Was Progressivism an inspirational movement to help the nation realize its democratic ideals? Comment.

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The statement is quite valid.  Progressivist thinkers recognized the time frame in which they were immersed and reacted to it.  The Industrialization of the late 19th century created vast amounts of wealth for the few and political interests helped to protect this state of affairs.  The consolidation of this wealth in the hands of an elite group and the vast amount of economic and political challenge this posed to the majority of workers and American citizens helped spawn the Progressivist movement.  Thinkers in the movement understood that the widening the enfranchisement of Americans in the social, economic, and political process helped bring the nation closer to its ideals of a democratic experience and experiment where more people are able to pursue their own dreams.  In the idea of establishing worker's unions to protect rights, increasing political voices in the process, and seeking to redress wrongs through a system of public awareness were all ways in which Progressivism spoke for "the other half" and moved closer to the full embrace of American ideals.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Assuming that we are talking about the United States, I would say that Progressivism was mostly helpful in allowing the nation to realize its democratic ideals.

The Progressives did a lot of things that promoted democracy.  For example, they enacted a constitutional amendment allowing for the direct election of Senators.  They also brought in things such as the secret ballot, initiatives and referendums.  All of these things allowed for more democracy in terms of elections.  Importantly, they also gave women the right to vote.

On the other hand, the Progressives were somewhat anti-democratic on the level of personal rights.  The most glaring example of this was Prohibition.  The Progressives disapproved of people drinking alcohol (partly because of anti-immigrant sentiment) and more or less made that illegal.  By doing so, they took away what is (arguably) a personal right just because they disapproved of that particular activity.

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