The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Progressives have a significant history of intolerance

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/12/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,030 times Debate No: 25113
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)




I would like to dedicate the opening argument as an acceptance round

Progressive- A person who is further to the left than a democrat in U.S. politics.

History- The time period from the progressive movement to modern day politics.

P.S. if you have a better definition put it in your opening argument


I accept this debate.

I would like to add a definition:

Intolerant- lacking respect for practices and beliefs other than one's own [1].

Also, it should be noted that a while a progressive is further left than a Democrat in U.S. politics, but not as far to the left as a radical. I believe the definition of progressive can be better stated as a person who has the political belief of progresssivism which can be defined as follows:

Progressivism is a general political philosophy advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes usually in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies [2].

The BoP is on Pro to demonstrate that the majority of progressives have a significant history of intolerence.

I look forward to a good debate.


Debate Round No. 1


Let me start with thank you to magicr for accepting this debate

C1: The Progressive Founding Fathers

As we all know the progressive founding fathers are Teddy Roosevelt and later Woodrow Wilson. These people practically shaped and created the progressive movement and these people were some of the most intolerant

Teddy Roosevelt endorsed a book by Madison Grant (The Passing of The Great Race) which talked about eugenics this is some of the context."The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit, and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race" (1) That sounds like something that Hitler would have said and he did in fact Hitler said "this is my bible"(2) this shows you how Teddy Roosevelt thought process was and it certainly isn't tolerant.

Next person I would like to capitalize on is Woodrow Wilson, some call him the most intolerant president in American history and they are right, he practically created a fascist state in America. First and foremost he supported segregation of African Americans (3) which certainly isn't tolerant. Second he was intolerant of anybody who disagrees with the government. You can see this by his signing of The Sedition Act of 1918 which made it illegal for anybody to criticize the government and if you did you would be given a prison sentence(3).

C2: Second Generation Progressives

The second generation progressives were of course Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. These people followed in the example of there fellow progressives. They were also intolerant.

Herbert Hoover was a white supremacist and was basically a American version of Hitler. He believed that African Americans were inferior and wanted to strip them from political positions of power. He also was intolerant to Mexicans, in facts he deported 2 million people many were American citizens who had a Mexican sounding name. Hoover also defended the Nazis and wanted America to have a long lasting relationship with them (4).

FDR was also a intolerant man just like Hoover. He was intolerant of the Japanese in fact he created Executive Order 9006 and 9102 which created Japanese Interment Camps. Which imprisoned 120,000 Japanese People just because they were Japanese. He also wanted the same fate for Italian and German Americans in fact he publicly said it. He also appointed two segregationist to the Supreme Court.(5)

C3: Modern Day Progressives.

Modern day progressives our Bush 43 and Obama. Bush wasn't intolerant but Obama followed in the foot steps of there progressives and is intolerant.

Obama has lead a attack on religion. He is intolerant of people of faith. You can see this by his contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act which forces religious institutions to include contraception in there health care plans (6). Also he is intolerant of anybody who disagree with his beliefs much like Wilson. You can see this because of an executive order that would freeze anybody assets that oppose the government in Yemen(7) and the Anti-Protest bill which would make it illegal to protest by government officials, building and presidential candidates (8). That is true intolerance.


There is a significant history because of all the progressives who have held high office have been intolerant. If you calculated it 5/6 of the progressive president were intolerant which is 83% of the leaders. That shows that there is a significant history of intolerance.


(1)- The Passing of the Great Race, book


I thank my opponent for this debate and wish him good luck.

To begin, we must determine what makes someone a progressive. It should be noted that just because someone was a politician during the progressive era (1990s-1920s [1]) does not make them a progressive. A progressive can be determined by looking at a person's beliefs and actions. Progressivism itself is a philosophy that is rooted in opposition to injustice and inequality [2]. Because of this, the ideas of progressivism are at odds with intolerant behavior. That is not to say that progressives cannot be intolerant, but it does mean that it is not likely that a person with an opposition to inequality will have a significant amount of intolerant actions.

