The Progressive sees himself as a cog in a social machine, not as a self-reliant individual capable of producing his own prosperity in a society of free and cooperative traders. In order for a Progressive to be all right with the world, the entire world must first be all right...or at least there must be a social dream in place that makes the Progressive believe the entire world will be all right.
Just as it is impossible to imagine that a particular cog in a gear could work and succeed independently of the other cogs, so it is impossible for a Progressive to imagine his own success and happiness existing independently from the success and happiness of "the masses." So long as there exists a single, unprosperous individual among us, thinks the Progressive, none of us can be truly prosperous or truly happy.
The corollary to this mode of thinking is that all individuals must properly strive for the prosperity of all. There can be no child left behind. No senior lacking a comfortable pension. No sick person with a pre-existing condition lacking health care. No human being left unsatisfied.
Of course, there is a huge problem with such thinking: harsh reality. Neither as individuals nor as economic actors is it possible for us to satisfy others. Reality does not allow me to control your thoughts or your level of satisfaction, i.e., your happiness. I can only control how I think, what I feel and what I do.
Thus, the social programs Progressives devise to ensure the contentment and happiness of all are doomed from the start by the dual realities of nature and human nature. Even if it was possible to harness the entire human race in the service of the world's needy masses, the realities of time and resources would prevent the success of the endeavor.
"Need" is a function of the human imagination which is limitless. "Rich" and "Poor" are relative terms describing disparities in material possessions which are finite. Any attempt to satisfy "Need" by ending the disparity between "Rich" and "Poor" is impossibly absurd.
Moreover, unlike beasts of burden, human beings universally resent the bite of the bridle and the sting of the whip. Individual humans act with purpose toward achieving ends of their own making. Human beings forced or coerced to strive after ends devised for them by others will resist by becoming part of the problem, i.e., they will become unproductive and "needy," the very condition the system was designed in the first place to eliminate.
Progressivism is a syndrome of youth. By the time they have reached adulthood and have embarked on the very American tradition of "earning a living," most conservatives have become acquainted with and respectful of harsh reality. As a consequence, they have exorcized the mush of Progressivism from their minds.
If only my liberal friends would do the same. There is nothing more pitiful or more destructive to a society built upon the principles of private property and individual freedom than a graying Progressive who has not outgrown his or her youthful delusions, especially if this Progressive is elected to a position of authority.
Barack Obama is living proof of this truism.