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  • Paul Ryan, Anti-Progressive

    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

    Along with many of our allies, we here at Heritage have been focusing attention on “Progressivism,” the political movement which is largely responsible for the growth and vast expansion of centralized administration in the federal government.  As I have argued in my own book, progressivism challenged the original principles of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution as outmoded 18th century ideas and instead promoted “evolving” rights and a “living” Constitution that constantly adapts the founding principles and unlimits government to address any and every social problem of the day.  Many decades ago, Progressivism was very controversial, but nearly all Democrats and most Republicans over the decades have made their peace with it.

    One exception to this is Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin—ironic since that state can claim to be the geographic source of Progressive politics in this country.  In light of his work in thinking through the many great challenges we face today, but especially since the election of Barack Obama, Ryan has focused on the Progressive movement and its responsibility for the growth of big government, and argued that the American people must reject the Progressives’ vision and restore the Founders’ principles as the basis for this nation’s liberty, prosperity and independence.

    Several of Ryan’s recent speeches on this subject are particularly incisive for their unusually rich analysis of Progressivism, the first at a Hillsdale College event, then more recently at a Heritage Foundation event in Dallas, Texas and at an Oklahoma City political dinner.

    There has been some misunderstanding of Ryan’s analysis of Progressivism, particularly in his Oklahoma City address.  Ryan rightly explains that the “first wave” of Progressive reforms emphasized populist ideas such as recall elections and the Initiative and Referendum process by which public policy questions were put to a vote.  As the Progressive movement developed, it moved away from its first phase and openly advocated centralized bureaucracies as the real answer to political problems.  This is not an argument to return to the early Progressivism of Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson, but to understand Progressivism’s steps so we can unravel its damage.

    Now that the American people have been awakened to the profound and ongoing harm done to this country by Progressivism’s drive to transform America in to a European social state, it will take statesmanship of the highest magnitude, shaped by rigorous arguments and great prudence, to actually get us out of the statist web that has been developing in America for over 100 years.

    In the United States Congress, as of right now, Paul Ryan has been the singular voice persistently questioning the very essence of Progressivism in both principle and policy.  And more, he has gone back again and again to the original principles on which this nation was founded, and followed these principles as the only fixed and sure guides to the policy reforms America needs going forward.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    46 Responses to Paul Ryan, Anti-Progressive

    1. Jeff White, Naples F says:

      After we have a better understanding of the relationship between brotherhood, science and God, we can forge good progressive policies.

      Until that happens we will only struggle with bad progressive policies.

    2. KenVan Doren says:

      I wonder why you would promote Ryan over Ron Paul, who has been dispelling Progressive myths for as long as Ryan has been alive.

      Moreover, Ryan is a hero with feet of clay. Voted for the bankster bailout, GM bailout, and a number of other "progressive" measures. Like many other Republicans, Ryan gives evidence that you can not count on him to vote according to his rhetoric.

    3. Edith Driver, Hanfor says:

      I have been especially impressed with Mr Ryan's communications during the health care meeting and think he is a rising star in the GOP . We need so many more like him!!!

    4. Robin Wilhelm, Birmi says:

      I would love to see Congressman Ryan consider a run in 2012. The current roster of also-rans are simply not adequate to defeat the radical agenda of the Obama Administration, and may not even be strong enough to defeat Obama.

    5. Mark says:

      I like Paul Ryan, but I disagree he is the "singular" voice on this issue. There is another Congressman Paul who has 100% voted against any Progressive bills (and thus for the Comstitution) since the 70s. That man is Ron Paul.

    6. Pamela B, Virginia B says:

      Wow. I just heard Paul Ryan on Glen Beck. What a breathe of fresh air it is to hear "truth" speak. I intend to visit http://www.americanroadmap.org to learn more about the history of Progressivism. Thank you Heritage to clarifying the record on Paul Ryan and opening the door to more resources on the biggest threat to the American Way of Life.

    7. AWM- Indiana says:

      The Republican Party had better take notice: we will vote for them because this man, this "singular voice" that is Paul Ryan, apparently believes that there is still some value in the Party …..but in many, many cases, we will do so while holding our collective noses, having perceived that the difference between them and their Democratic opponents is slight, at best………

    8. C.Adli,NV. says:

      I myself as a conservative like to see some progress in the country but not the likes of ones socialists(so called Progressives)are trying to push so hard and jamming through our throats.We have to be against all those policies very strongly.

