Having lived in the Portland, OR area for over twelve years, I am surrounded by progressives. Such individuals are deeply concerned about the environment, speak with perfect political correctness, are rabidly egalitarian, believe gun owners are stupid rednecks, and are statists to the core. Progressives are cocksure they are correct about everything when they are merely the kings and queens of received opinion. The attractiveness of progressivism is that it relieves people from having to think for themselves while making them believe they are intellectuals. Is there really such a being as a know-nothing intellectual? Yes, it’s called a progressive.
To gain a better understanding of progressivism, I highly recommend reading James Ostrowski’s masterful book Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America. In this book, Ostrowski hits a bullseye describing progressivism:
The progressive offers no plausible argument for his position. He does not and cannot proffer empirical data to support his view. And no amount of contrary evidence will change his mind! Why? Because progressivism, unlike liberalism, is not grounded in philosophy, logic, political science or economic theory. Rather, it springs from emotion or magical thinking. Just as a baby thinks he will disappear if he covers his eyes, the progressive thinks state force will improve life and believes this without evidence or logic and in the face of all contrary and obvious evidence of the failure of this approach.
For these reasons, some have called progressivism a mental illness. I prefer to view progressivism as a form of self-help therapy. The “illness” that progressive therapy seeks to cure is not necessarily a mental illness in the classic sense, but the pain and anxiety of living in a difficult, unpredictable and often hostile world where resources are scarce compared to human wants and needs and where the individual often feels powerless over events beyond his control. Woodrow Wilson himself described the goal of progressivism as helping the individual to deal with forces he “cannot alter, control or singly cope with.”