The impending demise of the new Progressives

February 28, 2018
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


The stunning rise of the local new Progressive movement looks like it may be matched only by its pending rapid decline. Its cause? An emerging public perception of the movement’s hypocrisy, it’s single-minded ideology, and its self-destructive overconfidence.

The previous chapters of the national Progressive movement led to some great things in American history. The original Progressive era championed by President Teddy Roosevelt from 1901-1908 was highly effective and left lasting improvements in American lives.

The second era of progressivism that came with the civil rights, anti-war, and environmental movements of the 1960s-70s also made lasting inroads to change. When I served on the San Luis Obispo City Council while in my 20s, I was a proud member of that movement.

Now comes this latest era of progressivism. Spurred by Bernie Sanders’ race for President, it originally showed signs of real promise to its followers. Uber-liberals fully embraced their own brand of radical Progressivism, and when Trump edged out Clinton, it went into hyper-drive.

Locally, it hit its high-water mark with the ascendancy of Heidi Harmon as mayor of San Luis Obispo, the 2017 “Women’s March”, and the 2017 “Putsch” by neo-Progressives who seized control of our county’s Democratic Central Committee. The self-appointed leaders of the “Progressives” like Harmon and liberal flamethrowers Tom Fulks, Aaron Ochs, and Nick Andre quickly puffed themselves up with their own self-importance.

Movement leaders have since “girded their loins” to take on anyone not in lockstep with their point of view, only to plant the seeds of their own demise. The recent self-immoliation of self-styled Progressive Supervisor Adam Hill, the self-serving din of Fulks’ rants in the Tribune, and Heidi Harmon’s determination to impose her ideology over San Luis Obispo’s historic neighborhoods has given would-be supporters serious pause. As a result, those over-the-top “leaders” have plotted their own downward spiral towards irrelevance.

When the leaders of the 2018 “Women’s March” repurposed their so-called march into an ideological political rally, the movement really showed its cards. Because of the emergence of that event’s single-minded partisan nature, some nonprofits pulled out of it.

Supposedly organized to encourage women running for office, march organizers endorsed 3 male candidates while opposing the only woman running for office, Supervisor Lynn Compton. What hypocrisy!

This new brand of Progressives is not about representative democracy. Just look at what our “Progressive” City Council did in imposing its will on the Anholm neighborhood with its Bike Boulevard proposal, despite the fact that 3 out of 4 residents of that neighborhood opposed what the city was trying to do.

Instead, what this movement is about is an ideological dictatorship determined to force its will upon the rest of us. They profess to know what’s best for us. They’re determined to change our lives over our objections while stifling any alternative points of view. They don’t listen, they just act regardless of the consequences.

As a result, the public has been able to witness the hijacking of what was a once-promising movement by a pack of blatantly partisan political hacks. The politically correct have over-corrected, and in the process, they’re threatening the future of the Democratic Party.

Liberal friends of mine who originally embraced the movement are now distancing themselves from it. Their primary reasons? The movement’s unprincipled, distorted, and arrogant tactics in trying to impose an ideological dictatorship upon us all.
Sound familiar? Ring a bell? Will we allow history to repeat itself once again?
God forbid


What a crock of useless mumbo jumbo meant to create division in a powerful American movement. Using words like dictatorship and hijacking to describe a small town’s politics is rubbish. Fretting over a bike path? C’mon peewee Keith herman….meanwhile in Syria


The truth hurts, despite your determination to run away from it…


If I did’t know anything I would say “Bull” to Keith. But I do (know), and I don’t (say ‘Bull’), especially as it concerns the local gang, our arrogant and self important bums on the slo city council, of which the Mayor is a particular disappointment. I was in full support of this person but quickly found out what a dictator and irresponsible mayor she became right off the bat. She promised to bring the people back to city hall-she has done all she can to stick it to us. And the others? Christ. One of them recently told me he has no interest in representing the best interests of the city but rather is just supporting the desires of his supporters (economically that means blood sucking developers and others who only want to make profit from our city).

