Progressivism is the support of social progress in society through innovative reforms that often abandon such things as conservatism and traditionalism. This movement can be viewed as a philosophy based on the idea of change and claims to achieve fulfillment in the development of human life. As a political ideology, progressivism can acquire different and even opposite beliefs and views, which, nevertheless, are always associated with the concept of social progress and improving the living conditions of a large number of people. Despite the intentional positive direction and purposes, progressivism to this day meets with both support and condemnation.
The Development and Direction of the Phenomenon of Progressivism
In the late 19th – early 20th centuries, The Progressive Movement acquired the features of a socio-political movement associated with the legislative activities of the middle and lower classes. This process is also known in the history as the era of Progressivism. The main goals of the progressives were the prosperous fight against the corruption of the US political elite. Some progressives also supported the closure of numerous drinking establishments and the no alcohol law to diminish the number of citizens with an inappropriate style of life. The campaign was also joined by supporters who advocated for setting an equal right voting policy, improving the health care system, and modernizing some other areas of public life. In 1911-1912, the already former US President Theodore Roosevelt created the Progressive Party of the United States and took part in the presidential elections. It was one of the most successful third-party outcomes in the US presidential election (The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics). However, the electorate has not been able to establish itself as a self-governing force in American politics for a long time.
Doubtful Consequences of the Movement and Argumentative Restrictions to Succeeding
Many progressive figures, such as Louis Brandeis, expected to help the United state’s governmental system better satisfy the needs of the people by making government employment and assistance more dynamic and effective. Instead of obtaining constitutional evidence against a ten-hour workday for women, he used scientific data and principles to confirm the disadvantage of a long workday. However, the progressive’s drive for efficiency sometimes ran counter to the progressives’ drive for democracy. The discharge of political power to the elected executives and the transfer of all licenses to acknowledged officials disgraced the voice not only of noted politicians but the citizens. Centralized problem-solving by qualified authorities and a reduction in the powers of local organizations made the administration less corrupt but more distant and isolated from the people it served. The movement defenders who always emphasized inclusivity started a controversial argumentation. They determined that only objective experts could make better decisions. It severely limited freedom of action in the labor market and stalled the administrative segment. (Novak, 2020). This approach caused a sharp reaction among citizens and placed a fair question about the place of democracy in such distribution of powers.
Like any liberal campaign, The Progressive Movement prompted freedom of rights and the enrichment of the value of human life in an equal society. Numerous reforms have been carried out in the fields of administration, culture, education, medicine, and other sufficient areas of life. During this movement, the child labor warrants were ascertained, trade unions emerged, working conditions for women improved, education concerns were raised, and corruption declined (The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics). However, one should not lose sight of the fact that this good intention turned out to be impracticable without a severe limitation of freedoms. The original idea of a campaign for absolute democracy and freedom faced the need for serious regulation and restriction of the community against the will of some citizens. Any positively-minded idea of the activists met with a share of totalitarianism and misunderstanding on the part of people.
The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics. (2017). The Heritage Foundation. Web.
Novak, W. J. (2020). Institutional Economics and the Progressive Movement for the Social Control of American Business. Business History Review, 93(4), 665–696. Web.