Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy

Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy

by Sidney M. Milkis
     
 

ISBN-10: 0700616675

ISBN-13: 9780700616671

Pub. Date: 08/14/2009

Publisher: University Press of Kansas


Led by Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party made the 1912 campaign a passionate contest for the soul of the American people. Promoting an ambitious program of economic, social, and political reform-"New Nationalism"-that posed profound challenges to constitutional government, TR and his Progressive supporters provoked an extraordinary debate about the future

Overview


Led by Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party made the 1912 campaign a passionate contest for the soul of the American people. Promoting an ambitious program of economic, social, and political reform-"New Nationalism"-that posed profound challenges to constitutional government, TR and his Progressive supporters provoked an extraordinary debate about the future of the country. Sidney Milkis revisits this emotionally charged contest to show how a party seemingly consumed by its leader's ambition dominated the election and left an enduring legacy that set in motion the rise of mass democracy and the expansion of national administrative power. Milkis depicts the Progressive Party as a collective enterprise of activists, spearheaded by TR, who pursued a program of reform dedicated to direct democracy and social justice and a balance between rights and civic duty. These reformers hoped to create a new concept of citizenship that would fulfill the lofty aspirations of "we the people" in a quest for a "more perfect union"-a quest hampered by fierce infighting over civil rights and antitrust policy. Milkis shows that the Progressive campaign aroused not just an important debate over reforms but also a battle for the very meaning of Progressivism. He describes how Roosevelt gave focus to the party with his dedication to "pure democracy"-even shoehorning judicial recall into his professed "true conservative" stance. Although this pledge to make the American people "masters of their Constitution" provoked considerable controversy, Milkis contends that the Progressives were not all that far removed from the more nationally minded of the Founders. As Milkis reveals, the party's faith in a more plebiscitary form of democracy would ultimately rob it of the very organization it needed in order to survive after Roosevelt. Yet the Progressive Party's program of social reform and "direct democracy" has reverberated through American politics-especially in 2008, with Barack Obama appealing to similar instincts. By probing the deep historical roots of contemporary developments in American politics, his book shows that Progressivism continues to shape American politics a century later.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700616671
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
08/14/2009
Series:
American Political Thought Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
378
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Preface

1. The Critical Year of 1912

2. Roosevelt, Progressive Democracy, and the Progressive Movement

3. The First Primary Campaign: Candidate-Centered Politics and the Battle for the 1912 Republican Presidential Nomination

4. "Enthroned on the Seat of Righteousness": The Creation of the National Progressive Party of 1912

5. "The Constitution Is a Living Thing": The Great Campaign of 1912

6. Back to the Future: The Progressive Party's Legacy for American Politics

Notes

Index

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