Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fascinating Focus Group Result

Byron York at the Washington Examiner (formerly of NR) reports that one particular word in a recent GOP group really moved the needle for independents and leaners. That word is "experiment", and led to the recent GOP ad against Obamacare. While the focus group results are somewhat interesting and useful in their own right as a short-term matter, the results speak to a broader issue.

Here's the fascinating part -- "experimentation" was a key component of the international progressive movement in the early 20th century. Many Soviet projects (and indeed, the whole Bolshevik government) and Italian Fascist programs were referred to as "experiments" in accordance with an atmosphere of (quasi-) scientific technocrat-ism. And they weren't just referred to as experiments by the experimenters, but also Americans who visited and observed these experiments, including W. E. B. DuBois and some of FDR's Brain Trust-ers.

I don't want to ring the death knell of progressivism prematurely, but I find it interesting that such a philosophically charged word is, at least for now, toxic.

2 comments:

Samay said...

Whoa, since when is Mussolini "progressive"? He moved to restore the church's position in Italian government, and granted big business huge powers in organizing and regulating their own industries.

Of course, by that measure you could call the Geithner-Summers banking welfare program "progressive" too.

JoeCollins said...

granted big business huge powers in organizing and regulating their own industries.

So did FDR.