Several of the presidents mentioned in my opponent's argument are certainly not progressives. Additionally, just looking at the presidents who were progressive cannot give us a complete view of progressives as a whole.


C1: The Progressive Founding Fathers

My opponent writes: "As we all know the progressive founding fathers are Teddy Roosevelt and later Woodrow Wilson." While these two men were leaders of the progressive movement, my opponent presents no evidence to suggest that these men were the "founding fathers" of the progressive movement.

Teddy Roosevelt (T. R.)

Pro continues by saying that T. R. endorsed a book. Again, no evidence is presented that T. R. ever made such an endorsement. While it is true that Hitler said "This is my Bible," it should also be pointed out that my opponent's source says that Hitler was also very fond of such things as Don Quixote, and William Shakespeare's plays [3].

Beyond the fact that this claims is unevidenced, endorsing one controversial book is not a sign of significant intolerance. In order to prove that T. R. was significantly intolerant, he must present more evidence. We can conclude from the first arguments presented by my opponent that T. R. did not have a significant history of intolerance, if that is the only intolerant action taken.

Woodrow Wilson

My opponent makes yet another unevidenced claim: "some call him the most intolerant president in American history and they are right, he practically created a fascist state in America."

I do concede that Wilson did have some racist tendencies, but that does not mean that he created a "fascist state in America."

The next point brought up by my opponent is the Sedition Act of 1918. First, it should be noted that although Wilson did sign the act, it was first a product of Congress. Also, the act should be viewed in proper light: This was during WWI and it was feared that the American war effort could be undermined.

I am not condoning the Act, but I am trying to put in a little bit of context. I would also like to say that not all progressives agree with the act, in fact T. R. voiced opposition to it [4], so to say that most progressives approved of the measure would be a claim without a foundation. I understand that is not my opponent's argument, I am merely pointing out that the actions of one president are not representative of a whole group of people.

Additionally, if we are to look at the intolerance of a person, we must also take into account their tolerant actions. Although writing negatively about immigrants, later, Wilson tried to get immigrants to integrate into the American way of life. Wilson also appointed the first Jewish justice to the Supreme Court [5].

We can conclude based on review of my opponent's first arguments that although Wilson had some intolerant tendencies, he alone cannot represent the entire Progressive movement. We can also conclude that my opponent's claim that Wilson created an American fascist state is entirely unfounded.

William H. Taft

It should be noted that William Taft is also considered one the progressive presidents [6]. My opponent has completely skipped Taft, so unless evidence is presented to the contrary, we can conclude that Taft was a tolerant man.

C2: Second Generation Progressives

Yet more unfounded claims. My opponent claims that both Hoover and FDR were progressives, but he provides no reason to believe either of these men were progressives.

Herbert Hoover

Claiming that Hoover was a progressive is absolutely ridiculous and false. My opponent's own source source describes Hoover as a conservative [7]. The definition of progressivism I presented in R1 stated that progressivism is in opposition to conservatism. Hoover was certainly not a progressive, so I do not need to talk about Hoover's actions because they are irrelevant.


Once again, no evidence is presented to warrant the claim that FDR was a progressive, so I do not need to address his actions.

C3: Modern Day Progressives

Once more we find that my opponent has claimed two more presidents have been progressives without any evidence to back this up.

George H. W. Bush

This president was certainly a right-wing centrist, if not a true conservative. Remember, my opponent described a progressive as someone to the left of democrats in the United States. H. W. is not a progressive, therefore, he is irrelevant.

Barack Obama

No evidence is presented to suggest that Obama is a progressive. Nevertheless, I will comment on my opponent's claim that "Obama has lead an attack on religion. He is intolerant of people of faith." This claim is false, because Obama himself a person of faith.

Beyond this, the provision in the A. C. A. to which my opponent is referring, does not require religious institutions to give women birth control. What it does is described in my opponent's source: "As of Aug. 1, new or renewing health insurance plans are required to provide birth control to women at no out-of-pocket cost. Houses of worship are exempt and religious nonprofits get a one-year reprieve, as well as the option to pass the cost to the insurance company" [8].

