Elizabeth Warren’s recent speech to set the waypoints for the progressive way forward reminds me of another journey she took us on. That journey is worth revisiting to remind us of her singular vision of progressivism, devoid of the 11 point window dressing.
As journeys are a metaphor for life, the road is often bumpy with the destinations few and far between. In life, the desire to succeed is frequently accompanied by the taste of failure. You push yourself to achieve your goals and find short lived rewards of accomplishment. You have worked hard for what you achieve and what you have. They are your rewards and your legacy that measure your success.
Yet the progressive view of success, the cycle of accomplishment and reward, is summed up by Elizabeth Warren’s previous statement:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you.
But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
No doubt the anti-corporate meme was well received by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which had many college aged supporters who eat up this idealistic rhetoric. To you, I ask you to examine Ms. Warren’s statement, considering an academic analogy instead of her corporate one. The quote would then state that you didn’t earn your grades, you got your grades because of someone else. You went to a school the rest of us paid to build. You paid your teachers and professors to teach you the correct principles and theories. Now answer this: did you earn your grades or did someone else?
The effect of Ms. Warren’s statement, and the goal of progressives, is to marginalize the successful efforts of innovators and entrepreneurs. Accompanying this is the refusal to praise the individual. When progressives make a concerted effort to diminish individual success and hard work, it appears they do not understand that those innovative individuals, willing to take a risk, are needed for societal advancement. Game changing innovation comes from these individuals, which has nothing to do with a lack of acknowledgment. Prior to Einstein, we knew about gravity, time, and space. However, he revolutionized physics by understanding and showing how they were related in his theories of relativity. Did someone else do this or did Einstein? Does the scientific community marginalize Einstein’s contribution and only pat themselves on the back, or do they praise Einstein as the one who revolutionized the science of physics.
With respect to entrepreneurial success, progressives display an unhealthy disdain for “corporations,” in addition to an ostensible lack of understanding of that which is a corporation. They target corporations because those are the faceless bane of society. Ms. Warren’s words – “you built a factory, you moved your goods, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea” – targets corporations as an umbrella for success, as if the end result of anyone striving to improve society is to create a corporation, build factories, and rule peoples’ lives – a Freudian slip reflecting the progressive desire to rule others. The great ideas that led to the societal advancements we enjoy today were born not of the desire to build factories but to improve the lives of everyday people.
Ms. Warren’s statement also shows the progressive praise of mediocrity. This view suggests we can continue to be a great nation with everyone contributing to the status quo and nothing more. A mentality advocating a circularity of circumstance: that which you have is what you have been given. This celebrates mediocrity by suggesting you cannot be rewarded for your effort in making that forward leap, especially if the advance can be monetized with the creation of a commercial product and despite the fact that many such products are enjoyed by the masses because they have made life easier. Progressives support this view and suppress those who create and implement change by demonizing them as unwilling to give back to society.
The progressive assertion that individual and entrepreneurial success is achieved in a vacuum, is ridiculous. No great business leader will tell you they didn’t seek help along the way. However, the distinction between progressive mediocrity and those who create change is the motivation and hunger to make a difference. This drive and determination is a rarity and comes from within the individual. Nobody can give them that. While this determination is good for society, progressives seek to diminish it, deflecting blame to an evil corporation that keeps the masses downtrodden. When in reality, it is the progressive ideology, and implementation thereof, that is responsible for promoting stagnation of the masses and taking away that which could be paid forward.
That’s where I stand. If I haven’t offended you, then I haven’t tried hard enough.