issue over the past six years, is there any Constitutional principle that the progressives didn’t want to subvert in the interests of the “greater good”?

      They want to reclaim the Constitution, alright. …and they want the American people to think of the Constitution as toilet paper.

      1. They are hostile to our rights because Progs think how the document applies to you depends on what race or lately, what class you are. Their “tradition” is that the document was never guaranteed to provide equal protection but was always a document intended to provide special protection to some at the expense of others. Progs just want to “fix” the document to ensure that it gives special protection to those who in the Progs’ view need it at the expense of those who deserve it.

        1. More particularly, they think rights apply to groups, not so much to individuals. What they claim to be important is evening statistical results, by brute force if necessary.

          1. ^This.

    2. Ken,

      One debate has occurred throughout the entire history of the Constitution; whether the document applies the same way to all individuals. Originally, this debate concerned slavery with the antebellum South claiming it didn’t apply to blacks in the same way it applies to white. That same debate rages today with nearly the same arguments. The only difference is that Progs now play the role of the antebellum South and argue that the document applies to different people differently depending on their race.

      1. It’s more basic than that.

        They see individual rights as a Noble Lie that’s outlived its usefulness.

        They want to take away that Noble Lie and replace it with one that will make people easier to lead.

        This is so basic, it goes back to Plato. The problem is that individual rights are not a Noble Lie. They’re an evolutionary social adaptation like language. They don’t disappear simply because enough people don’t believe in them. When various oppressive governments of the past have tried to stamp them out, they’ve reasserted themselves!

        The Noble Lie has it that people are easier to lead when they believe certain things–regardless of whether they’re “true”. And believing that you have an individual right to make choices for yourself runs contrary to that. That’s why progressives hate our rights.

        They think you only believe you have rights because of the Koch Brothers. …because of your religion. Because of your racist patriotism. Don’t you know the Koch Brothers are evil? Don’t you know that religion is a fraud? Don’t you know that the Constitution was written by old white men who owned slaves?

        This is the progressive mindset. They think our rights are a dream, and they’re trying to wake us up.

        1. hey see individual rights as a Noble Lie that’s outlived its usefulness.

          That is how the old South viewed it. The document said nice things to sound good but it didn’t mean it.

        2. This comment interests me because it goes to the core of libertarianism. I tend to disagree on a few points.

          I’m a pessimist/misanthrope, I suppose, but too often libertarians make this assumption that humans have an innate desire to be free. Reading the likes of Thomas Paine or Locke, they view government and the social contract as the necessary evil that evolved in the early stages of human development. The natural state is individuality and freedom.

          Yet, historically, plenty of people have been content living under tyrannical governments. Freedom has, sadly enough, been the exception in history as opposed to the norm.

          More than that, you can look at the polls taken of Americans. They don’t tend to support libertarian views or even progressive ideas. They are protectionists by nature. A lot of what has been said about progressive hypocrisy is true of humans in general. Unions tended to foster attitudes of racism. That isn’t unique to unions. People form groups and tend to hate outsiders who threaten the status quo.

          The libertarian concept of freedom isn’t necessarily the naturally preferred state for humanity.

          1. “The libertarian concept of freedom isn’t necessarily the naturally preferred state for humanity.”

            I would argue that libertarian freedom is so powerful that it can provide excellent results in small doses–and that insufficient doses lead to deeper dissatisfaction than libertarian freedom itself engenders.

            Sticking with the evolutionary idea, the story of the 20th Century is about societies that featured individual rights more prominently coming into conflict with societies that made a virtue of ignoring individual rights for the “greater good”. Specifically, we’re talking about Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and the USSR.

            Those societies that did not feature individual rights so prominently ended up in the dustbin of history–I would argue–because they didn’t feature individual rights prominently enough!

            No doubt, the idea of people being free to make choices for themselves is frightening to some people.

            But individual rights do have distinct advantages. Your economy stagnates without them, flourishes with them, and there will always be those who are not satisfied, qualitatively, with the status quo–who would rather be free to make qualitative choices for themselves. They really can’t be accommodated without individual rights.

            1. Those societies that did not feature individual rights so prominently ended up in the dustbin of history–

              Depending on you start measuring, every society (or government) ends up in the dustbin of history.

              I mean, was Rome a failure? The Ottoman Empire? The Han Dynasty? Which of these states offered the paradigm of natural rights to their people?

              If we look at human evolution and history, it becomes harder to view the natural state of man as freedom.

              That’s not a judgement of libertarian ideas. It’s a warning to not take for granted that people all or even mostly want the same things. At the least, there is a great deal of evidence that humans have historically cared little for the suffering of those outside their group.

              1. There’s more to learn there than that.

                China is an interesting example, too, in that it was also on the way to the dustbin of history, but it changed course!