The mayor and all the others on the SLO CC routinely dismiss the concerns of the citizens in favor of the fat cats. We do not have representative government here, what we have is a grand sell out to the rich, this will lead to the destruction of the area as we know it.

I’ll bet there are a lot of good folks in the so called progressives but as long as Harmon is anywhere near them they are tainted.


Pete, you’re spot on. I, like you, made the same mistake. How is it that we empowered the worst City Council in our local history?


I think we’re getting a taste of the “real” New Progressives taking charge after Parkland. These kids are doing more than all us grown ups have been able to do in decades; empowering people and corporations to “Just Say No” to the NRA and it’s minions.

Articulate, bright and driven, and tired of all the BS “thoughts and prayers” that don’t ever seem to be listened to let alone acted on, I believe this is a movement that will get things done and lead to more and more kids, teens and young adults getting involved in our political process.

“This movement, created by students, led by students, is based on emotion. It is based on passion and it is based on pain. Our biggest flaws—our tendency to be a bit too aggressive, our tendency to lash out, things that you expect from a normal teenager—these are our strengths. The only reason that we’ve gotten so far is that we are not afraid of losing money, we’re not afraid of getting reelected or not getting reelected, we have nothing to lose. The only thing we have to gain at this point is our safety.” – Delaney Tarr, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

I believe Parkland is a turning point in our progress to a better country, eliminating guns being the defining factor of our culture, one safer and more secure for our population.

“To think, last week at this exact time, I was complaining about not wanting to go to rehearsal after school and trying to think of an excuse to get out of it…To [NRA Florida lobbyist] Marion Hammer and to everyone at the NRA and everyone affiliated at the NRA: We are not afraid of you, we will not be silenced by anything you have to say. We are here, our voices are loud, and we’re not stopping until change happens.” – Tanzil Philip, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

I believe these “Millennials” will be a force is to be reckoned with, to be listened to and to be taken very, very seriously in the future.

“Instead of worrying about our AP Gov chapter 16 test, we have to be studying our notes to make sure that our arguments based on politics and political history are watertight. The students at this school have been having debates on guns for what feels like our entire lives. AP Gov had about three debates this year. Some discussions on the subject even occurred during the shooting while students were hiding in the closets.” – Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

“Everybody needs to remember, we are just children. A lot of people think that disqualifies us from even having an opinion on this sort of matter…This matters to me more than anything else in my entire life. And I want everybody to know, personally, I’m prepared to drop out of school. I’m prepared to not worry about anything besides this…I know everyone else here will fight for the rest of their lives to see sensible gun laws in this country, so that kids don’t have to fear going back to school.” – Alfonso Calderon, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School


CURSES! If it wasn’t for those meddling kids!

Seriously though,

“…Some discussions on the subject even occurred during the shooting while students were hiding in the closets.” – Emma Gonzalez

ATF, that doesn’t even pass the smell test. Who discusses gun control legislation while an active shooter is nearby? “Darn it, if there was sensible gun control laws we wouldn’t be cowering down for our lives! Stay low people!”

You do know that major P.R. firms are arranging all the public appearances of these kids. Also, fellow students that had a different opinion than these kids were ignored by CNN’s staff for CNN’s reporting segments.

If you really believe these student statements, I’ve got a full assortment of bridges to sell you. (I write this in jest since you do appear to be intelligent.)


What “major P.R. firms” are you speaking of? Haven’t heard that one so I’d like a link or source. I’d also like a link or source about CNN ignoring any student, as I can’t find anything relating to that anywhere either.

I not only think we had better believe these students but we damn sure better listen to them. It’s time we listen to the living victims of this type of senseless BS, because the ones who didn’t survive don’t have a voice anymore.

What I think most of us “old folks” are discounting, or are just outright ignoring, is these kids have been tired for a long time with folks like us dictating to them just how they’ll live and now we’re doubling down on that with dictating on how they may die. I think after Parkland they’re getting the idea into their collective heads that this is, after all, gonna be their world in a relatively short period of time and the our ideas of making it a better place are failing and they want to make a change.

Don’t dissuade or discount these kids, don’t marginalize them by implying their lying or have ulterior motives, listen to them!

