Strengths and Weaknesses of Progressivism
Progressive Era in American history has brought many important changes and reforms. These changes that took place at the beginning of the twentieth century shaped the modern American society. Improvements in democracy, civil rights, education, anti-trust legislation and banking system helped to strengthen the United States and brought the country to its current place of the world’s leader. At the same time, some of the important goals declared by the progressivism such as elimination of the big business influence on the government were never fully achieved and eventually brought down the movement’s popular support.
Progressivism has changed the United States in all major aspects of political and social life. Introduction of direct primaries, initiative, referendum and recall reform have improved democracy. Women’s suffrage have brought political rights to social groups that were artificially banned from electoral process. These changes have helped to substantially decrease political corruption and improve government’s efficiency.
Progressive reforms have brought better working conditions for factory workers, have stopped use of child labor and have raised the quality of products by establishing industry standards.
Creation of the Federal Reserve Board by President Wilson have shaped the financial system of the United States and the entire world.
At the same time Progressivism has failed to completely eliminate the influence of big business on the government. Many reforms and initiatives were limited to white middle-class Anglo-Saxon part of the population. Progressive reforms have brought an unprecedented wave of immigration to the United States, a process the country was not prepared for. As a result, many immigrants were forced to live in appalling conditions. Many of the Progressive initiatives were blocked by the court system.
Despite the obvious shortcomings, the Progressive Era has advanced the United States to a higher civilizational development level and has sealed its role as a world leader.