Progressive Logic, Demonstrated
The United States Supreme Court has struck down the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on private businesses as unconstitutional. The three dissenting “liberals” on the court, however, objected that the majority’s decision constitutes judicial “overreach” because the anti-mandate justices were choosing to overlook the opinions of “experts.” This dissenting opinion represents a classic, almost perfect example of progressive thinking.
Striking down or objecting to a government’s assertion of specific powers has nothing whatsoever to do with the opinions of “experts.” The majority did not rule that vaccination is bad, nor that workers in private companies should not be vaccinated. They made no judgment about the pros and cons of vaccines at all, since that was not their task in this case, nor will it ever be their task in any case they ever hear. They merely judged, as they were asked to do, on the question of whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to impose vaccination requirements on private companies; and their answer, by a 6-to-3 margin, was that the federal government has no such authority. Hence, from the point of view of an innocent assessment of the matter at issue and the opinions rendered, one might easily conclude that the minority’s dissent, which emphasizes the opinion of “experts” on the benefits of universal vaccination, is utterly illogical, and indeed that it makes no sense at all in that it totally misses the point of this case.
But the seemingly irrelevant emphasis, in the progressive justices’ dissent, on the majority’s disregard for “experts,” which has nothing to do with the matter at issue, gives away the game on the nature of progressive thought. Specifically, it reveals the implicit major premise in this and all progressive arguments, namely that centralized government authority is the default and proper source of all important choices and actions within any society. In this case, for example, that implicit premise makes the dissenters’ illogical insertion of “experts” into the discussion suddenly seem perfectly logical, in the demented progressive sense of logic.
P1: Centralized government is the default and proper source of all important choices and actions within any society;
P2: Health experts believe that vaccines and masks are the best way to end the pandemic;
C: Therefore, the central government must force everyone to get the vaccine and wear a mask.
You see? To the progressive mind, the very fact that something may, on some reasonable (or reasonable-sounding) grounds, be judged socially beneficial in some way, necessarily entails that the central government has the legitimate authority to use any means at its disposal to impose that beneficial thing on every member of society. Conversely, to reject the government’s authority to employ that coercive power, as the supreme court majority has done in this case, is by definition to deny or ignore the beneficial nature of the behavior at issue, in this case getting vaccinated — as long as you have accepted the hidden but ubiquitous progressive premise (P1).
Reject that premise, however, and you are back to the naïve position of the regressive rube, namely that “The minority’s argument makes no sense and totally misses the point of the case.” Accept that premise, on the other hand, and you have nullified the entire purpose of the United States Supreme Court, or indeed of any institution or fundamental law that exists as a check on absolute power. For if, in effect, the only salient question in any issue is whether the action to be taken might be judged by some “experts” to be socially beneficial — if, in other words, the issue of structural, moral limits on central government power as such is off the table from the get-go (P1) — then as long as you can find such “experts,” there is no objection to be made; government must act in whatever way it deems fit, and of course has the legitimate authority to do so.
The apparently illogical becomes perfectly logical, if government is the ultimate and overriding moral agent, as the progressive’s ubiquitous hidden premise assumes it to be.