A great democracy has got to be progressive, or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy."

- Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

29 May 2011

Theodore Roosevelt, the 21st Century, and You

By Hannah Miyamoto - HONOLULU (revised 21 Feb. 2012)

Recently, a quote credited to Theodore Roosevelt about corporations constituting an "invisible government" was circulated by Facebook users. This obscure quote appears to have risen into public consciousness (e.g., MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan blog, 2 Dec. 2010) largely because Wikileaks's Julian Assange (see also note below) reportedly used it in an anarchist manifesto he wrote in 2006.

A quick review of these and related links shows that the Assange-Roosevelt connection was soon lost; Ratigan made no mention of Assange, even though he probably found that quote from the Common Dreams article about Assange. The "Theodore Roosevelt magic" is definitely still alive.

Why is a "dead White male," the son of Harvard privilege, a one-term president who passed away nearly a century ago, attracting steadily more attention by political commentators in the United States today? The answer is not the significance of the man--even while his visage looks down from Mount Rushmore--but the similarities between America during his life--the nation that made him its most inspirational leader--and the nation in which we live and struggle today.
In suggesting that the times of Roosevelt and us are similar, I am not making some Nostradamus-like statement that history is repeating itself in toto. In particular, I do not think that humanity is less than six years from another appallingly-destructive World War, as it was when Roosevelt's presidency ended. Rather, I think the major challenges facing the American people are largely due to the failure of people to remember the hard and often bloody lessons won in the late 19th and early 20th centuries within their society.

Recognizing the significance of Roosevelt to our times, the "National Progressive Review" will focus on these lessons from the Progressive Era and the decades before, with the goal of educating readers so they are better prepared to initiate a successful Second Progressive Revolution that not only protects the achievements of the first Progressive Era, as well as the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society (e.g., "Medicare") of the 1960s, but creates a new equilibrium of social order and justice in the United States that fulfills the dreams--like the desire of both President Roosevelt's for a universal national health insurance program--of Americans before us.
In editorial direction, the "National Progressive Review" will echo the "National Progressive Party" that Theodore Roosevelt led in 1912, which is the real reason for its name. As has been explained before, and will be discussed in greater detail here in the future, the progressivism of the "National Progressive Party" was distinctly different from at least five other approaches. However, the "National Progressive Review" believes that the Roosevelt approach is the best model to use in restoring America as a commonwealth of shared prosperity.
In addition, just as "Feminism" arose in America as part of the Progressive movement, the National Progressive Review will be unreservedly feminist.

Any similarity with the conservative "National Review," founded by William F. Buckley, is purely intentional. Any similarity with Progressive Insurance, owner of progressive.com, is purely unintentional.

Lastly, your comments and submissions of editorial content are graciously welcome. Please e-mail them to Hannah Miyamoto, hsmiyamoto@msn.com. In addition, please help support the National Progressive Review by clicking on the adjacent advertising links.


NOTE: Roosevelt, incidentally, would have never approved of Assange, nor his claim that the Government is itself a threat to the People. In fact, as this 1908 New York Times article shows, Roosevelt strongly condemned anarchism and supported strong laws against using the U.S. mail to send messages supporting "murder, arson, and treason." Of course, when  Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Rosa Luxemburg were alive along with Roosevelt, "anarchism" was a much more vital political force than now.

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