A New Progressive Era?

I challenge you to keep reading after this: I’m going to say a word that is going to make all my conservative readers squeamish… Progressive. Now that we have that out of the way, let us get down to defining “progressive”. I’m not talking the cover word for liberal politics. I believe we are on the cusp of entering a new Progressive Era. A bi-partisan era of reform. People are sick and tired of “politics as usual,” and soon people will mobilize (as some already are) for substantial political reforms that will change the way politicians do business.

The Progressive Era harkens back to the turn of the 20th century. Political machines were at the height of their power, wasting government money, taking kick-backs and personal favors, and using their positions in the government to advance their own interests. Fiscal policy needed changes, as did the corrupt leadership of both political parties. Great strides were certainly made, but leave it up to the politicians to find their way around the new reforms. That is where we are situated today. Politicians have wasted enough money to drive us 13.5 (and nearing 14) trillion dollars in debt. The two political parties may have different ideologies, but their means of constantly working for re-election and personal gain are one in the same. And “We the People” have caught on to their act.

You needn’t look much further than the last election to see the thirst for reform. Both Florida and many counties in Wisconsin voted on ballot initiatives (a Progressive Era reform) to improve the way the government operates. In Florida, a generally liberal coalition put together an initiative to reform the way the state re-districts after the census, attempting to eliminate the partisan gerrymandering that still frequently occurs. In Wisconsin, a generally conservative coalition put an initiative on many ballots that asked voters how they felt about the governor “raiding” the transportation fund to pay for other programs. I am not advocating or opposing either of these initiatives, but citizens of both states agreed that it was time for some reformin’.

Additionally, the tea party movement has at times exhibited flashes of reformist enthusiasm, like banning earmarks and cutting government waste. President Obama has also recently announced his support for cutting back the earmark debacle. Reform is not limited to either political party, but must occur in both. Without real reform, we will follow our leaders down the current path, getting lost in the wilderness of fiscal insanity, government corruption, and partisan mess. Reform progressivism is here again, and all politicians stuck in “politics as usual” must watch out.