Is it accurate to say that the Progressives wanted “freedom?”

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to this depends largely on how we define freedom.  The Progressives generally wanted more democracy, and democracy is, of course, a form of freedom.  However, they did not by any means believe in the idea that everyone should be free to do just as they pleased.

The Progressives wanted a more democratic system in which the government would not be controlled by the rich elites.  They wanted senators to be elected directly.  They wanted primary elections and the ability to vote on recalls, referendums, and initiatives.   In such a system, the votes and voices of the regular, middle class people would count for much more than they previously did.  This would mean, in a sense, that the non-elites would have more political freedom.

However, the Progressives were somewhat less interested in economic freedom and personal freedom.  They did not want large companies to be allowed to create monopolies.  This is a restriction of sorts on economic freedoms.  Most famously, they did not want people to be allowed to drink alcohol.  This is clearly an infringement on personal freedoms.

Thus, the Progressives were in favor of some kinds of freedoms, but not in favor of others.