What is your opinion of progressivism?What is your opinion of progressivism?

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martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, progressivism has made the United States a better place to live. Progressives worked to solve the many problems the country faced in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  If one looks at the reforms progressives successfully implemented, I think one would be impressed.  Some reforms include safer food with the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and The Pure Food and Drug Act.  Anti-trust laws were passed to protect the consumer from unfair business practices.  Women received the right to vote. A national park system was created. Political reforms such as the initiative, referendum and recall helped improve the political system in this country.  And this is just a short list of the accomplishments of the progressives and progressivism.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, the Progressives are somewhat misnamed.  To me, they were a group of rather elitist people who tried to impose their values on other people who did not necessarily share them.

The most obvious example of this was the imposition of Prohibition.  The Progressives felt that immigrant culture was inferior to that of "native" Americans.  Because of this, they wanted to try to "reform" the immigrants and make them more like middle class "natives."  In order to do this, they did various things, the most intrusive of which was Prohibition.

In other words the Progressives tried to force their values on people who did not share them.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The definition of "progressive" has changed over time, so if we're working with the assumption that a progressive is modeled after the 19th century reformers, then I think they are an essential part of the evolution of a democracy.  Progressives have been the conscience of business and the government for generations, and helped us to reform the society and government we live in and with so that we are closer to democracy than we were before.

I believe Progressives are especially important when it comes to human rights, equal rights and the environment in our nation's history.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with #5.  Modern Progressives have a similar elitist agenda, it seems to me, and make no apologies for it.  In fact, the idea that "they" can make better decisions for "us" than we can for ourselves quite frankly scares me.  (I'd rather screw it up myself than have someone else do it, I guess.)  The first generation of Progressives did, perhaps, bring some important changes to the country at a time when they were needed; today, though, the movement does not appear to me to truly have the best interest of the entire country as their agenda.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There does seem to be a slight division between the comments of editors above. I do agree that on the one hand, the progressive movement often involves immense elitism as they try to impose their ideas of what is "right" on to others, no matter what they think, but the same time, I think there is some scope for agreeing with #3 and recognising the debt we owe in terms of advances in human rights legislation thanks to the progressive movement. So try to analyse both sides of the argument before making any conclusions.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Personally, I feel like some elements of progressivism were naive and ultimately did more harm than good. However I do agree with many of the progressive ideas. I do think that laws are sometimes necessary to make sure people do the right thing, because people always act in their own self-interest.
epollock | Student

Progressive-ism is a movement that keeps going forward, that keeps developing and not stagnating. Progress comes in all forms of life including but not limited to: technology, systems of political thought, and any other social endeavor that can be improved or made better.

krishna-agrawala | Student

The terms progressivism and progressive movement may be used by different people in different ways. Some people view progressivism as general action directed towards social and economic progress of any society. Others may view it as some specific movement limited to a period an time. For example, the term has been used in some context to refer to the movement started in Wisconsin State of the USA during the early 1900's, under which many educational, social, political, and economic reforms were undertaken that were later adopted by other states and the federal government.

My post here is about the campaign for economic, political, and social reform in the United States, that began during a nationwide depression that lasted from 1893 until about 1897, and the changes in social, economic, and legal conditions brought about it.  The movement ended with the entry of USA in World War I in 1917.

This movement was directed at solving the problems created by the Rapid industrialization in the USA during 1800's. The problems addressed by reforms included business monopolies, dishonest politics, crowded city slums, and poor working conditions in factories and mines.

During the 1890's and early 1900's, the movement helped bring about laws aimed at relieving these problems. The progressive movement resulted in increased government regulation of business and tax reforms. The reformers had their greatest effect at the local and state levels. Opposition to reform was much stronger at the national level, though the U.S. Congress did adopt some of the progressive key measures.

The progressive movement definitely helped to improve the condition of the common people in the USA. This movement also laid the the foundation of modern industrial practices, that rely more on improving the the capability and motivation of people rather than exploiting them. It also resulted in realization of some selective control over private business for ensuring common good of the society. These developments have resulted in overall development of economy benefiting the people as well as big business.

npoore84 | Student

In my opinion, the Progressive Era was a great era in which many laws that are in place today were created. Because of those people dedicated to reforming society, women's rights were addressed. The 19th Amendment was passed giving women equal rights as those of men and the right to vote. Yet some of those that supported Progressivism went a little too far at times.

One of the examples of this was the passage of the Prohibition amendment which outlawed the consumption and sale of alcohol. In my opinion, the passage of this amendment was going too far, and Progressives were trying to control too many aspects of American lives. Due to the passage of this amendment, crime increased and many hid the fact they were still making and selling alcohol. After progressivism failed in the 1920's this amendment was repealed.

Progressives tried hard to control many aspects of American life and as a result, they failed and this political group went under in the 1920's. But it is because of this group that many of our systems are still in place today.

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