All health insurance plans are required to make sure women get the proper contraceptive measures. That is all it does. This is not intolerance.


As I have mentioned several times, one presidents opinions do not represent an entire group of people. Additionally, the ideas of progressivism are at odds with intolerance, so it is unlikely for a progressive to be significantly intolerant. My opponent claims that 83% of progressive presidents are intolerant, but taking into consideration the fact that most of the presidents he referenced as progressives were not shown by any evidence to be as such, he cannot really make this claim. As thing stand now:

T. R.- a progressive without a significant history of intolerance.

Wilson- a progressive with some history of intolerance.

Taft- a progressive that was not described as intolerant.

Hoover- definitely not a progressive.

FDR- no evidence to suggest that he was a progressive was presented.

H. W. Bush- not a progressive.

Obama- no evidence that he is a progressive, but even if he is, I have refuted the ACA point.

Most progressives- no evidence to suggest that they are intolerant.

As can probably be seen, unless it can be shown that there is something in the progressive ideology that makes progressives intolerant, there is not a way for my opponent to prove that most progressives are significantly intolerant. The resolution is negated.










Debate Round No. 2


R1: The Progressive Founding Fathers

I use the term founding fathers in a way to signify they were the most prominent leaders of the Progressives.

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt indeed did endorse the book (1). My opponent ask me to give more examples of the intolerance of Teddy Roosevelt, I will honor your request and give you some more examples.

Teddy Roosevelt supported the mass slaughter and removal of Native Americans (2) which shows he was intolerant of Native Americans. He also was extremely racist against blacks in fact he even refused to reward the black troops who fought in the Battle of San Juan Hill (3). He also belied that blacks were inferior to whites (3). That is intolerance.

Woodrow Wilson

My opponent states that we cant conclude that progressives support the bill, but we also can prove they didn't support the act so we must use a different measure. That closet measure was a presidential ranking poll that was conducted in 1982 by Murray-Blessing Survey which divided up historians by political ideology and the liberals ranked Woodrow Wilson as the top 6th president (4). With this information we can assume that the left approves of Woodrow Wilson's performance as president. Another thing my opponent says is that we must look at a persons tolerant actions to determine the person intolerance I find that irrelevant and ignorant it doesn't matter if that person was tolerant to other groups, that doesn't make that person any less intolerance

William Howard Taft

My opponent brings up William H Taft which was a progressive in name only so I don't consider him a progressive. In fact when the GOP split in 1912 Taft joined the conservatives and in fact sided with the conservatives constantly in policy issues (5).

R2: Second Generation Progressives

Herbert Hoover

You are completely wrong Herbert Hoover was objected to conservatism and even described himself as a conservative (6). I don't need to explain his actions because first we all know what they were and second there similar to FDR.


Ok let me start off with this saying FDR isn't a progressive is like saying Ronald Reagan wasn't a conservative. A progressive website even said that FDR's policies is what TR and Wilson advocated (7). Need I say more.

R3: Modern Day Progressives

George H.W. Bush

When someone says Bush 43 they mean George W Bush not H.W. Bush


Obama said himself that he was a progressive (8). Also my opponent says that since Obama is a person of faith he cant be intolerant of people of faith this is irrelevant once again and doesn't make him any less intolerant. Also it is intolerance because he has ignored the church, its against there religious teachings and if Obama doesn't care that makes him intolerant to religion.

C1: Most Progressives

Again there is no measure of all progressive intolerance therefore to judge the progressive ideology we must judge there representatives and organizations.

Planned Parenthood

As we know Planned Parenthood is a prominent progressive organization and the founder was a progressive (9). This organization was founded on racial grounds Margaret Sanger's say Birth Control as a way as limiting minorities from reproducing (10). This shows she is intolerant and this represents progressives because it is a prominent progressive organization and they continue to represent her values in fact they call her a hero (11).

Maxine Waters

Maxine Waters is one of the more modern leaders of the progressives today. I don't need to say much about her we already know who she is. One of her intolerant actions is telling the tea party to go to hell (12). This shows she is intolerant towards conservatives. She represents progressive because this is who the progressives elected to represent them in congress.

