The Progressive Movement began as a social movement and soon grew into a large political movement. The people that were a part of the Progressive Movement rejected the ideas of Social Darwinism, the theory that people are subject to the Darwinian law of natural selection. Social Darwinism was used to justify racism, sexism, imperialism, and was even used to discourage reform. The Progressive Movement combated this belief, stating that poverty, racism, and classism could all be addressed through better education and an efficient workplace, rather than just accepting it as natural selection. The Progressive movement focused on better working conditions, exposing corporate greed, and urging people to register to vote.
The Progressive Movement was attempting to eliminate problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, and corruption in the government by fighting for regulations. By regulating big businesses and certain parts of the government, the progressives were hoping to achieve pure democracy, where the people decide on political initiatives directly. Many progressives also supported prohibition, some for religious reasons and some to destroy the power that saloons and bars had at the time.
The progressives wanted to reform the government to eliminate the corruption, inefficiency, and injustices that were seen during the Gilded Age. This movement was able to create the sixteenth amendment (income tax), seventeenth amendment (direct election of Senators), eighteenth amendment (election reforms), and nineteenth amendment ( women’s suffrage).
The government should institute work laws to keep workers safe and ensure that they are productive in their jobs. The Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage to employees who are not otherwise exempt. It restricts the hours that children under the age of 16 and forbids the employment of children in jobs that are deemed dangerous. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970) requires the workplace to be free of serious hazards and enforces inspections of workplaces to ensure that they are safe. By enacting these laws to protect workers, jobs are able to be accomplished in a safe and effective manner, pleasing the employer and employees.