I have a son in H.S., he lives with his mother in one of the most dangerous places in the country, the Chicago area, and I can tell you he is of the same opinion as these kids. He called me after Parkland happened and he was rattled. He was rattled because he was born in Coral Springs, the community right next door to Parkland, and we lived there for a short time after his birth, we also considered making it our permanent home. He had asked his Mom just how far we had lived from Parkland and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, she wouldn’t answer him. I told him we probably could have heard the gun fire from our home (we lived just a little over a mile from the school). His reply? “Great! And now I live in Chicago!” At 16 he feels like he’s the victim of his parents choices and he isn’t too pleased about it.

I’m proud of my son, he’s smart, informed and opinionated and I can tell you sir, you’d sell no bridges to him either…


‘Neo-progressives seizing control”…..was that with guns? Or a sane interpretation would be; (along with more accurate and less hyperbolic) by a majority vote in leadership elections.

The hypocrisy you see is that women chose not to support another woman for elected office. The logic being they can’t think for themselves and make a choice about who represents their interests best. They need to vote for the woman solely because of their gender. Great point there Archie Bunker. The 1970s are calling.

Paranoid ramblings steeped in misogyny. What a tasty brew you have concocted.


Don’t know about this… I think most people are so over the current admin. That anything not ‘R’ will do.

And it was pretty clear the ‘women’s march’ was an anti-trump march that was conveniently re-named.

With the latest ‘re-development’ planned for Nipomo&Monterey, I’ve seen enough. SLO has lost it.

Ben Daho

Lol so, Progressives flipped 39 that’s THIRTY NINE elections.

We’re not going away. I know Heidi and she’s bright and compassionate and she’s not going anywhere.

Adam Hill isn’t a fair representation of ANYONE, let alone any political party. he just happens to be who’s in office at the time.

Hide and watch, we’re bringing it and it’s going to be a blue wave. don’t try to plant seeds of doubt. We’re not falling for it.


Spoken like a true Progressive, out to impose your will upon us all…


Be specific TKG, please. Open ended comments like yours don’t address a problem, if there actually is one, while causing confusion. Exactly what has been imposed on you?


Guess you haven’t been reading about the Anholm Bikeway. They are out to destroy the neighborhood I’ve lived in since 1972 while increasing the dangers for cyclists, despite the fact that the City’s own poll revealed that 74% of the neighborhood opposes what they’re proposing to do. So much for representative democracy…


Point taken…


The problem is political extremes. “New Progressives” are leftist extreme idiots, where your “Alt Right” are rightist politician extremists. Both extremes are going to fizzle out, because very few people see life as extremely as they do.

As a woman, I’m not just going to support someone because they have a vagina or simply “identify” as a woman. I support people who have the same philosophies as I do, ideals that best serve the community. Supporting strictly along party lines is stupid.


The problem with both extremes is they get all of the media attention. However they will never fizzle out because they are not in touch with reality. If somehow the press would ignore this extremists and start reporting what the normal American thinks the country would start to solve some of our problems.


Good luck with that! None of us make the money or generate the type of support the “extremists” get, either from the media or the politicians.


I do not understand your comment, could you please restate. What does money have to do with extreme political views. What support does the extreme left and right have other than a media help bent on selling advertisers air time.


Political “Commercials” are paid for “Commercials”, right? All political views, extreme and otherwise, pay to have air time for their view to be aired, just like a “product commercial” would have to. Clinton spent around $141 million on adds, Trump about half that. That’s real money, by-the-way!

Politics is a product; not an ideal, not a set of values, not public service, not one party or the other, it’s nothing but a product! It’s to be sold to the highest bidder/corporation/special interest group/lobbyist/1%er at an exorbitant price that the common working stiff seems to pay for exorbitantly, again and again.

Money is politics, and, vice-versa. I think they should be oxymoron’s, not compatible with each other and never to be combined…


True, except the extremists get free air time, which is one of the reasons they act like idiots, it brings in the media. The money in politics knows this and supports the extremists in order to get the free air time.

fat chance

You nailed it…..


…..and it can’t be said too often


You nailed it, Keith.