The Progressive Movement, The New Deal & The Great Society
The years 1895-1920 basically encompass what was known as the Progressive Movement in American political history. Changing socio-economic and political trends were responsible for the Movement. Increasing urbanization, industrialization, and immigration created a demographic shift from rural to urban areas. Along with this shift, urban Americans lost a great deal of influence over national politics and the economy. This gave rise to the Progressive Movement, a movement that Burson (2002) argues was ôtwo different power groups, with differing views of what the role of government should be, fighting it out in the political arenaö (6).
The progressives, as they were known, associated themselves with reform and traditional American values, mainly Protestant, Northern European values. This group was basically in the minority in many cases, but its members were old-stock, upper and upper-middle class Americans with enormous economic clout. The progressives pitted themselves against the Democrats who were labeled the ôMachineö, because of their tendency in the eyes of Progressives to spend money where it would manufacture the most votes. The Progressives billed themselves as ôReformersö, but in reality the reform was a veiled attack on what they believed was increasing control of the government and economy by immigrants and the lower classes. We can see that progressive only meant reform to the Progressives, because the policies they hoped to implement were beneficial to themselves. The Progressive era is characterized by prohibition, immigration restriction, racial segregation, super-patriotism, fundamentalism, fear of communism and socialism, strike-busting, and efficient, business-like government (Burson, 2002, 4).
The Progressives waged their battle for control by instituting various political changes, such as the recall, the referendum, and the initiative....