President Barack Hussein Obama’s term in office has been one of the greatest eras of progressive values in American History. But progressivism is once again on the ballot this year, and even with Obama’s term ending the American people have an opportunity to continue the legacy of progressive values.
No movement should fail to pay tribute to its trailblazers.
In the interest of fairness and as a debt to history, I think it’s important that we take a minute to give due credit to one of the greatest progressives in history, someone who undoubtedly should be an inspiration and influence to all progressives today – former German leader Adolf Hitler, who against strong odds rose to power and fundamentally changed Germany and for a while, the world.
Like our president, Adolf Hitler came from middle class beginnings, the son of an Austrian civil servant in Linz whom died when he was fourteen. Some biographers have said that Alois Heidler provided the young Adolf with his first example of government in action and how it could affect people’s lives. Young Hitler’s early years also undoubtedly gave him a sense of the importance of education and how government could strengthen it. As a young student, Adolf Hitler was frequently at odds with his non-unionized teachers, who seemed content to teach by rote and lacked strong support from government.
When Adolf Hitler gravitated to Vienna as a young man to pursue a career as a painter, not only was he influenced by other progressive thinkers like Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Heinrich Gotthard von Treitschke, but also by an extraordinary activist progressive politician, Karl Lueger, the Burgomaster (Mayor)of Vienna, whom Hitler later called ‘a genius’ and claimed as a model. Lueger, whose Christian Socialist Party was organized along many of the same lines that Hitler would later adopt for his National Socialist Party could best be described as a early practitioner of Saul Alinky’s political ethics, balancing one special interest group against another for his own political advancement. At one point, when some of his anti-Semitic supporters questioned his taking campaign contributions from wealthy Jewish donors, Luegar famously shut them down by telling them that he was the one whom would decide who was a Jew! Lueger is also credited with municipalizing utilities and instituting public transportation in Vienna,along with a number of other shovel ready public works projects.