    9. MaryAnn- MI says:

      I've read a few articles recently that have severly denounced Ryan, and it seems that many who supported him no longer do because of his speech about progressivism. People hear/read the word "progressive" and go crazy without taking the time to understand what is being said. I like Paul Ryan and will continue to support him. Thanks for a good article.

    10. John Heitman Longbra says:

      Progressivism is not widely popular, yet the powers behind the movement

      have positioned their agents well. Frustrated citizens are being incorporated

      via their unions. Class struggle is being sold in a way that promotes anger

      and political instability. It is almost a call to rejoin the social upheaval

      of the 1960s. The new movement is failing to convince college students

      to stay with them, but workers rights vs.employers is a fertile soil in which

      the seeds of class and race unrest will sprout.

      I like Germans and respect their sense of what a good society should be.

      I am not a fan of altering America to fit the ideals of German reform

      philosophy ala Hegel and Von Bismark. they are top down socialists.

      My ancestors were compelled to leave for fear of castigation when

      Germany was united under Bismark. They sent their young men to

      the U.S.A. to escape the violent future they saw for the fatherland

      they loved second only to the Lord. The boys were told to come home when things improved, but the militant socialists wiped that dream away.

      The Germans failure to keep faith led inexorably to faith in the machinery of

      war. The twentieth century hosted the conflicts they fostered.

      Progressivism will pervert American social relationships in an equally

      destructive manner. First it homogenizes workers then it secularizes

      thought and finally it roots out dissent within and looks to fix the neighboring states. Paul Ryan knows the future that Progressives would achieve, and he deserves the support of Americans who respect the fact that our nation is founded on rejection of top down government. Europe was a failed mess they wanted to avoid. We owe it to the framers to reject any attempt to impose a new Europe over the costitutional ideals that make ours the greatest nation in history.

    11. Donald Webber, Redmo says:

      Having heard Paul Ryan hold forth on the true nature and founding principles of "Progressivism" on Glen Beck's radio program this morning, we can only conclude that this so-called political "progression" is in fact tantamount to a real regression from our country's founding principles and their Judeo-Christian basis and biblical frame of reference. This flagrant apostasy from revelatory and traditional truth, if allowed to continue through abject apathy or willful neglect, will only prove to be the eventual end of our great country "under God" in whom we trust for continuing in our God-given life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The recent governmentalization of healthcare by our demagogic leader and his democratic followers provides us all with proof positive of the perils of "Progressivism" we have already experienced.

      As Scripture plainly puts it: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). May God grant us courage to stand strong and fight the good fight to overcome this evil of our time from within, not to mention the worldwide resurgence of an evil Islamic tyranny from without against both church and state.

      Paul Ryan for President?

    12. soopermexican says:

      Great Article…. Conservatives should take heed of the warnings from men like Paul Ryan, and support them as much as possible.. keep up the good work!

    13. Bill from MD says:

      Rep. Ryan has proven himself to be not only articulate, but also well schooled in fact and not science fiction. This was made all too clear at Obama's health "summit" (a.k.a. charade). Rep. Ryan made short work of Obama's baseless lies about how the legislation would decrease the deficit.

    14. Mike Winsauer, Kings says:

      The not-so-subtle movement of the progressives to hijack this country and turn it into their dream of The united states of socialists republic is at hand and already too successful! The people have to wake up now and get involved in the process and get to the polls in record numbers in November or they will end up not recognizing the country where they were raised! Start with your family members and then talk to your neighbors about being a patriot and fighting for the United States of America. Its down to each of us to do our duty and earn the right to live in the country we should all love and cherish.

    15. John A. Thomas, King says:

      I have been a "fan" of Ryan's conservative fiscal stance ever since he took it to our president during the so-called bi-partisan health care conference. I too heard Ryan on the Glenn Beck program this morning and was very pleased by his obvious grasp of the Progressive agenda and their long held influence in our government. He joins Beck in my mind as the two most outspoken, factually based critics of the Progressives in this country and the damage they have done to our Republic since the late 1800's – early 1900's. .

      I would urge the Heritage Foundation to do their homework on these two defenders of our country and it's heritage and encourage all members to do the same. The Progressives are coming after these two men with all the force they can muster. They deserve all the help that can be given in their effort to inform, educate and ring the alarm bell about what the Progressives have already put into place and what they have in store for our future.

