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One of the main goals of the Progressive reformers was an increase in democracy. These reformers wanted the people to have more direct control over government in a number of ways. Let us look at some of these.
The Seventeenth Amendment. This amendment provided for the direct election of US senators. Before this was ratified, senators were selected by state legislatures. This amendment provided greater democracy because it gave voters the ability to elect senators directly.
Primary elections. Before primaries were introduced, candidates from the two parties were selected by party activists in caucuses and conventions. Only a few people got any say in the process. Primary elections allowed the party membership in general to vote on who would represent the party. This, too, gave the people more direct control over government.
Initiative, referendum, and recall. These innovations allowed people to vote directly on a number of things. The initiative and referendum allowed them to directly vote on proposed laws. The recall allowed them to decide whether to remove an elected official from office before that person’s term was up. Again, these provided people with more direct control over the government.
In these ways, Progressive reforms allowed for more democracy by giving people more chances to exert direct control over their governments.
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