How was the New Deal provide an answer to the challenges posed by the era of Progressive reform?  

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At its most basic levels, the Progressive Era asked the question of how power inequities and the lack of social and economic justice can be resolved.  One of the challenges of the Progressive Era was to force some type of discussion and transformation of both society and government to pay attention to those who were existing on the bottom of the capitalist structure.  To this end, the New Deal addressed those challenges as it became evident that more people were placed at the bottom of the economic structure, something that they no longer seemingly controlled but rather something by which they were controlled.  The New Deal's emphasis on relief, recovery, and reform all addressed the challenges posed by the era of Progressive reform.  The Progressives believed that government and society needed to pay greater attention and do something about those who were being marginalized by capitalism.  The New Deal did this.  In its idea of getting all Americans back to work, embracing the idea of public works, ensuring that government intervene and assist those in need, as well as transforming the fundamental role of government to something more inteventionist and more driven to assist, the New Deal represented an answer to the questions that the Progressives posed.  In many ways, the New Deal did a great deal to not only answer the challenges, but in some respects kill the Progressive reform elements.  Progressivists were writing at a time period when the economic affairs of the nation were incapable of change.  Government was in a non- interventionist position and so many failed to understand that capitalism, when undergoing severe contraction, can do so much to so many.  The New Deal presented a vision of government, and in society, that was fundamentally different from what the Progressives had seen.  From this, it not only addressed their challenges, but might have put the era to bed once and for all.