Obama, along with most other presidential candidates for the 2008 election, preferred to call himself a progressive rather than a liberal. There was a historic progressive movement which peaked decades ago and receded until only a few on the leftist fringe called themselves progressives. Now the term has made a major comeback. So, what does it mean?
Thomas Sowell defines that liberals are people who believe that people are naturally good while conservatives know that, alas, we are fundamentally bad. I will add my own definition for progressives - they are people who believe that they know more than anyone else who ever lived. Considering the way that the Obama administration is acting, it is hard to credit them with the slightest bit of humility.
There are six words that will not be heard as the Obama administration justifies its programs and policies, "This is what has worked before."
Take the stimulus. Various authorities including the CBO and Obama's own economic advisers say that stimulus spending has never worked in the past. It is late and targeted wrong. Instead of helping, it causes inflation and adds to the national debt. This has been true for small stimulus packages under Clinton and Bush as well as for massive ones such as the New Deal and Japan in the 1990s. Not one of them worked. So why did Obama insist that his stimulus would work when no other one has? The usual answer is we know what went wrong before and this time we will get it right. What is more, the process was so rushed that no one in Congress had a chance to read what they were voting on. Obama's people not only had to get it right for the first time ever, they insisted that it had to be done fast. No humility there.
When Obama took office the assumption was that a declining economy and massive budget deficits would make him wait at least a couple of years before trying to push universal health care and other reforms. His not-quite-a-state of the union speech proved that assumption wrong. He hasn't announced what he has in store for us but he is already budgeting for it.
The Obama administration is also planning on revamping and re-regulating our banking system, changing welfare, laying out a new national electric system, and restructuring the automotive industry. They are also planning to impose $80 billion a year carbon fees (taxes) on manufacturing and power generation.
Along with this we will see major redistribution of wealth. Salaries and bonuses are being capped. Taxes are being increased on some people and tax credits given to others in the interests of sharing the wealth.
Put it all together and you have a massive upheaval of society greater than the New Deal and the Great Society put together. And it's all being planned by a select group of progressives in back rooms (they've been holding secret meetings with Ted Kennedy's staff to plan health care for months).
Conservatives insist that major changes have to be approached slowly and carefully because of the problem of unintended consequences. The progressives scoff at that. They are so smart that they can reshape America and get everything right the first time. After all, they are the smartest people, ever.
Not everyone is buying this. Every time someone from the Obama administration announces a new policy the stock market has a historic drop. Wall Street has no faith in these guys. Do you?