The moral evolution of progressives

By Marta H. Mossburg

Boy, have progressives “evolved.”

The party of saloon protesters, suffragettes and crusaders against smoking, prostitution and immigration are now the champions of government-regulated vice.

They no longer want to save souls, but use them to increase tax revenue to fund an ever expanding list of new priorities in a turnaround that would likely make Frances Willard, the famous head of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in the late 1800s, reach for a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

The reversal is not totally consistent, however. No sooner had progressives successfully helped to ban smoking everywhere in public places had they moved on to champion legalizing marijuana.

Pot legalization is the cause du jour for Heather Mizeur, a Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, who would like to use the money generated from selling pot to fund universal pre-kindergarten. She recently told MSNBC, “When we tax, legalize and regulate marijuana, we’ll have the revenue to invest in other important priorities like making sure that every one of our children are [sic] ready to enter school able to learn at the same pace as every other kid in our state.”

Whoa, so it doesn’t matter if the kids’ parents are lighting up each night so long as the government gets to teach their offspring during the day?

Buying, selling and smoking pot is now legal in Colorado and soon will be in Washington. The war on drugs has failed, just as Prohibition did, but that never stopped progressives of yesteryear from deploring ideals that did not conform to their moral standards.

If anything, it only made them more fervent in their quest to educate America’s public school children about the horrors of alcohol, castigate Hollywood for depicting pre-marital sex and smoking in movies and indoctrinate immigrants on Ellis Island in their teetotaling ways.

Now they are champions of “sex workers” and gambling for its job-creating capabilities, which makes one wonder if they might consider legalizing child labor so long as the taxes generated from it paid for universal access to dental care for child factory workers or championing bigamy if it paved the way for higher housing density and less urban sprawl. Or what about banning rich white families from adopting black children to prevent them from becoming Republicans? Ask MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry about that one.

Maybe it should not be surprising that progressive views have changed so dramatically in 100 years. Progressives themselves believe in moving ever forward to an as yet undiscovered ideal, and if that means discarding the moral underpinnings of the movement, so be it.

For all those who care about personal freedom, it probably feels good to have a movement that helped to elect President Barack Obama twice and the new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, on your side. But ultimately the affinity libertarians may share with progressives about gay marriage or drug and prostitution legalization is temporary because freedom and other core values are not important in and of themselves. They are a means to achieve something else.

Look at how President Obama’s administration so quickly postponed or reinterpreted key provisions in his signature health law. His executive decisions will significantly impact how many people join the health exchanges and ultimately undermine the law from working as intended, since they mean fewer younger and healthier people will balance out the older and sicker people signed up.

If even he is willing to abandon central tenets of his philosophy, what does it say about progressive beliefs? And if the rule of law, even his own law, is secondary to maintaining political power, why take the trouble to have beliefs in the first place?

If anything, progressives should make Americans celebrate the Bill of Rights as an enduring defense against those for whom rights depend on who is in power. Evolution is poisonous to human life if tyranny is its final expression.

Marta H. Mossburg writes about national affairs, culture and Maryland, where she lives. Follow her on Twitter at @mmossburg.

ALG President Nathan Mehrens on new employment numbers

 January 10, 2014, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens issued the following statement on December’s job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“Another half a million people dropped out of the American labor force in December.  You can ignore every other statistic and spin coming out of this Administration about the job market, this is the only data point that matters.  That is a half million more dreams shattered as Americans give up on traditional, legal paths to economic success and wealth.

 “Since Obama became president, the number of people who are considered to be in the civilian job eligible population has increased by just shy of eleven million people, but the number of people who have entered the work force has only increased by about 730 thousand people.  Quite simply our nation cannot survive when fewer than sixty six out a thousand working aged people are entering the workforce.  Of those sixty six who want a job, about five of them are unemployed.

“That is Obama’s economic legacy.  Political spin and economic shills can put whatever face they want on his economy, but any rational person can see, that this is not a sustainable model.  That is the takeaway from the December employment report, and it is ugly.”

To view online:

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at  (703) 383-0880  or at to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Nathan Mehrens.

ALG launches to promote alternative education options

Dec. 19, 2013, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government today launched, a website dedicated to raising awareness of alternative education options across the country. The group’s president, Nathan Mehrens, issued the following statement about the new project: is dedicated to promoting alternatives to the current failed education system, whether its private school choice, charter schools, or magnet schools within the public system. We’re going to let the American people know who is fighting for students first. We’re going to name names and pull no punches against those who are desperate to keep the current disaster in our schools in place just to service a few narrow interests, leaving our children as pawns in a high stakes game competing for tax dollars.

“A perfect example today is in Hartford, Connecticut where Capital Prep Magnet School principal Dr. Steve Perry is being attacked by ex-politician-turned-blogger Jonathan Pelto and the local board of education for essentially running an effective school. Capital Prep led by Perry is dedicated to getting its students into college, and the principal has been outspoken in favor of the model, and makes no qualms about those who stand in its way.

“Perry is bringing students out of poverty and creating a basis for a successful future. There’s a waiting list to get into his school. We need more alternatives like Perry in our schools, not an inquisition into a good man fighting the good fight against a corrupt, failing system. It’s time we put students first and put an end to the childish nonsense that prevails in the education establishment that clings to the status quo that is failing our students.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703)383-0880 or at to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Nathan Mehrens.


Federal Housing official resists mortgage bailout, political gimmickry

Aug. 6, 2012, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today issued the following statement praising Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) head Edward DeMarco for refusing to implement a costly bailout for borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth:

“Edward DeMarco is to be credited for acting in the best interests of taxpayers by refusing to engage in political gimmickry that would lead to additional bailouts.

“In his role as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Administration, DeMarco has held the line against an Obama political publicity stunt to bail out underwater borrowers. A bailout would only make the current foreclosure crisis even worse by creating a perverse incentive for borrowers who are current on their payments to become delinquent in a misguided attempt to qualify.

DeMarco’s review of the policy found that if as few as 3,000 borrowers strategically defaulted on their mortgages in an attempt to become eligible for the program, it would offset any taxpayer benefit derived from bailing out those who would currently be eligible — even in the best case scenario. From both the taxpayer and borrowers’ perspectives, there could not be a worse possible outcome than to offer false hope of a bailout that results in even more people losing their homes, leaving taxpayers with the bill.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.