According to R.J. Pestritto, author of American Progressivism, “America’s original Progressives were also its original, big-government liberals.” They set the stage for the New Deal principles of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who cited the progressives – especially Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson – as the major influences on his ideas about government. The progressives, Pestritto says, wanted “a thorough transformation in America’s principles of government, from a government permanently dedicated to securing individual liberty to one whose ends and scope would change to take on any and all social and economic ills.” In the progressive worldview, the proper role of government was not to confine itself to regulating a limited range of human activities as the founders had stipulated, but rather to inject itself into whatever realms the times seemed to demand. The progressives reasoned that although America's founders had felt it necessary to limit the power of government because of their experience with King George III, government, as a result of historical evolution, was no longer the menace it once had been; rather, they believed government had become capable of solving an ever-greater array of societal problems -- problems the founders could never have envisioned. Consequently, the progressives called for a more activist government whose regulation of people's lives was properly determined not by the outdated words of an anachronistic Constitution, but by whatever the American people seemed to need at any given time. This perspective dovetailed with the progressives' notion of an “evolving” or “living” government, which, like all living beings, could rightfully be expected to grow and to adapt to changing circumstances. Similarly, progressives also coined the term “living Constitution,” connoting the idea that the U.S. Constitution is a malleable document with no permanent guiding principles -- a document that must, of necessity, change with the times. R.J. Pestritto writes that the Progressives “detested the Declaration of Independence, which enshrines the protection of individual natural rights (like property) as the unchangeable purpose of government; and they detested the Constitution, which places permanent limits on the scope of government and is structured in a way that makes the extension of national power beyond its original purpose very difficult.” Given their contempt for those documents, the progressives' mission was to progress, or move beyond, the principles laid out by the founders. In 1913, the progressive historian Charles Beard published An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, which offered a Marxist view of history and smeared the captains of industry. It also portrayed America's founding fathers as basically selfish men who had established a form of government that they thought would benefit them, and only them, financially. From Beard's premise, it was a short logical leap to discredit the Constitution itself as “essentially an economic document” unworthy of the lasting reverence of legislators, judges, or ordinary citizens. Woodrow Wilson likewise gave voice to the progressive antipathy for America's founding documents when he said that “if you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface” – i.e. that part of the Declaration which states that the only legitimate purpose of government, regardless of time or place, is to secure the natural rights of the individual. By Wilson's calculus, the truly vital portion of the Declaration was the latter part, where it enumerates a litany of time-specific grievances against George III. Wilson suggested that "we are not bound to adhere to the doctrines held by the signers of the Declaration of Independence," and that the Fourth of July, rather than celebrate the Declaration's timeless principles, should instead "be a time for examining our standards, our purposes, for determining afresh what principles, what forms of power we think most likely to effect our safety and happiness." Whereas classical liberalism saw government as a necessary evil whose involvement in social and private affairs needed to be limited wherever practicable, progressivism saw the state as the rightful overseer and regulator of significant portions of American social and economic life. To compensate for the inequities of capitalism in industrial-age America, Progressives favored a government empowered to redistribute private property under the banner of social justice. R.J. Pestritto compares and contrasts progressivism and socialism: "Since the Progressives had such a limitless view of state power, and since they wanted to downplay the founders’ emphasis on individual rights, it is only natural to ask if they subscribed to socialism.... "[We must] bear in mind that there was an actual socialist movement during the Progressive Era, and prominent progressives such as Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt were critics of it. In fact, Wilson and Roosevelt both ran against a socialist candidate in the 1912 election (Eugene Debs). The progressives were ambivalent about the socialist movement of their day not so much because they disagreed with it in principle, but because the American socialist movement was a movement of the lower classes. The progressives were elitists; they looked down their noses at the socialists, considering them a kind of rabble. "Keeping these points in mind, it is, nonetheless, the case that the progressive conception of government closely coincided with the socialist conception. Both progressivism and socialism champion the prerogatives of the state over the prerogatives of the individual. Wilson himself made this connection very plain in a revealing essay he wrote in 1887 called 'Socialism and Democracy.' Wilson’s begins this essay by defining socialism, explaining that it stands for unfettered state power, which trumps any notion of individual rights. It 'proposes that all idea of a limitation of public authority by individual rights be put out of view,' Wilson wrote, and 'that no line can be drawn between private and public affairs which the State may not cross at will.' After laying out this definition of socialism, Wilson explains that he finds nothing wrong with it in principle, since it was merely the logical extension of genuine democratic theory." Discover the Networks Check out the Link. There is allot of background on the Site. What is your assessment? Legitimate or Hype? Why? Is the distinction between Classic Liberalism Fair? Accurate?