In the illegal road race classic The Gumball Rally, Franco, the race car driver portrayed by Raul Julia, told his boss and co-driver “And now, my friend, the first rule of Italian driving, (pauses to rip the rear view mirror off the windshield and throw it behind him), what is behind me, is not important.”

It’s a brilliant moment, and this morning it occurred to me that it is a succinct summation of modern progressivism.

The word “progressive” itself tells us the story, but it’s not something that rational individuals would believe is a cornerstone of an entire branch of political thought. How else, though, can we describe the willing blindness to the lessons of history?


  • The nation is stumbling through a tepid-to-lousy economic recovery following a recession that was addressed with an unprecendently massive government stimulus spending effort. The stimulus didn’t work, and should have put the final nail in the coffin of Keynesian economic theory. The Great Depression was also a massive failure of big government, while the Depression of 1920, which was met with enormous tax and spending cuts, was a clear example of how to recover quickly and strongly from a recession. Yet all we hear about is more government spending and more government regulation.

  • Health insurance has been increasingly expensive, messy, convoluted and distorted by government’s involvement and regulation, yet all we hear about is how we need MORE government involvement in health insurance.

  • Public education spending per student has been steadily climbing over the last few decades, with no improvement in outcome. The proposed solutions for our terrible public education system are limited to MORE spending without any structural changes.

  • Government programs such as Head Start have been shown to produce no positive results, yet the demand from the Left is that the programs receive MORE funding rather than being terminated for their uselessness.

  • The financial meltdown was a textbook demonstration of moral hazard, but the government chose to embrace “too big to fail” and do little to curtail moral hazard.

  • The 2008 housing bubble collapse was rooted in government’s efforts to force banks to make loans to higher risk borrowers for the sake of diversity, but today we are hearing rumblings of repeat efforts in that regard.

  • The right-to-carry movement of the past quarter century has coincided with a dramatic decrease in gun crime, but we continue to hear demands for increased restriction on law-abiding gun owners.

  • The mandate that gasoline contain a percentage of ethanol for environmental reasons has been shown to be harmful to the environment. Still the enviros won’t let it go. If ever a program warranted termination, this one is it.

  • Dozens of government-subsidized solar energy companies have failed since the “green energy” movement began, yet all we hear is how the government needs to do more to underwrite green energy.

  • Government’s nutrition guidelines of the past correlate with the rise in the nation’s obesity levels, and many of its past recommendations have now been reversed. Still, progressives continue to insist that government should not only recommend, but actually incentivize or disincentivize eating habits and choices.

  • The big entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, have turned out to be grotesquely underfunded Ponzi schemes that will eventually collapse (as all Ponzi schemes do), yet progressives insist they not only continue but be expanded. Social Security taxes started at 1% of income, now they’re over 6%, and the program’s future viability will require this number increase.

  • Government’s meddling in agriculture dates back to the New Deal, with countless examples of failed and counterproductive policies, yet progressives continue to insist that government continue its involvement.

  • Environmentally-minded progressives achieved the banning of DDT nearly half a century ago. Despite evidence that the ban was based on disproven theories and junk science, it continues today, and has racked up a death toll in the tens of millions.

  • In 1994, the government enacted an assault weapons ban. It subsetted after 10 years, and the evidence is clear that the ban accomplished nothing. Progressives nevertheless want it reinstated.

The list is endless. It’s also meaningless to anyone who refuses to look in the rear view mirror. Philosopher George Santayana wrote:

those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

This is even more true when people choose not to remember the past. That deliberate choice speaks of a deliberate desire to perpetuate and repeat actions and policies that have demonstrably failed.

What’s worse than ignorance? Willful blindness. The willfully blind are, sadly, the ones who are demanding they lead the rest of us into the future.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

If you'd like to help keep the site ad-free, please support us on Patreon.


Like this post?