Describe significant problems of the Gilded Age.

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

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In my mind, one of the most evident problems of the Gilded Age was the collusion between business and politics.  The increase in capitalism and the amazing amount of wealth that was generated was the train engine that guided the rest of the nation.  Politics struck a conciliatory tone to what business needed and what business could be done.  The use of money as a means to influence legislation, cabinet appointments, as well as the idea that government should stay out of economic affairs, even if issues such as workers' rights or business abuses were ignored, becomes vitally important in the political process.  In my mind, this becomes one of the age's most pressing problems.  Individuals who were crushed under the weight of capitalism and the abuses that followed never really had their voice authenticated and validated.  At the same time, government was not "of the people" when it only represented the few wealthy elite.  In this, I think that there is significant challenge presented in terms of ensuring that government be responsive to the needs of its people, as it only seemed to be hearing the voices of the powerful rich.

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