Most people have now caught on to how progressive ideology has inched its way into American life through critical race theory and gender ideology. However, few are aware of how America has been radically transformed over a period of time. People notice the adverse effects but cannot connect the dots back to progressivism.
Rivers of Change
The roots of modern progressivism date to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It has marched steadily through the culture, sidelined only by periods of war and conservative backlash like the Reagan era. However, progressivism didn’t become fully mainstream until the 1960s. Several trends coalesced into a steady river of change that transformed America at its core during this period.
[substack align=”right”]The first and most obvious one of these was the sexual revolution. Feminists were hounding women everywhere to get out of the home and into the workplace to replace children and family with careers and promiscuity. While celebrated as a moment of liberation by progressives, it had unintended consequences. With swaths of women leaving their homes to seek employment, salaries came under pressure due to labor competition. Together with globalization, the result has been that the average real wages of ordinary Americans have not increased since their peak in the early 1970s.
Second, the progressive elites did not just look down on family and motherhood but also on manual labor. Therefore, they promoted the idea that getting a college or university degree was the only way to be fully human. Their promotion of higher education was a success. Many American families worked hard to give their children opportunities they didn’t have in their youth.
The problem is that there wasn’t a market for all these newly educated people. Furthermore, universities were previously institutions for the brightest, who are scarce and far between. Insisting on pushing ordinary people into higher education meant lowering the standards.
The problem was solved in roughly the same way both in Europe and America, namely through public grants to expand administration. K-12 education costs have risen 250% since the 1960s, and almost all the extra money has gone to hiring administrators. However, higher education is where such costs genuinely shine. In the last 50 years, college tuition has skyrocketed 3,000%, according to data from The College Board.
Administrators also have seeped out of education into the broader public. One of these areas is Urban Planning, which is almost synonymous with urban densification and attempts to halt suburban sprawl, which, in turn, equals increased housing costs. Their primary enemy is the car, and therefore they want fewer roads and cars and more public transport. That’s why there is a near-perfect correlation between increased cost of living and urban planning.
Consider Portland, OR, with only 650,000 citizens. It has a population density of 4,890 people per square foot, and the average house costs $565,000. Houston, TX, by contrast, has a nearly four times greater population of 2.3 million but only 3,598 people per square foot and housing costs of only $327,000. The difference can be attributed to decades of urban planning by progressive administrators in Portland, while Houston prioritized building roads and looser building codes. Portland might be more picturesque, but Houston is more affordable.
Urban planning, increased administration costs in many industries, and no wage growth due to globalization and the influx of women into the workplace have pushed the cost of living in America up so high that most people must have two incomes where one salary sufficed in the 1960s.
Consequently, many people either opt out of having children altogether or send their kids to kindergartens and schools filled with progressives who teach the children that America is systemically racist and that gender is a social construct.
The river of progressivism moved so slowly that barely anyone noticed how it seeped into every nook and corner of America. Where before there was a land of opportunity, the stream of progressive ideology that flooded the nation has created swamps.