                The Chinese government, as presently constituted, may still not feature individual rights prominently enough to avoid the dustbin, but with the little bit of individual rights they did start to recognize, they were able to lift hundreds of millions of people out of starvation poverty in a remarkably short period of time. China just joined the WTO, what, 12 years ago?!

                A little bit of individual rights goes a long way!

                1. We don’t have to just look at our adversaries either. We can look at our own history. Was the United States a better place when women and minorities couldn’t make choices for themselves? When their individual rights weren’t protected? Of course not!

                  Just looking at women as economic actors, bringing their skills and labor into the workforce and having them participate as consumers, etc. had a dramatic economic consequences we still benefit from today.

                  Economic growth comes from interdependent things like productivity gains through innovation, technology, investment, international trade, and all of these things flourish when individual consumers, entrepreneurs, investors, and others are free to make choices for themselves with minimal interference from politicians and bureaucrats. The growth in our standard of living depends on that.

                  Understand this: libertarianism is individuals making choices for themselves.

                  I understand some people find that scary, but if the political fault lines were between those of us who want to make choices for ourselves and those of us who want politicians and bureaucrats to make our choices for us, I think we’d be in a much better world.

                  …better than having to choose between healthcare freedom with Team Red or marriage freedom with Team Blue, for sure.

                  1. We don’t have to just look at our adversaries either. We can look at our own history. Was the United States a better place when women and minorities couldn’t make choices for themselves? When their individual rights weren’t protected? Of course not!

                    My quibble isn’t over any of those things. I am a libertarian. I believe in natural rights that people are entitled to. I just question the narrative that this is the way most people desire to live.

                    I also think it’s dangerous to start looking at history of the last few centuries and to ignore everything that came before it. One issue I frequently have with those on the left is that they act as if history is a constant march forward or towards a better society. It isn’t. It never will be.

                    In the case of China, you used the recent example of the communist party. What about the dynasties that preceded it? In a number of respects, the communist party didn’t rule that differently from the dynasties that came before them. They just lacked the bureaucratic chops and had a more warped ideology while sharing the same disdain for individual rights (or the peasants).

                    I think it’s dangerous to take it for granted that all people really want the same thing. The libertarian concept of freedom is scary for a lot of people. I would argue the majority.

                    1. And that warped ideology had to go in the dustbin of history, right?

                      I appreciate that there’s no rule that says history is moving towards an inevitable Libertopia–we could end up living through a totalitarian hell. Recognizing that, however, to be fair, we should also recognize that there are significant negative consequences to violating people’s individual rights and that governments cannot violate our individual rights with impunity.

                      Large totalitarian governments have collapsed and/or reformed themselves when they went too far.

                      Also, I appreciate that not everyone wants freedom–some of them want freedom from choice.

                      We don’t need unanimity to make the world more libertarian. We just need a critical mass to make things better. The better things get with more freedom, the more comfortable our detractors will be with making things more free.

                    2. If rights are natural, why bother ever discussing them? They would be manifest.

          2. I am not sure the libertarian concept of freedom does not exist outside of the writing of a limited set of Western Philosophers.

            1. Libertarianism is people being free to make choices for themselves. It’s just another way of talking about individual rights.

              It isn’t just a concept. If individual rights were merely a concept, then how could not featuring them prominently destroy the biggest totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century?

              It’s like in physics. How do we know gravity exists? No one’s ever seen the physical mechanism by which gravity works; no one’s ever produced an image of a “graviton”–but we can see gravity’s effects.

              If it effects things, then it exists, right? The Stalinists didn’t believe in individual rights–but since individual rights are real, it didn’t matter whether they believed in them. The failure to account for individual rights eventually destroyed their economy, their institutions, and their government.

              So, I find it…odd…that people would talk about libertarian ideas like they don’t exist if you don’t believe in them. It’s like thinking that you can believe in physics or not. I suppose you can decide not to believe in physics, but when you wander out into traffic, and you get hit by a truck, certain things are going to happen whether you believe in physics or not.

              Those 20th Century examples were extreme, but you can see the same thing happen to a lesser extent all the time here in America. When public policy doesn’t account for people’s right to make choices for themselves, we suffer for it.

              …regardless of whether whomever believes in individual rights.

        3. The problem is that individual rights are not a Noble Lie. They’re an evolutionary social adaptation like language. They don’t disappear simply because enough people don’t believe in them. When various oppressive governments of the past have tried to stamp them out, they’ve reasserted themselves!

          Do you seriously believe that? Of course rights do disappear when not enough people believe in them. When oppressive gov’ts stamp them out, people have to assert them.

      2. …”the document applies to different people differently depending on their race.”

        And they argue this is ‘equality’!

