Are there recurring THEMES in American attempts to reform the nation?

examples of some THEMES: economic issues, moral values, political problems, corruption, civil rights

Populists ->

Progressives ->

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
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    Corruption has been the big driver each time. The Whigs were dissolved as a party because of it. The Republicans were reformers. The Civil war was primarily states rights but what brought about the issues of states rights was a mix that strongly included corruption which favored big industrial money in the NE over the West and South. Thus decisions were made by profit not by what was best for the nation. The abolutionist movement was fast gaining momentum and England was beginning to pressure the US to abandon slavery before the US Civil war. Even many in the South were taking up the Abolutionist cause. So slavery's days were numbered war or no war or even if the South won the war.

    It was States rights, which has feuled more than a couple rebellions in the US. The Civil war was the most notable. America was founded with a deep distrust of big government. Thus Socialism is deeply at odds with the core of the founding principles of the US since Socialism can't help but be big government to effectively be Socialist.

    Taxes is the other. A person's income is their freedom. Taxation infringes upon that freedom whether it be direct taxes such as income and sales tax or hidden taxes such as taxes on corporations. As such repeatedly the US has had taxpayer rebellions a few of them becoming armed conflicts such as the Revolution and the Whysky rebellion.

    Monopolies versus a free market has been the other recurring theme. It often takes many guises such as the struggle to unionize in the 20s and 30s where big biz often used mercs to attack and sometimes kill union organizers. Teddy Rooseveldt and his battle with the barons. Corporations given too much influence in the gov, usually by corruption will create horrific conditions for the common man. Each time this happens there is a backlash. Corporations themselves are neither good nor evil. It is when they run amuck because of the influence they buy that they create unendurable conditions for people.

    Today we have all those factors converging. We have the highest level of corruption the US has ever seen. The highest levels of taxation, though much of it is hidden taxes. We have monopolies that are crushing the life out of our economy. We have a federal governement that is stomping all over state's rights.

    As for Populist and progressive those terms change quite a bit in meaning. The Populist movement for example was co-opted by the Communist movement at one point and for a time the word Populist gained Socialist connotations. Teddy Rooseveldt is probably an excellent example of a Populist and the LIbertarian party is the closest to a Populist party there is today.

    Progressives in the 1800s were not after Socialism. They were people concerned with worker safety, fair wages, humane treatment of prisoners and topics like that. Again it is a term that has dramatically changed in usage. Today a "progressive" is a Socialist. Almost a Marxist. They care nothing for worker safety unless it's a union shop. They are not guarding our food safety like progressives around the turn of the century. They are unconcerned about humane treatment of prisoners unless they are Islamic terrorists.

    So the terms have no relivence.

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