We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future
by Matthew Spalding
GLENN: Well, I decided Fusion magazine is my monthly magazine and we decided to do a double issue. And we're doing it on progressivism. So it's a primer. So you will be able to understand what it is, that way you don't have to go out and, you know, do all the work. If you get Fusion magazine this coming month will be a whole issue with extra pages just on the progressive movement. And I have some of the best minds on the progressive movement involved. We've asked some of the best people to write on it. Matthew Spalding is one of those guys. We asked him to write on the remaking of America, which is one of my favorite phrases from Barack Obama. We're not restoring. We're not rebuilding. We're remaking America. He is author of We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future. Matthew Spalding is with us. Matthew, how are you, sir?
SPALDING: I'm fine, Glenn, how are you?
GLENN: I'm very good. Would you say that I how far off the marker do you agree with what I just said about, that is the cancer in America is the progressive movement?
SPALDING: You are absolutely right, and I think the key is if you want to there are a lot of things going on right now. It's very confusing, where are we going. If you want a framework for thinking this through, in the shorthand it's basically we live in a world where we have a battle. We're outnumbered and it's basically the founders and self evident truth and the Constitution against this idea of progressivism and liberalism, which is a complete rejection of those ideas. And what we're talking about right now is who's going to win out, what's our future, where are we going. And you've got to understand that. If you don't understand that, we're just going to go float along the river and you know what we're going to do? We're going to become Europe. We're going to be a dead culture. That's our future: Look over at Europe. That's where we're going.
GLENN: Now, the progressive movement, this is so insidious, Matthew, because it is the only ones who have ever written anything about our history, I mean, for instance, and I don't want to get into this, but Woodrow Wilson nobody knows anything about. One evil son of a bitch. And nobody knows it. Nobody really knows what the progressive movement is because they've controlled history.
SPALDING: They've written the history, that's right.
GLENN: Yeah. And so you don't see what's coming. But once you start to go in for instance, I don't know if you're familiar. Are you familiar with Philip Dru: Administrator, the novel?
SPALDING: Yes, it's written by Colonel House anonymously about a dictator.
GLENN: Look at how excited he gets, such geeks, Matthew, such geeks.
SPALDING: It's great stuff, but you are absolutely right. Once you kind of see their vision, these guys wanted to fundamentally remake America and they set about doing it, and the beauty of reading these old books from these old guys is that back in those days they were very clear about what they were doing. Today progressive thinkers are very
SPALDING: Cagey, right? So you go back and see what they said. When they are clear, kind of tells you what's going on here because Barack Obama studied this stuff. He says so in one of his two autobiographies. He studied the progressive and Herbert Croley. He called himself a progressive. He knows what he's doing.
GLENN: Yeah. It's amazing because, Matthew, back around the turn of the century they I mean, this is the time when they were saying, you know, Mussolini, he's a good guy! This is the new wave of government.
SPALDING: That's right.
GLENN: And so there was no shame. But as soon as the idea of a dictator went awry, they went underground and then they hid it. But isn't this, Matthew, when you Philip Dru: Administrator is a novel from Wilson's time, one of Wilson's advisors. This guy played a huge role in the making of America, or the remaking of America.
GLENN: And it is the czar system. It's what Obama's doing with the car industry right now.
SPALDING: That's right. That particular novel suggests that this guy becomes dictator and he essentially imposes what was the 1912 platform of the Republican Party which was the progressive party at the time. There's amazing parallels today. As a matter of fact, if you look at all the things we're talking about today, healthcare reform, national service, taking over car companies and banks, all of these things have amazingly deep parallels back to the progressive movement. It's as if their agenda was written for them back in the 1920s.
GLENN: I contend, Matthew, I contend that it was. I contend that everything that is happening now, this is that there is no and I don't know anybody who has done this. Maybe you do. I contend that if you go back and you start with Barack Obama and you look at who's influenced him and who influenced them and who influenced them, you will go back to these authors, the same people. It's the same group of people. They've been educating each other and moving it along little by little, bit by bit.
SPALDING: Well, just to fill in the blanks very quickly, you had the progressive movement at the beginning. They kind of get pushed back from World War I. They come back again the New Deal. Very clearly they understood that the New Dealers understood themselves as progressives. That Peters out, but it comes back in spades in the Great Society. The roots of the Great Society are clearly in the progressives. They talk about creating a great society. That kind of falls back. You get Reagan coming into kind of get us back on track. Obama clearly sees himself, he always talks about himself as carrying on tradition of the Great Society but especially FDR. But behind that intellectually is the progressive movement. Liberalism comes into America in waves, one, two, three, and now we're in a fourth wave. This is an agenda over time to fundamentally remake America and we've got to understand that.
GLENN: So Matthew, the president says we are going to remake America. I have been ringing the bell since his inauguration when he said those words, and listen to what he is saying! He again is I think not as cagey as others are. He will use the language of the progressive movement from the early 20th century. He says them which, to me if you understand, it's code language. If you know what he's talking about, you know, "Oh, dear God, I know what's coming."