    3. Actually, Ken, I think it might be good for “liberals” (not progressives) to try to reclaim the Constitution.
      At least, for one thing, it would get them to read it, and they would have to internalize some of the values it claims, which might bring them back to principles like equal justice and universal individual rights. Along with a suspicion of authority and all the other things written into the Constitution.

      Now, I have no doubt that there are people who want to parse the constitution in a way to make it mean what they want it to mean and somehow find out that it supports what they want it to support. But I think if liberals are forced to frame things in constitutional terms that at least sets terms of the debate up around what the constitution means. And it’s a lot harder to argue that the constitution means free shit for everyone instead of the plain text of what it actually says.

      We should welcome them to join us in a debate about what the constituion means, becaase we will wipe the floor with them.

      1. I agree Hazel.

        I think there’s an important distinction to be made between liberals and progressives–and it’s all about rights.

        Liberals aren’t libertarians. They don’t understand my rights correctly, they often think my rights only exist because the government gave them to me, and they think they can change or amend my rights whenever they want. They also play favorites with our Constitutional rights–they like some (in some ways) but don’t like others.

        That being said, liberals do believe that rights exist and that they’re important.

        And I think they should embrace the Constitution, absolutely. They better do something because the anti-constitutional legacy Obama is leaving the left with is not going to serve them well with a more charismatically challenged leader.

        Progressives are openly hostile to our rights. so many people use “liberal” and “progressive” interchangeably, and I think it’s really important that we start recognizing the differences between them. Liberals are the battlefield. Progressives are the enemy.

        1. I don’t know where you people get this bullshit from. You know more about the difference between liberals and progressives than liberals/progressives do.

          But neither is your problem. Your problem is that you are a victim of propaganda. All liberals want to do is make life a little fairer for people in an environment where institutions and media are servicing the wealthy elite. You, libertarians, are the intellectual vanguard of that movement, as if it needed one. Your purpose is to deploy sophistry and hypocrisy in the hopes that it will confuse the stupid into supporting the interests of oil companies and financial services and call it liberty. Your problem is that radio, Internet, and/or TV personalities have polluted your brain with the meme that liberals with their high taxes and social programs are nefariously coming after your freedom. Conveniently liberty is defined in your polluted brain as low taxes and a lack of social programs. It doesn’t actually mean what the dictionary says it means. It means the imperceptible mote of extra freedom that millionaires have when their taxes are 3% lower. It’s absurd and grotesque. Your life is so free of actual threats to liberty that you have time to spend to care about that.

          1. Christ, you are an immoral pig.

            1. No, he is a small minded baby that has no real work experiences. I imagine some time in a third world shit hole would change his mind a touch.

              It’s the evil capitalist … they are like the good capitalist but don’t donate to my politicians.

          2. and/or TV personalities have polluted your brain with the meme that liberals with their high taxes and social programs are nefariously coming after your freedom.

            Actually, I am a libertarian primarily because the government is incompetent. You allow the government to get away with things that, if pulled by a private citizen, you’d want them locked in a cage or executed.

            Your concept of fairness and equality are ludicrous and unrealistic.

          3. Your problem is that radio, Internet, and/or TV personalities have polluted your brain with the meme that liberals with their high taxes and social programs are nefariously coming after your freedom.

            Oh, silly me, I guess liberals/progressives AREN’T trying to deny me the freedom to grow GMOs, buy insurance that isn’t community rated, not pay for other people’s contraception maternity leave, substance abuse treatment, and kid’s dental care, purchase guns, build a house that isn’t to code, fill in a “wetland” on my property, use plastic bags for my groceries, not recycle my trash, hire an unlicensed plumber, sell homemade children’s toys, and any number of other things that they appear to be trying to do.

          4. For examples see California, Chicago, and New York for how liberals won’t stop your freedoms!

            Woot I can’t have salt. Woot, please tell me when to water my lawn. Woot, please tell me what to eat or do in my house.

            Yes, it’s the big bad internet and tv personalities that are giving liberals a bad name.

            The reality party right? Far far from it.

            Good luck in your world Tony. Hope you don’t hurt yourself.

          5. “All liberals want to do is make life a little fairer for people in an environment where institutions and media are servicing the wealthy elite.”

            You mean the progressive corporatist institutions and the progressive corporate media that serve the progressive wealthy elite and the progressive technocratic state? There are very few institutions not under the control of progs, and they’re doing their best to destroy them.

          6. Tony, how old were you when your father abandoned you/your family ?

          7. All liberals want to do is make life a little fairer for people in an environment where institutions and media are servicing the wealthy elite

            How telling. Must take care of TOP MEN!

  23. The line between liberals and progressives has become very blurred since 2008. I think we are getting to the point where there isn’t much of a distinction left to be made.

