Many progressives are sad that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will not be the eventual Democratic nominee for the Presidency. I know I am still heart broken that Warren wasn’t able to get more votes and had to drop out. But I still think Warren and Sanders have played a positive role in highlighting progressive arguments to the general public and pushing the political discourse further to the Left. I think an instructive lesson for how progressive political campaigns can have a positive influence on the nation even if the candidate loses is Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 presidential run on the Progressive Party platform.
At that time, the Republican Party had a sizable portion of progressive Republicans who supported government regulation of big businesses, protection of the environment and the protection of minority rights. When Teddy Roosevelt and other progressive Republicans saw that Republican President William Howard Taft was siding more with big business Republican interests, Roosevelt decided to form a Progressive Party (nicknamed the Bullmoose Party) and run as their candidate for President in 1912. He chose as his Vice Presidential nominee Hiram Johnson, the progressive Republican governor of California who had a record of successfully implementing social reforms.
The Progressive Party platform of the party called for major reforms including women’s suffrage, social welfare assistance for women and children, farm relief, revisions in banking, universal health insurance, and worker’s compensation. Though Teddy Roosevelt lost the 1912 elections to Woodrow Wilson, the ideas of the Progressive Party would influence later progressives and many of those ideas were later implemented in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s.
Here is a video of Teddy Roosevelt’s later years and his 1912 run for the Presidency under the Progressive Party.
Here is also the platform of Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party of 1912:
Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions
Registration of lobbyists
Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings
In the social sphere, the platform called for:
A national health service to include all existing government medical agencies
Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled
Limiting the ability of judges to order injunctions to limit labor strikes
A minimum wage law for women
An eight-hour workday
A federal securities commission
Workers’ compensation for work-related injuries
An inheritance tax
The political reforms proposed included:
Direct election of senators
Primary elections for state and federal nominations
Easier amending of the United States Constitution
The platform also urged states to adopt measures for “direct democracy”, including:
The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)
The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)
The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)
Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote)
Besides these measures, the platform called for reductions in the tariff and limitations on naval armaments by international agreement.