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Q: To what extent was the Progressive Era actually progressive?
A: To what extent was the Progressive Era actually progressive? The American constitution prior to the Progressives was oriented toward a local form of democracy centered in the states. [ The Senate was elected by the state legislatures, and because no law could be passed without the concurrence of the Senate, the States had a natural check against over-expansion of federal legislation or control.
Socialists had the idea of a centralized political democracy which was less than democratic because the governing agents were answerable to a greatly enlarged polity. To accomplish this, they supported the Seventeenth Amendment, stripping the states (unconstitutionally) of their representation in the national councils. (FYI: It is unconstitutional because the Constitution prohibits a State from being stripped of its representation without its consent, and most of the states in the South plus Rhode Island and Utah refused to ratify). Let me put that another way: In the Constitutional Convention of 1787, an important debate was over how many representatives were needed to represent the American people. One per 40,000 was selected, changed to 1 per 30,000 at the last minute when Washington penciled that in. This and the limitations imposed on the national councils actually increases the democracy by moving the fountainhead of legislation closer to the local level, where representatives actually represent a fewer number of people. Indeed, the states in New England were so small that a representative's constituency actually could be less than 100 people. Clearly, that is much closer to participatory democracy than 1 per 30,000, and when you consider today, much closer than the 1 per 600,000 which serves the modern Congress. Representatives actually know and live among the represented, so they truly represent. The flip side of that, of course, is that the growth and spread of capitalism created problems so geographically spread out that local legislation probably could not redress them. In that sense, one would have to acknowledge that Progressivism succeeded, but that judgment is made by us after the fact. ]
lpeples|Points 270|
Asked 8/10/2013 9:43:47 AM
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