  24. The same constitution that grants voting rights also gives the right for corporations to spend freely on elections, and other icky rights the left hates so much.

    Let’s face it, the constitution is useful tool for the left if it can be used as a tool for “empowerment” – and only for certain protected individuals. If we had a dime every time a liberal said something like “You’re abusing the freedom of speech”, the country would be less broke.

  25. Elizabeth Warren’s 11 Commandments of Progressivism =
    “We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”
    “We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.”
    “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.”
    “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.”
    “We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.”
    “We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.”
    “We believe?I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014?we believe in equal pay for equal work.”
    “We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.”
    “We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.”
    “And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!”
    Stalin couldn’t have said it any better.

    1. “We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.”

      I believe that’s a non-sequitur

      1. I agree Sevo. However, I see it as a reason to take taxpayer’s money and give it to a touchy-feely, feel-good, needless, bureaucracy. Will there by an accountability to this bureaucracy, by whom, when and how. As you know, a bureaucracy, especially a worthless one (like the DOE, Commerce Department, etc) never dies.

      2. The bigger problem is that you don’t believe in science.

        Science tells us a catastrophe is happening to the planet. That implies that we have to act to mitigate it. Only a moron can’t understand that.

        1. Only a moron would believe that.

          God, you’re a stupid, vile, creature.

        2. Yep, it’s all of us engineers, mathmaticians, and scientist that don’t believe in science.

        3. That’s why the data has to be “fixed” to give the answer you want right? Moron

  26. How can you “take back” a document you believe is, essentially, a fluid and ever-changing thing that doesn’t necessarily mean what it says? And why bother taking it back when you’ve worked so hard to neutralize it?

    1. Well said… this is the basic challenge of the Libertarian political party: why would voters trust it to improve government if it spends all of its time suggesting government is inherently coercive, flawed, etc., and needs to be ended?

  27. more nonsense from liberatardians. Your nonsense is just as nonsensical as the Dem and GOP nonsense. I am sure you feel proud of yourself.

    In fact, the constitution is the worst enemy of the american working class majority. The abolition of the constitution should be your goal, if you are of the working class majority. Of course libertardians all see themselves as millionaires in the making.

    The constitution was put in place by the rich in order to make the rich richer. In fact in the seminal documents of the USA it is explicitly stated that the federal govt structure described by the constitution had as it PRIMARY goal the preservation of wealth INequality by the dampening of democracy.

    So STFU, libertardians.

    1. Ouch, that’s a mouthful… are you saying democracy isn’t the best possible answer to the task of government, or are you suggesting that our country isn’t democratic?

      1. He’s not suggesting anything.

        He is simply trying to touch enough talking points to try and make someone mad enough to respond to his dribble.

  28. Since when do progressives allow the truth, logic or actual historic fact get in the way of their arguments?

    1. When Progressives were pushing for the food safety laws that allowed industrial agriculture to spread (and thus supported the spread of consumer industrialism) they were working from truth (fear of rats in hit dogs was hurting Armour’s sales), historic fact (historically people had grown their own food or personally knew the grower) and logic – only the government can serve as the guarantor of claims in a national economy.

  29. Hmm.. strange argument, Damon. Pointing to the gradual evolution of equality has little to do with the writer’s core point, that the Right Wing is promoting a view of the Constitution that is not historically accurate. I have to chuckle when I hear the right talk about the “original intent”. The original intent was the articles of confederation, the second intent the Constitution without the Bill of Rights and the third with the Bill of Rights added. Clearly the founders expected the Constitution to be a living document, and clearly the Founders recognized the need for a strong central government to insure we were one nation, not a collection of nation-states.

    1. A strong central government makes an empire. A nation is about a sense of community and shared identity.

    2. The Founders intended the Constitution to be a living document insofar as it was amendable. That is, after all, what the Bill of Rights is: the first ten amendments to the Constitution. In other words, the Founders established a process, under the law, that could be used to alter and update the Constitution as the need to do so arose, which they clearly anticipated would happen. The process of “reinterpreting” the Constitution (contrary to the obvious meaning of the document in many cases) is nothing more than an exercise in power and is contrary to the proper functioning of the rule of law.

  30. Actually, Balkin’s primary error is in confusing politics for constitutionalism. The progressive “reinterpretation” of the Constitution in the 20th century was purely a political act, not a constitutional one. Progressives used their majority political position from the 1930s through the 1960s, in both Congress and the courts, to implement numerous changes to American society and governance, many of which were antithetical to the original meaning of the Constitution. Other changes that were classified as constitutional rights were simply policy decisions made by the progressive on the courts that couldn’t be enacted via the political process.

    That’s not to say that these changes were uniformly bad. Many, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, have done decidedly more good than harm. Though the long-term damage that such acts have done and will do to the Constitution might make them not worth it in the end.

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