Anthony Gregory, a Research Analyst and Editor for The Independent Institute weighs in on an aspect of the current global political conspiracy in Modern Conservatism = Rightwing Progressivism?
I know that I should sometimes forgive a failed attempt at sarcasm. Writing sarcastically is a much trickier business than speaking sarcastically. The problem with failed sarcasm is mostly that the reader really can't tell whether the author meant to be sarcastic. No one can see the author touching his nose or winking at his computer screen when the piece is published. Readers can only take the text at face value and respond to it if it seems worth doing. What I'm about to point out to you really, really ticks me off. This will not be my first commentary on the subject. Note to political commentators everywhere: Don't make me come back to this again! (← I'm emphasizing that I'm ticked.)
According to Mr. Gregory:
Conservatives often cheer on the presidencies of Teddy Roosevelt—a progressive if ever there was one—and New Dealers like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. They also defend a leviathan different from that envisioned by the progressive left more as a matter of degree than of kind. On economics, all too many conservatives have embraced the national welfare state, and although they are still more attuned to traditional limits on state power in this arena, they are often worse than the other side when it comes to policing and warfare issues. All in all, both wings of the modern spectrum have been different flavors of the progressive ideology that completely conquered the Republican Party a century ago, and then overtook the Democrats and modern liberalism as well. Many of the features of “conservatism” from the Cold War to George W. Bush—militarism, national statism, welfare statism with paternalistic garb, police statism, anti-immigration sentiment, cozying up to big business while expanding the regulatory state—have clear origins in the progressive presidencies of Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and even Woodrow Wilson. Thus I find the question as to whether Bush was a conservative or a progressive to be a trick question. He was both.No, it isn't a trick question. It only seems tricky when the term “conservative” is used to mean progressive in contradiction to its established meaning. If the meaning of the two words is taken to be the same, it's not the least bit logically tricky to understand that the two words can be used interchangeably. That is a property of synonyms. If something can be characterized with one of the words, it can also be characterized by another with the same meaning. But here's the thing.The question isn't the trick. The two words, in fact, do not have the same meaning.
If they look like progressives, act like progressives, and quack like progressives; then in all likelihood they are progressives. If they also call themselves conservative, they're lying.
This deception is the smoke that indicates that a fire is burning. If you understand the fire to be corruption, all of the confusion in terminology and shifting political directions immediately disappears. The fact that two groups that on occasion physically sit on two different sides of an aisle idealize the same politics in different ways and ultimately push a similar agenda is in no way strange. It has nothing to do with political ideology. It all comes down to power and money. They're all just stealin' stuff and blowin' smoke.
Being an honest and fit leader, including a commentator who hopes to lead people in thought on important topics, or any person who is concerned about their own well-being and that of others, must provoke a sense of urgency to join the volunteer fire brigades. Grab the axes and aim the hoses directly at the fire, giving every sincere effort to put it out. For writers, this means knowing what the words mean and using them properly to state unambiguously what needs to be stated.