01/25/2013 03:41 pm ET Updated Mar 27, 2013

The Forces of Socioeconomic Darkness

More than anything, Obama's inaugural address reminds us that human progress is under perennial attack. For the POTUS to consider it necessary to recite the history of American progressive thought that has led the creation of the world's most admired, most envied, and most hated nation spells out that fact. It was an acknowledgement that the philosophies and social policies that created the world's only current superpower are at domestic political risk.

It's hard to understand what it is about our national success that some find so offensive that they mean to fix it by destroying the social and economic policies that were the foundation of that success. Our government has operated on the same socioeconomic principles kindled a hundred years ago by progressive Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt. FDR, a Democrat, formalized the New Deal social contract by which we now live. LBJ expanded that social contract to attempt creation of a "Great Society." Through the span of influence of these men, America prospered more, with prosperity compounding prosperity, than any country ever before in human history. The eons of wealth, knowledge and technology being hoarded by kings and plutocrats appeared to be ending with the simple progressive truth that better for everyone is better for all, even the rich. Now it seems there is some reason to doubt the existential fact of that stupendous success.

Economic records and arithmetic argue that there is no reason to doubt progressive economic policy. Unions and direct government action counter the plague of mankind on itself -- greed. Unions may grow corrupt in their power but so do employers. It is the function of a government intended by its Constitution to ensure the common welfare to correct the excesses of either labor or management. That we have to be schooled in this by a president who has turned over every political rock in Washington to try and find an honest public servant with whom to strike a deal on economic recovery is abysmal. It's abysmal because I know damn good and well that everyone in Washington had an education in the same system that taught me the relentlessly progressive history of our land.

We have been born, lived and died under progressive guidance in government for a hundred years, or more if you count Lincoln, even more if you count Jefferson. The path to where we were a decade ago was hewn not by Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, nor business or labor but by progressive thought. The path since Bush 43 has been altered by recidivist conservative activism bent on undoing at least the last eighty years of human progress.

Americans had every right to believe that Social Security and Medicare were a done deal, unalienable rights reconciled in law. We had every right to believe that we would be protected from poison foods and dangerous working conditions and financial fraud. We had even begun to believe that we could share the cost of care for our disabled and poor. We, because of labor law, social insurance into which we all bought, banking regulation and civil rights guarantees, began to believe that we were really free to pursue happiness, free from the tyranny of elemental human injustice.

But in the last two or three decades, out of ignorance and denial, a rump party of social conservatives and radical fiscal conservatives has raised a threat to the foundation of our shared and mutually legislated progressive security. Theirs is not a considered opinion on how to operate a government to the benefit of the governed. Theirs is an opinion on the need to force the governed to conform to the wishes of a backwards minority of the governed.

Obama confronted his Tea Party opposition directly in his inaugural speech. He confronted them by reminding them of the existential facts of America, the philosophy on which we based severance with monarchy, the progressive social remedies that have benefited our economy, and the basic fact of our commitment to the proposition that all men are created equal. This latter fact, through progressive interpretation of presidents, legislatures and courts has come to mean both that no one man can be denied his civil rights by government and that no one man can dictate to government. Obama reminded the rump radical conservatives that the America for which they long has never existed. The speech was also a reminder that anything that man can do can be put asunder by other men, even the America anyone now living has ever known.