OPINION by KEITH GURNEE
The stunning rise of the local new Progressive movement looks like it may be matched only by its pending rapid decline. Its cause? An emerging public perception of the movement’s hypocrisy, it’s single-minded ideology, and its self-destructive overconfidence.
The previous chapters of the national Progressive movement led to some great things in American history. The original Progressive era championed by President Teddy Roosevelt from 1901-1908 was highly effective and left lasting improvements in American lives.
The second era of progressivism that came with the civil rights, anti-war, and environmental movements of the 1960s-70s also made lasting inroads to change. When I served on the San Luis Obispo City Council while in my 20s, I was a proud member of that movement.
Now comes this latest era of progressivism. Spurred by Bernie Sanders’ race for President, it originally showed signs of real promise to its followers. Uber-liberals fully embraced their own brand of radical Progressivism, and when Trump edged out Clinton, it went into hyper-drive.
Locally, it hit its high-water mark with the ascendancy of Heidi Harmon as mayor of San Luis Obispo, the 2017 “Women’s March”, and the 2017 “Putsch” by neo-Progressives who seized control of our county’s Democratic Central Committee. The self-appointed leaders of the “Progressives” like Harmon and liberal flamethrowers Tom Fulks, Aaron Ochs, and Nick Andre quickly puffed themselves up with their own self-importance.
Movement leaders have since “girded their loins” to take on anyone not in lockstep with their point of view, only to plant the seeds of their own demise. The recent self-immoliation of self-styled Progressive Supervisor Adam Hill, the self-serving din of Fulks’ rants in the Tribune, and Heidi Harmon’s determination to impose her ideology over San Luis Obispo’s historic neighborhoods has given would-be supporters serious pause. As a result, those over-the-top “leaders” have plotted their own downward spiral towards irrelevance.
When the leaders of the 2018 “Women’s March” repurposed their so-called march into an ideological political rally, the movement really showed its cards. Because of the emergence of that event’s single-minded partisan nature, some nonprofits pulled out of it.
Supposedly organized to encourage women running for office, march organizers endorsed 3 male candidates while opposing the only woman running for office, Supervisor Lynn Compton. What hypocrisy!
This new brand of Progressives is not about representative democracy. Just look at what our “Progressive” City Council did in imposing its will on the Anholm neighborhood with its Bike Boulevard proposal, despite the fact that 3 out of 4 residents of that neighborhood opposed what the city was trying to do.
Instead, what this movement is about is an ideological dictatorship determined to force its will upon the rest of us. They profess to know what’s best for us. They’re determined to change our lives over our objections while stifling any alternative points of view. They don’t listen, they just act regardless of the consequences.
As a result, the public has been able to witness the hijacking of what was a once-promising movement by a pack of blatantly partisan political hacks. The politically correct have over-corrected, and in the process, they’re threatening the future of the Democratic Party.
Liberal friends of mine who originally embraced the movement are now distancing themselves from it. Their primary reasons? The movement’s unprincipled, distorted, and arrogant tactics in trying to impose an ideological dictatorship upon us all.
Sound familiar? Ring a bell? Will we allow history to repeat itself once again?