Discuss Progressive political change on the national level.

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Up until the early 1900s, the majority of the American public held the view that the least government was the best form of government. However, as America became more industrialized, Americans also had to battle against corruption, such as monopolies and unfair work conditions. Reformers like President Theodore Roosevelt used legislation to make significant social reforms. Theodore Roosevelt's reforms gave birth to the Progressive Era of the 1890s to the 1920s, and statistics show that America is now entering a second Progressive Era.

One among many of President Theodore Roosevelt's reforms was granting the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the ability to establish railroad rates since railroad companies themselves were frequently changing rates to maximize their own profit at the expense of industries who used the railroad lines for commerce. A second of his many reforms was signing into legislation the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, making monopolies illegal.

The first president to carry Progressivism beyond the 1920s was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). Elected in 1932, FDR launched a program he dubbed the New Deal, a very progressive plan to raise America out of the Great Depression. The New Deal included the development of the Civilian Conservation Corps to create new manual labor jobs; the establishment of the National Recovery Administration to set down codes of law for businesses, including set minimum wages and maximum weekly work hours; and the Social Security Act of 1935, which created a system under which the elderly would be granted a pension and the unemployed would be compensated (Roosevelt Institute, "The New Deal").
 
Many of FDR's reforms are still with us today, and statistics show that the presidential campaign of President Barack Obama launched a new Progressive Age. President Obama won 53% of the popular vote, showing us that American citizens want progressive changes in "health care, energy and education" and strongly back "health care for all, a transition to clean energy and building a 21st-century education system" (Center for American Progress, "New Progressive America"). Also, there are significant shifts in the voting population that are making progressive reforms possible: voting in the conservative white working middle class has dropped by 11%, whereas voting among college graduates and minorities has risen by 4% and 15% respectively. Both college students and minorities tend to have more progressive views.

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akannan's profile pic

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

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Progressive political change on the national level is a reminder to everyone as to what should be as opposed to what is in America.

Progressive political change on the national level is rooted in trying to make things better.  From its birth in the early 1900s, the movement focused on identifying and fixing wrongs in society.  The fight for women's suffrage is one such example.  This movement was Progressive in nature because it sought to redress a flaw in society.  Women were being denied the right to vote and it was made clear that action needed to be taken. The result was the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Teddy Roosevelt represents Progressive political change in his tie as President.  Roosevelt's advocacy in conservation, breaking up trusts and seeking to reform unfair business practices, as well as initiatives in public health and safety are examples of identifying issues that needed to be changed.  Roosevelt saw realities that needed to be changed.  He was Progressive in his "bully pulpit" approach to the Presidency. This continued Progressive political change by seeking to make right what was wrong.  It sought to do this on a large, national scale.

The 1960s might be one another moment in American History where Progressive political change on the national level was focused on improvement.  The fight for Equal Rights for women and Civil Rights for African- Americans are examples of Progressive political change on the national level. These movements were seismic in their changes to American politics and society.  They forced people to reconfigure the way they saw the world and their place in it.  They also go to show that Progressive political change is a wide ranging reminder to American society of what should be as opposed to what is.

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