John Chamberlin

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Progressivism refers to a political effort that aims at forming a government that addresses the needs of the ordinary man. Progressivism seeks to push for a democratic government that hears and implements the people’s requests. The progressive movements started in the early 20th century with the onset of industrialization. At this time, there was a lot of inequality in the way people co-exited with one another. The era witnessed harsh treatment of slaves. In addition, during this period, the elite socialite made policies that suited their plans to amass more wealth. The idea of progressivism in the early 20th century was to ensure fair treatment of the settlement workers, better working environments for women and abolition of child labor. In 1932, John Chamberlin published an early history of the progressive movement Farewell to Reform. He described what he saw as the contradictory mind of the progressive as follows, “To “DO GOOD” and to preserve the status quo: to make the lion and the lamb the Garys and Gomperses…lie down together—such, in brief, was the hope of more than one Progressive…”

Chamberlin's quote was very justified. As the progressive movements became stronger in its call for an equitable nation, the administrators in different countries started to embrace progressivism. They were supposed to reform their governance in a way that it advocated for political, social, and economic changes that would favor everyone. The wave of industrialization overwhelmed the whole world at that time. In this consideration, progressivism was extremely vital. However, this was not the case as stated by Chamberlain. The progressive parties formed at the time to steer ahead these changes did not achieve any significant advancement. Instead, the administrators chose to stick with their own prejudice ways for governance.

As Chamberlain stated, in their quest to enhance progressivism, the administrators were torn between doing good and retaining the status quo. To implement progressivism meant to “do well” as this sought to improve the welfare of the common person. Progressivism was supposed to state clearly the role of the common person in paying taxes as a consumer, parent, employee, and citizen. On the other hand, the status quo was the wealthy elite who owned large tracks of land and huge businesses. They formed a large part of the administrators, and therefore they could not see through to this important change, as it would empower the minority.

 A proof of this aspect was the lack of a single progressive party, which formed any of the governments in the states that claimed to be embracing progressivism. The wealthy elites had a lot of influence in the governance of the states at the birth of progressivism. Even now, they still possess that influence. With this influence, all they could do was to promote their own selfish interests at the expense of the ordinary man. The desire for wealth led to further exploitation of the ordinary man.

Therefore, no government has supported progressivism as it is supposed during the past years. The media, for example, are the main voice of the ordinary man to the government. The wealthy elite own the media houses, and thus decide what to consider and what to ignore. Several countries have attempted to establish policies meant to promote progressivism, but the efforts have proofed futile. Some of these policies have been forming coalition governments, but still the progressive parties form the minority group and hence little or no voice on behalf of the common person. Other countries have changed their constitutions to allow for multi-party elections eliminating hierarchical governance by dynasties.  

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