Political Reforms In The Progressive Era
In addition to cleaning up the cities, Progressives also lobbied to clean up the government. One of the most notable governmental changes was the instigation of the initiative, referendum, and recall, which permitted political decisions to become more democratic—citizens were authorized to demand attention to particular issues, determine which issues were to be evaluated by the people first, and impeach officials they believed were not effectively performing their responsibilities (Schultz 2014, 339). Furthermore, Progressive governors such as Robert La Follette took steps in order to end corruption in state governments, eventually succeeding in enacting direct party primaries, which ensured that voters and not political bosses and the like selected political candidates. Such political outcry was so extensive that constitutional amendments were ratified to enlarge the governments role, specifically the 16th Amendment, which permitted the government to collect income tax, and the 17th Amendment, which shifted the responsibility of election of Senators to …show more content…
Progressive presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson embarked a sequence of executive reforms that affected the entire country.
Roosevelt, directly influenced by reading muckraker Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book The Jungle, passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act that demanded the use of good meat, properly labeled ingredients, and health-motivated procedures. He was also instrumental in reintroducing attention the Sherman Antitrust Act, which began the downfall of anti-competitive business monopolies and strategies, notably breaking John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company (Jarrett, Zimmer, Killoran 2015, 123).
Taft, originally endorsed by Roosevelt, ended up “alienating Progressives” (Jarrett, Zimmer, Killoran 2015, 124) and overturned some of Roosevelt’s progressive reforms (Schultz 2014, 343) due to not being politically skilled, but was able to bring down J.P. Morgan’s U.S.