    16. Pingback: Paul Ryan:Progressivism’s- Antidote | Clarion Advisory

    17. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      In the 15th District in Michigan we have a conservative candidate for Congress in Dr. Rob Steele. This man will have an up hill battle against Dingell, Acorn, SEIU, and the Democratic party but with help from our friends we can get him elected. He will be a strong supporter of fiscal responsibility and all for which we stand. Representative Ryan will not be alone.

    18. Barbara Murray, Mari says:

      I am so proud that Paul is from my summer "neck of the woods". He is DEFINITELY a bright shining star on the horizon for CONSERVATIVE. Although he has an "R" after his name, I am sure that he is more closely aligned to the Conservative and Tea Party thoughts. 2012 probably is too soon for him to be a serious contender for President, but he surely would have my support, financially and "worker bee".

    19. Gerald Poe, Los Ange says:

      Progressivists are like the masked invaders. They have the same country, same neighborhoods, and say they are Americane, but in every other way, they are anti-American in behavior and intent.

      Thgeir confusing yet artfully crafted rhetoric that says they are all for the citizens. But each day they actively destroy freedom by erasing, bit by bit, the Constitution and replacing it with entitlements paid for by more taxes, along with limiting criticism by vilifying the opposition. However, never subjecting themselves to the same dictates. Progressives are intellectually dishonest and morally void, self-serving narcisists who prey on the weakness of others whom they seek to domionate.

    20. CB from Texas says:

      Paul Ryan seems to be a great young conservative voice for America. We need lots more of those to drown out the Progressive movement! For those Ron Paul supporters – be careful. I'm a life-long Texan and usually jump at the chance to support one of our own. Ron Paul tends to have some extremist views and will probably not be widely accepted by the rest of the country. I was involved in a somewhat politically controversial state project a few years ago (as a business consultant, not a politician) where Ron Paul supporters showed up to protest at over 50 public hearings making a scene everywhere they went. They may be polite tea-party protesters now, but they have a history of promoting some of his radical positions and views that I promise the media can, and will, distort to sound "crazy", which will turn off voters very quickly. I think we need to investigate supporting less controversial people like Ryan, Gingrich, Jindal, Pawlenty and several others. Let's find out who are the most honorable and trustworthy candidates, the ones that have brains, education, good communication skills, and true Conservative beliefs before we end up with another unelectable, losing candidate facing Obamamania. We don't need to go into this as a splintered group – it just gives the Libs/Progressives a sure way to win.

    21. Billie says:

      Paul Ryan, a voice of dignity and strength. He stands firm on honesty and efficiency. I appreciate all government members that look to the Constitution of, for and by the people, not more of them.

      Especially unfortunate to all immigrants living off government, when they came here to LIVE FREE! What's expected of all Americans, is in the Constitution.

      I mean immigrants living of, for and by the government and not being responsible for providing for themselves and children. Also putting costs of their cultures of lifestyle, on the tax payers.

    22. Pingback: Paul Ryan, Anti-Progressive – By Matt Spalding « V!rg!n!a Margar!ta's Blog

    23. Dawn, Waterville OH says:


    24. Lech Dharma - Colora says:

      Every time you hear or see the word "progress" when it comes to public policy, legislation, or education, your anti-liberty and anti-individualism radar should issue a warning. For "progressives" their idea of "progress" is a continual movement towards a completely secular society—and world—where everyone has the same status, class, property, and homogenous sense of "collective identity" as everyone else (except, of course, for the privileged, ruling elite). They envision such a society as utopian; where there is no longer any poverty, illness, or social conflict.

    25. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Isn't it ironic that Germany drew up a constitution very similar to our own. This in response to the horrors played out by their socially progressive nationalist regime. Now we have social progressives in America who believe our constitution should be altered to accommodate the times? Seems a dangerously backward move to me.

    26. Phil Orenstein says:

      In his Oklahoma speech Paul Ryan does make an appropriate distinction between the early progressives or "first wave" as Spalding put it and the later statist corruptions that perverted the movement. We should understand this distinction and give due praise to the early progressives for the plethora of democratic reforms, aversion to corruption in gov't, women's voting rights, public education to assimilate immigrants to American values, and many more beneficial reforms that helped make America exceptional. Today’s liberals co-opted classical liberalism and twisted and perverted its true intent from its roots in 19th century Western Civilization as a political tradition founded on individual liberty, limited government and free markets. After “liberalism” was demonized and became a dirty word, they chose to call themselves “progressives.” But Progressivism is too good a designation to allow today’ left wing socialists to enjoy using that term with impunity. We need to understand the Progressive Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America in it's historical context or we conservatives will be percieved as "talking out of our hats" or being downright ignorant of our history. Eugene V. Debs was the leading socialist of the times, not American Exceptionalist Woodrow Wilson or Teddy Roosevelt immortalized on Mount Rushmore. We need to understand a little history and not look like the fools. Glenn Beck is doing great things for our country, but he needs to get his history straight to be more credible. See my recent blog for more on this:

