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Today's Meaning of Term 'Progressivism' Is Really Regressivism

Originally Published in Newsmax on 7/7/21.

Today, if the word progressive is brought up in conversation, it is likely that your mind goes straight to politics. If your friend is a self-described progressive, then it follows that he or she is a far left Democrat and probably has political views that align more closely with AOC and her squad than with the more moderate members of the party.

Think socialism — free healthcare, universal base income, free tuition and higher taxes for the wealthy.

Right in the sense that this is the connotation the word now has colloquially. But wrong in the sense that the denotation of the word is actually something more like this: ''moving forward and onward'' or ''making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities.''

Today's progressivism, which embraces a welfare state and centralized economic planning reminiscent of collapsed communist regimes, is really regressivism. The advancements that helped America become an economic powerhouse are frowned upon, and these so-called progressives are intent on taking America back decades in time.

The term progressive to identify a political ideology is annoying. I am a progressive person. Like most people, I look forward to a better future. I like change. In fact, I love change. It's part of the reason I favor a free market economy.

Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter described capitalism as ''creative destruction.'' Schumpeter wrote that free markets were the "process of industrial mutation ... that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one." He considered creative destruction ''the essential fact about capitalism.''

This is exactly what we're all trying to do in a free society. You want this sort of positive ''destruction.'' We should want to be ripping and tearing up our ideas all the time and creating better products. We should all want to be progressive, in this sense.

Refrigerators that were built today are better than ones that were built a few years ago. They are always getting better. This is why I resent the term ''progressive'' as a term for a political ideology.

Capitalism has given the world the most progress in history, and yet the politicians and left-wing activists who identify as progressives want to smash the free market. The reality of free-market capitalism, though, is that it has lifted billions of people out of extreme poverty across the globe.

That is why I believe in the power of free markets. I know right now that there are countless Americans working hard to solve my problems — the free market incentivizes them to do so. Most problems that we have at this moment will be solved so long as government stays out of the way.

Harping on income inequality and trying to make government the extinguisher of poverty and allocator of resources is a dead end. We need wealthy people who will invest in new ideas.

Right now, with Joe Biden wanting to punish and choke-off wealth with multi-trillion dollar spending initiatives funded by tax hikes and borrowing, there isn't going to be any capital for innovation — innovation that, if successful, has potential to help thousands, if not millions of Americans.

In a truly free society, to be progressive means to choose liberty over security and dive headfirst into that creative destruction through which innovation is born and people are made more free.

Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks and the author of "A Republic, Not a Democracy: How to Restory Sanity in America."