Boy Scouts of America

In more modern history the Boy Scouts were attacked from not letting a homosexuals join the Boy Scouts the decision went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled saying that the Boy Scouts have the right to not let homosexuals join the boy scouts. But Democrats in congress weren't happy and decided to make a bill that would repeal the federal charter given to the Boy Scouts in 1916. The only people to co-sponsor the bill were part of the Progressive Congressional Cactus. (13). That is another example of intolerance


As it stands 83% of Progressive Presidents have been intolerant and I have proved that most progressives can be labeled as intolerant because of the people who represented them and the organizations affiliated with them.

TR- Intolerant

Wilson- Intolerant

Taft- Not a progressive

Hoover- Intolerant

FDR- Intolerant

George W Bush- Tolerant

Obama- Intolerant

Most Progressives- Intolerant


2. race.html













Progressive Founding Fathers

These men were leaders in the progressive movement, but they were not the only leaders of the progressive movement.


Pro claims that TR did endorse the book, yet his link does not work, so it cannot be concluded that he did so from the evidence presented by my opponent.


My opponent argues that since we cannot judge whether the bill was supported by progressives, we must see who progressives feel about Wilson's presidency as a whole. In doing so, he commits the logical fallacy of division [1]. This fallacy is when a person draws a conclusion about something as a whole, and then tries to say that the parts of the whole also bear that quality.

Just because liberals (which are not necessarily the same as progressives I might add) like a president as a whole, does not mean they approve of every action he took. I can use personal experience to verify this, as I myself am a liberal. I do like some of the actions taken by Wilson, such as his 14 points plan. Nevertheless, I do not approve of the Sedition Act. I believe most progressives would agree with me on this point.

You cannot draw conclusions about the individual parts from looking at the hole the way that my opponent has done, because that is a logical fallacy.


While it is true that Taft did join the Republicans over the Bull Moose Party, my opponent's source says that Taft did consider himself a progressive [2].

Second Generation


My opponent's defense of Hoover makes no sense. He says "Hoover was objected to conservatism and even described himself as a conservative." First, just because a person calls themselves something, does not make them that. I am sure that we are all familiar with so-called conservatives, Republicans, and Democrats in name only. Someone labeling themselves something does not make them that thing. My opponent continues by saying that he does not need to talk about Hoover's actions as they were similar to FDR's, but I am afraid it would have been greatly helpful for his case to elaborate on that point. His vagueness can only lead us to say that based on what has been presented on his part, Hoover cannot be considered a progressive.


The trend of vagueness continues. My opponent makes an analogy between FDR and Reagan without explaining it in the least: there is no reason presented to believe that FDR being a progressive is like Reagan being a conservative. He then says that a progressive website calls FDR's policies what TR and Wilson wanted. This one website, without any substantiation on what is meant by this on his part, is not enough for us to conclude that FDR was a progressive.

Modern Progressives

A tale of two Bushes

My mistake. Pro was referring to the latter Bush, but my objection still stands. We still have no reason to consider either Bush a progressive, therefore both are irrelevant.


Pro claims that it is possible for a person to be intolerant of themselves. While this may be true, it is clear that Obama is tolerant of people of faith: He has enough trust in people of faith that he supports one as President of the United States. He also is married to a person of faith and is likely raising his children to have faith. If he was so intolerant of people of faith, he would not have done these things. My opponent says that Obama has ignored the Catholic Church, however the U. S. is a secular country, so giving special exceptions to a religious institution would be a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause [3]. Obama is clearly a tolerant person.

Most Progressives

Planned Parenthood

While it is true that the Planned Parenthood founder considered light-skinned races to be above dark skin races, she was not intolerant of dark skin races as described on Wikipedia: "Sanger believed that lighter-skinned races were superior to darker-skinned races, but would not tolerate bigotry among her staff, nor any refusal to work within interracial projects" [4]. She may have held racist beliefs, but she was not intolerant. My opponent also claims that Planned Parenthood continues to represent her values. While it is true that they do represent some of her values such as reducing the need for abortions, saving women and children's lives, and strengthening the family [5], no evidence is presented leading to the conclusion that the organization still agrees with their founder's values concerning eugenics.

