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Progressivism

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Progressivism implies a philosophy which welcomes innovations and reforms in the political, economic, and social order. The Progressive movement, 1901 to 1917, was ultimately the triumph of conservatism rather than a victory for liberalism. In a general sense, the conservative goals of this period justified the Liberal reforms enacted by
Progressive leaders. Deviating from the “traditional” definition of conservatism (a resistance to change and a disposition of hostility to innovations in the political, social, and economic order), the Conservatist triumph was in the sense that there was an effort to maintain basic social and economic relations vital to a capitalist society. The
Progressive leaders essentially wanted to perpetuate Liberal reform in order to bring upon general conservatism.
Expansion of the federal government’s powers, competition and economic distribution of wealth, and the social welfare of American citizens concerned the many leaders of this era. The business influence on politics was quite significant of the Progressive Era. Not only did the three leading Progressive political figures, Roosevelt, Taft, and
Wilson, bring upon new heights to government regulation, but also the great business leaders of this era defined the units of political intervention. With political capitalism rising to fame, Progressive politics experienced new themes and areas. The inevitability of federal regulation policies, reformation of social welfare, conservation, and various innovations with banking led to one conservative effort: the preservation of existing powers and economic/social relations. The political leaders of this ear were conservative in that they all believed in the fundamentals of basic capitalism. The various forms of anti-trust legislation presented by each president made the nation one step closer to providing a stable, predictable, and secure, therefore, conservative capitalist society.
Theodore Roosevelt’s statist tendencies brought new meaning to government regulation. Roosevelt’s
Anti-Trust policy of 1902 pledged government intervention to break up illegal monopolies and regulate corporations for the public good. Roosevelt felt that “bad” trusts threatened competition and markets. in order to restore free competition, President Roosevelt ordered the Justice department to prosecute corporations pursing monopolistic pr... ... middle of paper ...

...ed and are Liberal indeed. However, the Liberal reforms reinforced the original conservative goals.
Business and political leaders accepted the growing competition. Laissez faire, complete Liberalism, hardly ever existed and will not appear in the near future. Political capitalism, by definition from Gabriel Kolko (author of “The
Triumph of Conservatism), is the utilization of political outlets to attain conditions of stability, predictability, and security in the economy. The fact that federal regulation of the economy was conservative in its effect in preserving existing power and economic relations in society shows that federal regulation in the economy was conservative as well. Through the many antitrust acts and various economic and social policies, the Progressive Era ultimately operated on the assumption that the general welfare of the community could be best served by satisfying the concrete needs of business. The big business and business leaders influenced the regulation and the government worked for the people, promoting competition and decentralization. Hence, the Progressive movement served to preserve original goals, not reform society with Liberalism.
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