The progressives were trying to create a society that would be run by the “native American” middle class and would uphold and enforce their values.
The progressives were suspicious of the rich. They felt the rich abused poor workers. They felt the rich abused the public through their monopolies. They felt the rich abused the political process through bribing and otherwise controlling elected officials.
The progressives were suspicious of the poor. They felt the poor had bad lifestyles. They were especially unhappy with the fact that the poor tended to drink in bars. They did not like the way that the poor used their votes to support urban political machines.
For these reasons, the progressives were trying to take power from the rich and poor and give it to the middle class. The middle class, they felt, were the truly good people who would run the government well.