Abraham Lincoln sounds like an early version of the modern day progressive in his speech for support of Zachary Taylor for president:
If to say “the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President” be opposing the war, then the Whigs have very generally opposed it. … The marching an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops and other property to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us. . .. But if, when the war had begun, and had become the cause of the country, the giving-of our money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the war. With few individual exceptions, you have constantly had our votes here for all the necessary supplies. …
If it is unconstitutional, shouldn’t his job, the Whigs’ job, have been to impeach Polk? Instead of that, he & the Whigs throw their support behind the war effort.
Below is a superb critique of the political class by former slave, Frederick Douglass.
The determination of our slaveholding President to prosecute the war, and the probability of his success in wringing from the people men and money to carry it on, is made evident, rather than doubtful, by the puny opposition arrayed against him. No politician of any considerable distinction or eminence, seems willing to hazard his popularity with his party, or stem the fierce current of executive influence, by an open and unqualified disapprobation of the war. None seem willing to take their stand for peace at all risks; and all seem willing that the war should be carried on, in some form or other. If any oppose the President’s demands, it is not because they hate the war, but for want of information as to the aims and objects of the war. The boldest declaration on this point is that of Hon. John P. Hale, which is to the effect that he will not vote a single dollar to the President for carrying on the war, until he shall be fully informed of the purposes and objects of the war. Mr. Hale knows, as well as the President can inform him, for what the war is waged; and yet he accompanies his declaration with that prudent proviso. This shows how deep seated and strongly bulwarked is the evil against which we contend. The boldest dare not fully grapple with it.
I loved Douglass’s critique. He writes about how no politician will risk his political neck to condemn the war and since this is the case, the war will be carried on. Are things not much the same today? Most politicians won’t condemn US aggression overseas because they don’t want to appear soft, they don’t want to appear like they don’t care about safety. The citizens were sold this war on terror as necessary to their safety, and now that narrative is difficult to counteract. The part where he said “it is not because they hate the war, but for want of information as to the aims and objects of the war” is also typical of the modern day progressives. They have no principled argument against using the US military to attack troubled areas across the oceans, they just bicker over whether or not such attacks meet the ever-shifting objectives they outline. Lincoln plays the progressive role with his “spot resolutions”. These resolutions were a request for information, not of any principled stand against the war. Per his own words, he got behind the war once it was commenced.
I was fairly new to politics when “Shock and Awe” was applied to free the Iraqis. I didn’t understand that the left’s resistance to that war wasn’t because they hated war. I was blindsided when I pointed out how Obama continued the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war, and they did not care. Now I realize that there was never any real principled objection to war by most on the left. It was smoke and mirrors to cast their opponents in the worst possible light. As soon as one of theirs had the chance to take up the role of Commander in Chief, preemptive war was then the prescription to use. The drone war was expanded. Libya was attacked. Syrian rebels were armed. When Bush was in office, I used to see talk of how it wasn’t the role of the US to be the world police. Once Obama took the reins, it is. We will see how they react to Trump’s foreign policy. My money is on the objections being on how and where the wars are waged. The days of rejecting war are over, if there ever were any days like that.