All movements begin with sincerity, and modern liberalism, no doubt, began with a serious concern for the general welfare and a sincere, although misguided, confidence in a benevolent State. Betraying classical liberal principles, sacrificing a portion of liberty for security, was done, I'm sure, with the idea that this one pragmatic diversion from principles would not do much damage to liberty as a whole. besides, America is wealthy, they thought, and it's only right that a good nation takes care of its own. Of course, in order to finance such a government interventionand expansion of power, taxes must be raised, but as long as they were progressive, little harm could come about.
This is what Joseph Conrad wrote about revolution in his novel, Under Western Eyes.
In a real revolution, the best characters do not come to the front. A violent revolution falls into the hands of narrow-minded fanatics and of tyrannical hypocrites at first. Afterwards come the turn of the pretentious intellectual failures of the time. Such are the chiefs and the leaders. You will notice I have left out the mere rogues. The scrupulous and just, the noble, humane and devoted natures, the unselfish and the intelligent may begin a movement, but it passes from them. They are not the leaders of a revolution. They are its victims: the victims of disgust, disenchantmet -- often of remorse. Hopes grotesquely betrayed, ideals caricatured -- that is the definition of revolutionary success.
The only difference is that the modern liberal revolution wasn't violent, unless you count the violence of WWI as the justification for classical liberalism turning to statism. The change was definitely revolutionary, with the 16th amendment funding the revolution.
For many who denied as long as they could the slow perversion of modern liberalism it took awhile to accept the corruption of liberal values, and many have still not accepted the corruption and dangers of the statist exploitation which has developed. So much hope was invested in the State, and grand narratives were developed to justify the statist direction. Liberals proclaimed a rightous cause and behind this cause they hid, not lookng at the deterioration of freedom, the wealth being stolen by powerful, self-serving interests, the cronyism and severe class/race/gender/age divisions which have split the nation into warring factions fighting over a dwindling State feeding trough until now it's empty.
It's sad that the great tradition of liberalism has been corrupted, because those original liberal principles are the foundation of America's beginning. The average well-intentioned and sincere liberal appears to be blind to rogues representing liberalism in government -- they continue to be elected. Rangel, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Schumer, Dodd -- the cognitive dissonance is astounding when you consider the rhetoric against the reality. And now progressivism, which is just another form of socialism, is doing even more harm to the liberal image, making extremist-apologists out of people I'm sure wouldn't want to live in a progressive-controlled world.
Liberals need to find a way to separate themselves from progressivism and the statism that's developed from years of pragmatic compromising. I would like to see the word restored, so I can claim it once again with pride.