May 17th, 2022


What Would a Progressive America Look Like?

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published May 3,2018

 What Would a Progressive America Look Like?

While the November elections may seem like a long way off, we need to be thinking about the consequences of those elections.

As I have noted before, Democrats running for office this year have been styling themselves as "centrists," taking policy positions that seem taken from Republican platforms. But there is no indication that any Democrats will govern from the center these days, and every reason to think that they will succumb to the pressure brought to bear by the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party and move left. The more Democrats there are in Congress, the further left that body will go.

So before you vote for a Democrat for Congress, it's worth asking — what would a Congress controlled by Democrats do?

First and foremost, of course, is the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Many of the left's mouthpieces make no bones about the fact that this is their end game. Others (including best-selling author and talk show host Mark Levin) warn that the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has morphed into a thinly disguised (and arguably unconstitutional) effort to drum up anything to justify impeachment.

The risks to the country if Democrats play fast and loose with the law to unseat a duly elected president are grave. But the enormity of that effort obscures the other threats to American liberty if so-called "progressives" get control of the government.

What would a progressive America look like? Recent headlines provide plenty of sobering evidence.

Progressives tout their commitment to "universal health care," often using the National Health Service of Great Britain as an exemplar. But the distressing cases of Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans present an abject lesson in what can go wrong when personal health care choices intersect with the progressive viewpoint that government knows best. British hospital staff told the parents of both gravely ill children that it was in their children's best interests to die, and the parents were prohibited from taking those children elsewhere for alternative treatments.

American colleges and universities — enclaves of progressive thought — should also give us insight — and pause.

Recent surveys show that nearly 20 percent of college students think violence is justified against speech one finds offensive. More than twice that number think that the U.S. Constitution prohibits "hate speech." (It does not.) The protests — and even riots — we have seen on university campuses bear this out with frightening clarity. Less violent but more insidious are the widespread campus policies restricting speech and conduct (think "trigger warnings," "safe spaces" and "microaggressions") that could potentially cause offense.

The Obama administration's notorious "Dear Colleague" letter purported to advise colleges how to investigate and deter sexual assault on campus. In practice, those recommendations gutted due process for anyone accused of sexual misconduct, depriving them of the presumption of innocence, the right to counsel, the right to confront their accuser and even the right to appeal. Over 150 lawsuits alleging violations of due process have been filed since 2011.

Other abuses of legal process should get our attention, like the "John Doe" raids conducted in Wisconsin against conservative political activists — later declared unconstitutional. In many essential respects, these are of a piece with the conflicting standards we increasingly see applied by the FBI and the Department of Justice, the Federal Election Commission and even the IRS — to Democrats or progressives versus Republicans or conservatives.

Disregard of existing laws is also behind much of our current immigration crisis. The progressive embrace of unlimited immigration (aided and abetted by distinctly nonprogressive businesses that want cheap labor) has given us de facto open borders, rampant crime in border states, gang activity, "sanctuary cities" and staggering expenditures.

Cities and states run by progressive politicians also provide cautionary tales of mismanagement. Chicago has strict gun control laws and one of the country's highest rates of gun violence (although the numbers are down this year, thankfully). Reports of widespread trash, used needles and human feces all over downtown San Francisco shocked the country. Fully one-third of the residents of Portland, Oregon, have considered leaving, because of the city's massive homeless problem. The state of Illinois — run by Democrats for decades — is facing an unfunded pension liability of $250 billion.

And then there are Democrats' dreams of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, a completely disarmed citizenry, higher taxes and a Supreme Court populated by liberal justices who believe the Constitution is a "living document."

At the local, state and federal level, there is ample evidence to demonstrate that progressive policies crush civil liberties rather than protecting them, leave the most vulnerable among us victimized, and break the bank (and the backs) of ordinary citizens.

Americans cannot fall prey to the thinking that midterm elections are less important than presidential elections. There is far too much at stake.

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Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.