Progressive Thought Defined

I happened upon a story yesterday where Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer argues that the founding fathers were not necessarily in favor of the second amendment, and only included it in the bill of rights to appease the states.


After reading through the article, and getting past the initial shock of what Breyer says about the second amendment, one can see that he spells out the progressive ideals of government.

I have been asked to define what a progressive is in the past and struggled to get the point across without having an example that someone can relate to.  I think this is a great case study to get the point across. Progressives take the theory of evolution and apply it to morality and the society. They believe that society evolves and that laws that were made in the past are not necessarily needed in the same form today. Laws are not static. They are dynamic and subject to change with the circumstances.

Justice Breyer gives us the perfect example. He claims that there is a basis for saying that gun control laws and bans are legal:

That being the case, and particularly since the Founding Fathers did not foresee how modern-day would change individual behavior, government bodies can impose regulations on guns, Breyer concluded.

The key phrase is “the Founding Fathers did not foresee how modern-day would change individual behavior.” Breyer, like other progressives, believes that as human behavior evolves, safeguards against tyranny become obsolete.

Breyer, who just published “Making Our Democracy Work,” a book about the role of the court in American life, outlined his judicial philosophy as one in which the court must take a pragmatic approach in which it “should regard the Constitution as containing unwavering values that must be applied flexibly to ever-changing circumstances.” 

Anyone that is aware of the many dictatorships and other violations of human rights across the globe knows that Justice Breyer doesn’t get out much. Justice Breyer is well-meaning, but I dare to bluntly put it, dumb. Maybe too dumb to hold his position….

Another belief that progressives hold is that since human behavior evolves, the more intelligent among us must lead society to its future. This is a very dangerous belief. This is where you get statements like Bill Maher’s that said this about Obamacare: “the people are too stupid to understand it. They need to be dragged to it.”

Justice Breyer uses this argument when saying that James Madison believed in gun control, but had to appease the fears of the states that thought the federal government would seize control of the national guard. He said that Madison included the second amendment just so he could get the Constitution ratified. What justice Breyer is doing is giving a greater to one man, James Madison, over the will of the people and their elected state representatives. This is a promotion of oligarchy. Breyer knows the power of words. He is invoking the phrase “founding fathers” when talking of the singular man (Madison) to gain legitimacy for his dissent on gun control laws.

I’d like to thank Justice Breyer for giving me this clear-cut definition and case study for progressive thought. I’ll be watching.