What did the positions of the candidates in the 1912 Election reveal about the range of Progressive Reforn ideas?U.S. history

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The election of 1912 displayed to what extent Progressivism had become a presence in the landscape of American Politics.  Taft, the Republican, could not enjoy the support of Roosevelt, who felt that his Progressivist agenda would not be faithfully implemented with his fellow Republican.  Breaking off and forming the Bull Moose Party, Roosevelt became the focal point of the Progressivist discussion with Wilson, the Democratic nominee.  This relegated Taft to the margins, and the debate centered on how to the two front runners conceived of a political vision steeped in Progressivist thought.  Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" featured a Progressivist agenda that was rooted in government regulation, a holdover from T.R.'s "trust buster" image, with a healthy dose of interventionism.  The Princeton educated Wilson demonstrated a more subtle form of Progressivism, dubbed "New Freedom" was less interventionist,  but still progressivist in tone with its moderate level of government regulation.  Wilson was more in favor of small business, than Roosevelt's vision of business abuses that had to be curtailed.  The discussion of where government intervention was to be was a Progressivist idea in its own right, demonstrating that government can be a tool to help the body politic.  Wilson wins the election, due to the Republican split vote.  However, in another statement of Progressivist relevancy, the Populist Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, threw his support behind Wilson, ensuring his victory.  Progressivism had become such a strong philosophy and so relevant in American political thought that it was able to embrace its former sense of self in Populism and not miss a beat in its cadence- like ascendancy of the White House in 1912.