Maxine Waters

My opponent is taking Water's quote partially out of context. The full quote is "I'm not afraid of anybody. This is a tough game. You can't be intimidated. You can't be frightened. And as far as I'm concerned, the 'tea party' can go straight to hell" [6]. Based on the full context of the quote, it can be inferred that she is not being intolerant of conservatives, but rather intolerant of intolerant actions by the tea party. Intolerance of intolerance equals tolerance.

Boy Scouts of America

The BSA is not a tolerant organization because of their discrimination against gays. The progressives in Congress were being intolerant towards intolerance, which equal tolerance.


None of the presidents mentioned by my opponent, except for Wilson, were shown through solid evidence and reasoning to be both progressives and intolerant. Even if he had been able to show that all of them were both of these things, he could still not make the claim that most progressives are intolerant. I was able to demonstrate that the modern progressives he mentioned were not intolerant.

Finally, in R2 I explained why being intolerant is at odds with the ideas of progressivism, therefore it does not make sense for most progressives to be intolerant. This point was never refuted.

It is clear that my opponent has not met his BOP to show a significant history of intolerance among progressives.

I thank my opponent for this debate.

Vote Con!!







Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Beginner 5 years ago
I think con should have won. Progressives are a large group of people and would better be represented by polls.
It would also be fallacious to site old presidents to support the claim of intolerance:
I could say that Europeans know nothing about the American continents and site their old maps.
I could say that Americans endorsed slavery and site slavery laws from a couple centuries back.
Oh well.
Posted by Contra 5 years ago
Roy, we both know that is bull. Come on.
Posted by Magicr 5 years ago
That's quite the generalization, Roy. Many, if not most modern progressives are white and Christian. Do show me how a significant faction of modern progressives of Asians, fat people, and business people. I believe that the intolerance you refer to when it comes to conservatives goes both ways. I am not denying that some progressives are not tolerant of conservatives, but there are many more tea-partiers who are intolerant of liberals. While progressives may strongly disagree with people who do not wish to allow women to choose or people who choose to ignore the 97% of climate scientists who say that global warming is happening and is human-caused, I would not go so far as to say that progressives are intolerant of these people, merely their ideas.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
Contemporary progressives are only intolerant of Christians, whites, Orientals, fat people, conservatives, libertarians, the politically incorrect, business people, anti-abortionists, and global warming deniers. Everyone else is free to say and do as they please.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
The case against Wilson was actually understated. Wilson was a Southern segregationist who segregated the civil service for the first time.
Posted by Chaos88 5 years ago
Progressives have been around for about 100 years (I belive TR or Taft was one, according to Air America), I think that is enough to have a debate on in regards to history, assuming it is correct given the vague definition of "progressive".
Posted by Mirza 5 years ago
16kadams said, "auto correct is crap"

Good thing there are language classes, eh?
Posted by 16kadams 5 years ago
Spain = span

Resolution: auto correct is crap
Posted by 16kadams 5 years ago
Define history. Progressiveism is a fairly new ideology therefore I assume the time Spain will be rather limited
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
This is not likely going to get a serious debater because of the risk of Instigator semantics.

I would recommend changing the resolution to something like "Progressives have a significant history of intolerance," and the debate can center around what is a significant amount and what is not (that is debatable). I would also highly recommend defining words in your OP, so that your opponent does not.

What does "Progressives" mean in this debate? Are we looking at a particular time reference or anything?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
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Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's R2 is wildly overstated and full of unsubstantiated claims. He calmed and did better in later rounds. Pro didn't have to prove that all or even most progressives were intolerant, only that the history is "significant." That's a low bar, but Pro did well enough to carry the resolution. Still, Pro left claims unsubstantiated, so it was not a clean win. I'm giving sources con to balance the score with respect to proof.