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Progressivism in America: Characteristics and Achievements


The progressives were dedicated individuals who came together to present evidence-based strategies and ideas to transform the lives of many American citizens. The presented discussion uses Theodore Roosevelt’s speech of 1912 to analyze the unique characteristics of a progressive. The paper identifies the attributes associated with “anti-progressives”. The achievements attributable to the wave of progressivism are also presented in this discussion.

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Characteristics of a Progressive

Progressives are people of integrity who are always ready to lead the forward movement. These are leaders who believe in their followers, promote justice, and remain righteous. They pursue what is honorable, just, and good for their people. They utilize their resources, ideas, and strengths to address the challenges others face (“Who is a progressive,” n.d.). Such individuals use their consciousness to achieve positive results while at the same remaining frank and generous. According to Roosevelt, such leaders will focus on progress for all and shelf their personal ambitions.

Characteristics of “Anti-Progressives”

People and leaders who are “anti-progressive” will tend to exhibit specific characteristics. For instance, they lack confidence in the people they lead, do not have passionate convictions, and engage in actions that are aimed at appealing to popular intelligence. They also assume leadership whenever there is a need for change (“Who is a progressive,” n.d.). Such people will go further to secure nominal rule from their followers.

According to Roosevelt, those against progressivism will engage in various inappropriate activities, including pursuing actions and ideas that serve their personal interests. They focus on efforts that can deliver their industrial and social objectives. Such people favor special interests and fail to get rid of evil motives (Woolner & Thompson, 2016). They will also remain reactionary whenever progressives present their ideas. Consequently, they end up becoming beneficiaries of inequality, injustice, and privilege.

Goals of Progressivism: Key Areas

The wave of progressivism was aimed at delivering several benefits or goals to the people. The major objectives included improving educational attainment, transforming working conditions, encouraging employees to join unions, and promoting female suffrage. Such gains would ensure that many American citizens pursued their goals. Other key areas taken seriously included the problems of industrialization, increased levels of child labor, and urbanization (Woolner & Thompson, 2016). The key areas of society that progressivism should address include gender equality, unemployment, and disparity in criminal justice, health, and education systems. Such issues can transform the lives of the greatest number of citizens.

Progressive Achievements

In his speech, Roosevelt highlights a number of progressive achievements. The first one is the need to transform the judiciary and ensure that it interprets the Constitution efficiently. This initiative can ensure that it meets all people’s needs. The second aspect is the desire to change the country’s political system. The issue of urbanization is also evident whereby Roosevelt proposes better-living conditions for individuals in different cities (“Who is a progressive,” n.d.). The problem of child labor does not escape his attention. The empowerment of women is another key issue Roosevelt identifies in his speech. These achievements can empower many people and make it easier for them to achieve their potential.


The above discussion has indicated that Roosevelt was a successful progressive leader whose ambitions and actions transformed America for the better. He encouraged his opponents and fellow politicians to focus on the most appropriate ideas that could serve all people. Such ideas are meaningful since leaders who embrace them today will transform the experiences of their followers.

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Woolner, D. B., & Thompson, J. M. (Eds.). (2016). Progressivism in America: Past, present and future. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Who is a progressive? (n.d.). 

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