The principles and policies of America’s original progressives have received renewed attention over the last decade, both in academia and in public discourse. Today’s progressive politicians and intellectuals have pointed to their roots in the original progressive movement; moreover, the connections between the original progressive calls for reform and the language and shape of our politics today have become increasingly obvious. In what follows, the relevance of original progressivism to government today will be more fully explored. There is no better place to begin than with our administrative state. This essay deals with the general principles of the administrative state and its roots in the original progressive movement.
The term “administrative state” has come to have a variety of meanings, but at its core it points to the situation in contemporary American government, created largely although not entirely by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, whereby a large, unelected bureaucracy is empowered with significant governing authority. The fundamental question for many of those making reference to an “administrative state” is how it can be squared with government by consent and with the constitutional separation-of-powers system.
The back-to-school mask wars have been heating up for weeks, but the Biden administration just took them to a whole new level. On Wednesday, the president ordered the US Department of Education to use all available measures to prohibit states from banning school mask mandates.
In his remarks, Biden decried the contentious school board meetings that have occurred in districts across the country as parents argue for and against school mask mandates. He indicated that the “intimidation and the threats we’re seeing across the country,” from concerned citizens who oppose mask mandates “are wrong. They’re unacceptable.”
The Framers left us a Constitution that gives powers and authority both to the national government and to the states. But the Constitution does not systematically expound on the nature and extent of those powers, nor does it offer a clear-cut rationale for what the states are supposed to do beyond checking national power – a theoretical deficiency rooted in political reality.
In order to combat the Chinese coronavirus and to save as many lives as possible, 42 states have issued stay at home orders, and another three have some parts of their states closed, in order to combat the Chinese coronavirus. All 50 states have schools closed. In addition, with the national emergency declared by President Donald Trump, including the overseas travel bans to China and Europe, social distancing, private sector testing and treatments being authorized on an emergency basis, the White House coronavirus task force has credited these closures in part with helping to slowing the total number of cases, which in turn has, according to the models touted by the medical community, already saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
Countries all over the world have resorted to similar national lockdowns in order to win the war on the virus. The unfortunate side effect of the closures is the U.S. and global economies have effectively been shut down except for essential services, resulting in exceptionally high levels of unemployment. In the U.S., anywhere from 17 million to 20 million jobs have already been lost, with many more to come for every week the economy remains closed.
Under the original Constitution, and even with its subsequent amendments, power was supposed to be distributed between the federal and state and local governments, with the idea that the national government would have the fewest powers to affect local administration except in certain areas.