The Progressive Left: Making of a Mythology, Three American Myths, pt. 3

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what is going on today. I am trying to make sense of the turmoil, uncertainty, and rage. I find it is hard to get clear answers. Closely following and reflecting upon this time of unrest, I have found that the rhetoric 02.5emerging from the progressive left reminds me of the making of a mythology. In response, I am drawn to exploring how progressives are actually formulating a mythology, rather than devising a new form of reality-based governance. This series of blogs will explore the making of a progressive myth. Here is part 3 …

Instead of the American Dream mythology, a different mythology has been emerging since around 2000 that I call the progressive left. This mythology has its roots in the progressive era reforms in the early 20th century. This mythology framed the direction of reforms, such as women’s suffrage, expansion of 03.1national parks, breaking-up giant corporations, and passing an income tax.

The progressive mythology took a pause during the Roaring 20s, but reasserted itself during the Great Depression, when programs were passed to stem the tide of human suffering and economic hardship. It paused again during World War II years and the feel-good era of the 1950s. But gained steam during the 1960s and early


LBJ signing Voting Rights Act of 1965

1970s, reaching a crescendo with the passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. The 1980s and 1990s took another pause from progressivism but a movement was forming.

In the 2000s, the progressive mythology began to reassert itself again. It grew in response to the backlash against the George W. Bush administration and the disastrous war and invasion of Iraq. With the presidential election of Barack Obama in 2008, the mythology was boosted by his call for hope and change. The 2008 financial 03.3crisis exposed real problems in the financial sector of the economy and the general trajectory of economic globalization and the neoliberal philosophy. Protests, such as Occupy Wall Street in 2011, galvanized the progressive left and gave them a worthy cause to protest. Even though the Occupy Wall Street fizzled, the emotions behind it certainly didn’t disappear. A mythology was beginning to form.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders pumped up the progressive left in his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee in his impressive primary battle against the “establishment” candidate, Hillary Clinton. With her stunning defeat in the 3.2 Trump with Kelly Ann Conway, election nightgeneral election, losing to Donald Trump in the electoral college, the progressive movement took another turn after 2016.

Progressives took this moment as a time to mount a wholesale retaliation against not only Donald Trump and his supporters, but also against organized religion, whiteness, scientific investigation, and anything that smacks of Western traditions, customs, and governance. American history, to the progressive left, had been a trail of oppression, exploitation, cruelty, with not a shred of good will or compassion found in their bleak telling.

So, what is this new progressive left mythology? I have found that it incorporates several dimensions that clearly distinguish it from the long-serving myths outlined above. Next in the series, August 28, Friday.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

07.3 and 08.2Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.


Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books  


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