Roles in Progressivism

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Roles in Progressivism

By | October 2012
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The dynamics of progressivism were made by ordinary people by the sometimes frantic mass supporters of progressive leaders, by rank-and-file voters willing to trust a reform candidate. The order of progressivism can be traced by events which aroused large numbers of people an exciting muckraking article, an outrageous political scandal, an eye-opening legislative investigation, or a tragic social disaster. Events such as these gave reform its measure and its power. The standing and influence that the office has today began to develop with Theodore Roosevelt. Throughout the second half of the 1800s, Congress had been the most powerful branch of government. And although the presidency began to grow more power during the 1880s, Roosevelt completed the transition to a strong, effective executive. He made the position as president the center of American politics. Roosevelt did this through his personality and through aggressive executive action. He thought that the President had the right to use any and all powers unless they were specifically denied to him. He believed that as President, he had a unique relationship with and responsibility to the people, and therefore wanted to challenge laws that were already made about how limited government should be. Government, he said, should serve as an agent of reform for the people. His presidency gifted the progressive movement with integrity, lending the reputation of the White House to welfare legislation, government regulation, and the conservation movement.

The desire to make society more fair and unbiased, with economic potential for Americans, lay behind much of Roosevelt's program. The President also changed the government's relationship to big business. Prior to his presidency, the government had generally given the leaders of industry plenty of time to accomplish their goals. Roosevelt believed that the government had the right and the responsibility to regulate big business so that its actions did not...
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