    27. KenVan Doren says:


      Too many snakes, wolves in sheep's clothing. YOU think he is a rising star because the puppet masters WANT you to think that, and have greased the skids for him, the opposite of what they have done for a TRUE conservative, about the ONLY person in congress who votes what he says-Ron Paul. The establishment hates Ron because-left and right-there will be no more feeding at the public trough. If Ron had his way, the welfare/warfare state would be ended. And note that Larry Blankfein (Goldman Sachs CEO) is the biggest welfare queen in the country. That is why FOX attacked Ron as viciously as MSNBC. You are being manipulated, do not fall for it. Should Ryan get to be president, he would have EXACTLY the same foreign policy and monetary policy as all recent presidents.

    28. Vaughn, Alaska says:

      There needs to be a louder voice against the progressive movement and more focus on this movement. The ideals being promoted out of this movement need to be trampled. One of the biggest advocates of the progressive movement are the educational institutions in this country. I'm currently taking a history class at the local university and my college professor actually said that the progressive movement and the new deal were "counter to common belief, an attempt to SAVE capitalism." My teacher is very much for the progressive movement and promotes ideals like government regulation, subsidized education, subsidized health care, and unions. He lectures all class period, doesn't let anyone get a word in, and never talks about the negative impacts of these decisions. Why are teachers polluting the minds of impressionable young adults?

    29. BeauC, Montana says:

      our freedom is slowly being leeched away by this progressive thinking. And because of pretty speechs and fancy words americans dont notice what they are turning us into. if we keep letting them take us down this road we will no longer be the land of the free. America needs to WAKE UP!!!!

    30. Darrell Louder, Orem says:

      A few years ago I was extremly impressed with comments I had heard from Paul Ryan. Today I have re-discovered why I was impressed. Rep Ryan is one of the few congressmen with anti progressive ideas and is very eloquant in expressing those ideas. He richly deserves the support of the American people if they want to preserve their freedoms.

    31. Terry Sonnier San An says:

      Thank you for helping me stay informed.

    32. Linda Maddox, Carlsb says:

      Thank God for Paul Ryan!

      I think Ron Paul or Paul Ryan should run for President. Who else do we trust. Of course I love Senater Jim DiMint, I think he is sincere, a great patroit. But Paul Ryan is young and not afraid of President Obama, he is a great statesmen.Both of them know our country is in big trouble. Our whole way of life and our childrens future is at stake. That is why the women in this country can't sleep at night, we can feel it. Our children are at risk, we don't hold kindly to this. We will not sleep until we can turn this around. We are Americans, we love our country and so does Paul Ryan. Thank you Paul Ryan for being a great American!

    33. patty t., alabama says:

      I really like Paul Ryan. I watched him during the Health Care debate, and am very impressed.

    34. John Doe, Maryland says:

      Everyone knows about Theodore Roosevelt. What you may have missed was the fact that TR was not only a Republican but also a pretty strong Progressive. Now I'm not saying that all progressive legislation is right, but I think that it does have some merit.

      I understand everyone that will be reading this or writing about this will have their own opinions. Great! It is America so do what you want. You have that God given right.

      Progressivism was to improve the life of the lower income families during the 1870-1920's roughly. It was to dissolve trusts and monopolies that had begun to enslave much of lower income population. I think that most people would agree that slavery is wrong no matter what cause or side you seem to find yourself on.

      TR also started policies that would continue under Taft and Wilson that would see us through World War I and the 1920's which happens to be one of the most influence decades of the last one hundred years.

      Progressive policies aren't necessarily bad. I'll go ahead and hang myself for saying that I think health care was a pretty good idea. I don't agree with how it was brought about and I think the Senate's bill is extremely flawed at best. I doubt that passing a Health Care Bill insinuates that Obama plans to be president for life, or that it will spark a rise in Communism in the United States. We've had enough of that in the 1950's with McCarthy.

    35. Vaughn, Alaska says:

      I really don't understand people who claim that monopolies and big business "enslave" and crucify people. Nobody ever forces you to buy a product that they are producing. If you're not being forced to buy something (like this new health care plan), then you're not a slave. If anything monopolies PROMOTE innovation, and I'll explain why.