SPALDING: Well, it's also the fact that I see Obama as he's very intelligent, he knows what he's doing. I think he's the most serious liberal progressive political figure in America since FDR, and he means to seriously change American politics is a serious fundamentally realigned way which will determine a large segment of our future.
GLENN: I tell you I think FDR had some restraint. I don't know if it was personal restraint, but he had the opportunity to become dictator and he didn't. And I think he was a bad dude. Don't get me wrong. But I think Wilson I think Obama does not have that restraint. I think this administration is
SPALDING: He doesn't need to because he can know build on the successes of the past, right? It's completely open to him. No longer is there a court to check him. No longer is there Republican opposition which is willing to stand up to him, seriously in an intellectual and political way. And no longer do we have the kind of self governing spirited population that sees what it is. I mean, we've got a lot of work here. He's got an open playing field right now.
GLENN: So Matthew, I mean, this is why I did the Fusion issue and had people like you and Jonah Goldberg and everybody else write about the progressives in a historic sort of way and tie it to today. What is if you could get one message out to America, and they're like, "I don't know anything about progressives. I mean, they do auto insurance and I guess a few candidates." What is it that you would say, "You must understand this one thing"?
SPALDING: If I can I would say it's two things. One is a complete and utter intellectual and moral rejection of the principles of the founding, complete relativism. There is no truth. That's one thing. The second thing
GLENN: Wait, wait. Before you move on from that.
GLENN: Explain that a little bit because I've heard that before but until I read the words of the progressive movement where they dismantle, where they said forget about the Declaration of Independence, forget about parts of the Constitution, the preamble of the Constitution and forget about the, you know, that it's a living document. Until I actually read what they said, I didn't really understand that. Can you give an example here?
SPALDING: The whole notion of limited government depends upon us having rights granted to us by God that we each possess. If there is no moral truth behind that, there is nothing that limits government. That's what progressivism means. What they said very clearly because they went over and studied with these really bad German philosophers and they came back and they had discovered the new truth that there was no permanent enduring timeless truth, no self evident truths as it says in the declaration. Carl Becker, one of the great historians wrote to ask whether the declaration is true or not is a meaningless question. They are relativists at their core. All truths are merely relative to one another. You like ice cream, I like eating small children, all right? It doesn't matter. Once you've accepted that philosophical assumption, there are no limits on government, the Constitution is living, the president can do whatever he wants. None of this matters.
GLENN: So it's really not
SPALDING: All for the sake of progress: Progress will save us.
GLENN: It's not that they hate God or they, you know, they love pedophiles. It's that if they can destroy the concept of God or if they can destroy the self evident truth that you're endowed by rights, then they grab control.
SPALDING: Because there's nothing left to prevent them from doing so.
SPALDING: It's not that they want to do these things but they are impelled to do them because there's no other truth out there.
SPALDING: And if there's no truth, we must be completely tolerant, we must be completely equal. The only way we can do it is we must have government to make us do it.
GLENN: So in other words, again when you say this, I'm hoping that a lot of people will remember the words of the president where he said, "I don't want to take over these car companies. I don't want to do this."
GLENN: I was left with this job. Now I have to do it, and the only way, the only entity that can save these things is the government.
SPALDING: Is the government, that's right. And when he says remake America, you have to understand that what he means is he wants to get rid of, put back on the history books the always old notions of self evident truths and limited government to the Constitution. That's old school. He wants to get rid of that. In its place we have this new administrative government, and a lot of this culminates, and this is a key aspect of this, a lot of it culminates in Barack Obama himself. His narcissism, the notion that he is kind of the culmination of history, right? That itself is a very progressive concept. That's what Woodrow Wilson thought, right? These great historical figures are absolutely key. And that's what Barack Obama sees himself as. He is leading us into the future.
GLENN: If I'm not mistaken, Woodrow Wilson went so far as saying that God cannot be stopped and that America, when they voted down progressivism and they voted down the League of Nations, et cetera, et cetera, that these all, all these things came from God and he knew it, and God would not be stopped.
SPALDING: That's right. The early progressives were actually, interestingly enough very much influenced by a religious concept. But their religious concept is not God in the (inaudible) sense in any way, it really means history, kind of in a, God takes on this notion of the invisible forces of history taking us into the future. And you need somebody to lead us there. And so Woodrow Wilson was the great leader, the same way that Barack Obama being perfectly progressive is the one who, he has the vision to see where we're going. And so only he can lead us there. That's the beauty of it.
GLENN: Okay. Hold on just a second, Matthew. I appreciate it. Matthew Spalding. In Fusion magazine Matthew writes a great article on the remaking of America, keyword "Remaking" of America. Jonah Goldberg is also writing for it. R. J. Pestritto who is this really smart dude, professor. Where is he a professor of?
SPALDING: Hillsdale college.
GLENN: Hillsdale. Really smart guy. You can get an expanded edition of Fusion magazine by call 888 Glenn Beck or go to GlennBeck.com. It is next month's issue.