The battle between conservatism and progressivism/liberalism has been an never ending struggle throughout American history, going back to the time of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, and the creation of the first political party system in the Federalist Era of the 1790s.
After a half century of conservatism in charge in the Gilded Age and early Progressive Era, in 1912, we finally had the triumph of progressivism with the election of Woodrow Wilson, and the stellar second place finish of Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive Party line. Wilson proceeded to promote economic and social reforms, partly based on Roosevelt’s ideas, and partly his own, and much of what was accomplished in the second decade of the 20th century remains with us today.
Reversion to Gilded Age mentality occurred under GOP Presidents in the 1920s and early 1930s, and the Great Depression led to a smashing landslide for Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and 1940s, with the New Deal expanding much of what TR and Wilson had advocated, and additional ideas growing out of the economic crisis.
Harry Truman attempted more reforms in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but most were stymied by a conservative resurgence, and a similar situation existed in the Eisenhower years, and the Kennedy Presidency.
But when Lyndon B. Johnson came in after the assassination of President Kennedy, he dedicated himself to accomplishment of what FDR, Truman, and Kennedy could not achieve, and to expand beyond the New Deal of FDR with the Great Society.
The Republican Party and conservatives saw an opportunity to negate all of the economic and social changes of TR, Wilson and FDR, and Barry Goldwater, the 1964 right wing opponent of Johnson, declared war on the New Deal, and the result was a landslide defeat, and the greatest expansion of progressivism yet in our history.
By the time that Ronald Reagan won a victory for conservatives in 1980, and continuing through George W. Bush leaving in 2009, Republicans and the right wing set out to reverse the Great Society and New Deal, one program at a time, with Democrats being able to stop complete destruction, but Republicans and conservatives nipping away at one area of policy after another, and in the process increasing our national debt from $1 trillion when Reagan became President to $10.5 trillion when George W. Bush left office.
Barack Obama came in with the intention of solidifying the New Deal and Great Society, and also bringing a new Progressive Era. And now Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are declaring war on everything that has been done by the federal government in the past century—from TR, to Wilson, to FDR, to Truman, even to Ike, to JFK, LBJ, even Nixon, Carter, even George H. W. Bush, to Clinton, to Obama–in their desire to make America ever more an oligarchy, a corporate dominated nation, and to destroy the middle class and the poor, and return us to the Gilded Age that began in the 1870s!
So 2012 is the most ideological election since 1964, as that election was the most ideological election since 1912!
The future of every social and economic reform of the past century is at stake in this election, and progressives and liberals cannot afford to sit on the sidelines, as this is as Theodore Roosevelt dramatically called it a century ago, an ultimate battle of Armageddon for the future of America!