      People have the option to purchase an alternative solution, invest their money in alternative ideas, and come up with a new and innovative idea to compete with any monopoly. Look at the telecommunications industry for example. Delivering phone service can be done via digital signal now instead of analog because people were tired of paying into local exchange carriers. Innovation does happen all the time. Federal regulation and government control stifle innovation because they allow people to be comfortable with mediocre goods and services instead of encouraging new and innovative ideas. The government also discourages the necessary economic risk/investment required to carry out a new idea by taxing taxing taxing. Who wants to risk their money for a new idea when you have so little of it to spare?

      New Deal… more like New Steal.

    36. John Clancy, Wyandot says:

      Barbara Ward, a very good historian, shows in her book Faith and Freedom how much freedom depends upon faith in God. Freedom was slowly and painfully born in the western world through the influence of Christianity (in spite of its weaknesses as an institution).

      Though our founding fathers understood the connection between faith and freedom, whether they were Deists or Christians, their principles of government rested on this idea. They knew the classics They knew the nature of human beings, their dependence on God and His laws, natural and revealed. They knew that power tends to corrupt; hence the need for checks and balances.

      While denying or ignoring faith, the left moves more and more to deny our freedoms. They ultimately strive to be, in effect, Gods. And those of us who turn from faith in a transcendent God inevitably allow the government to control our lives and ultimately our freedoms. Tragically, the present the leftist government of the United States has quickened the pace in this destructive dynamic.

    37. Clint, Dallas says:

      For those concerned about his votes, FWIW, here's his rationale for those votes:

      TARP – http://www.house.gov/ryan/press_releases/2008pres

      He did, I see, vote against the second TARP installment.

      Auto bailout – http://www.house.gov/ryan/press_releases/2008pres

    38. Joanne, Westerville says:

      Paul Ryan……..FOR PRESIDENT!!!

    39. Al Alfonso says:

      Amazing what happens when agendas are brought to the light of day…these people are held accountable. The American people were treated to a "bait and switch" election in 08 but 2010 will be different.

    40. jill -Maine says:

      I don't agree with the comment about Ron paul being so great. I just heard this week that he blames our presence in Irag and Afganistan for the terrorism directed at US. Didn't he know about 911?

    41. Mike says:

      I'm so glad, privileged, honored, and excited to have Paul as my congressman.

    42. Edith Driver, Hanfor says:

      We need more Paul Ryans!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so impressed with him during the health debate.

    43. Pingback: William P. Bernsen » Blog Archive » Congressman Paul Ryan for President?

    44. Joe, Savannah says:

      Paul Ryan and George W Bush extended a hand to the banks and GM because we were in a "Perfect Storm". The fall of 2008 was somewhat of a special time. President Bush did not want these entities to fail at that particular fragile time. So he decided to give them loans. This was not unprecedented in our history. However, the true progressive, Barrack Obama, took it to a draconian level. He gave them an offer they could refuse and then took them over. This is statism and progressivism. I applaud Paul Ryan for his efforts. Paul Ryan for Governor of Wisconsin and President down the road (2020).

    45. DeeAnne Hedrick-Acwo says:

      I received a ballot in the mail today. I feel we sincerely need to make Medicare/Medicaid and the Social Security programs stronger. We need to keep the increases that so much helped when the cost of living went up, the medical care was there and on the up and up when it came to the care. Now, no money to look forward to when the cost of living goes up, they are trying to do away with programs to help those on SSI and Social Security…and you can feel the difference in the care you receive. I should know because I'm on Supplemental Security Income(SSI). The human race and animals need to be protected…most of all, our Declaration of Independence and other items that were in place years ago shouldn't be tampered with like they have…after these were in place things worked for so many years, then people wanted to tamper with it and it went haywire. Wake up everybody and pull together…lets make our voices heard. We need less tampering with the countryside as well. When all of these things are in place, it worked and worked well…then the greed took over and all of this progression of building and cutting down our forrests,etc.. I have a question…Why are we allowing this to be done without voices heard about how we feel. Deer and other wildlife used to only be killed for food…now it has become a sport that allows waste…so sad. Yes, I';m very opinionated but you have to admit I have made some good points. My opinion is no way a personal attack on nobody so please don't feel like it is. I just had to get my opinion out there for I've been quiet for way too long. Thank you for reading this and God Bless everyone.

    46. Pingback: BlueRidgeForum » Two (!) Complementary GOP Responses to Obama Last Night

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