The American Progressive Movement Part 3

What every Conservative needs to Know            

 The Third Progressive Movement [1947]

The Progressive movement was stifled during the Truman era and most Progressives strongly disagreed with Truman’s Cold War policies. The Progressives were spurred into action once again not only because of Truman’s policies but also with the apparent loss of power and influence they had suffered after the death of their standard bearer Roosevelt. Seeking to regain the power of the Presidency again the Progressive Party nominated former Vice President Henry A Wallace as their Presidential candidate with the Democratic U.S. Senator from Idaho Glen H. Taylor in the 1948 election. Both men were dedicated Leftists’ and Progressives but their views were not shared by the American voting public or the Democratic Party as being too radical. The Wallace platform was against the Marshal Plan and the Truman Doctrine. The Progressives also renewed their condemnation of big business while also campaigning against Racial Discrimination and for Women’s Rights and the establishment of a national minimum wage. They called for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act that was passed to monitor the power and activities of the labor unions. They also called for the complete elimination of the House Un-American Activities Committee that was investigation Communist spies working within the U.S. Government and the labor unions. The Progressives came under close scrutiny after the Communist Party endorsed the Wallace/Taylor ticket. The election proved to be a complete disaster for the Progressive ticket with then not winning a single state and ending up with a mere 2.4 % of the vote. That election spelled the end of their quest for power for the time being but they were busy making plans for their next chance to move their agenda forward.

The next President of the United States was Dwight David Eisenhower 1953-1961 and although Eisenhower was not a Progressive some of his accomplishments fit very nicely into the Progressive agenda. For instance he continued the policies of the New Deal and Social Security. He expanded SS programs and put them under the control of a new agency he created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He also extended benefits to an additional ten million workers. Whether it was his experiences as Supreme Allied Commander or his time as President, Eisenhower developed a mistrust of America’s military strength and warned about the growing American Military-Industrial Complex in his farewell speech. “Another description of the AMIC is this.” The Progressives would use this speech to further argue against the American Military then as they do now.

With the assignation of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as President on November 22, 1963. Johnson was the new hope for the Progressives and their agenda and proved to be all they could have hoped for. Johnson promoted the Great Society initiative with the help of his fellow Democrats in Congress. It was similar to Roosevelt’s New Deal but differed in its end goals. This was the time of the Vietnam War, and while attention was focused on that, Johnson along with his Democratic allies were able to get many Liberal and Progressive pieces of legislation passed. In Johnsons first two years he was able to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965. These acts easily passed riding the wave of civil right demonstration and riots. Poverty was next on their agenda and new legislation was introduced and passed including the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, VISTA Volunteers in Service to America, was a type of domestic Peace Corps. There was also the Food Stamp Act of 1964 and the Community Action Program along with Project Head Start. The entire Progressive agenda seemed to be playing itself out under the guise of Liberal programs. Education was also part of the plethora of actions taken one after the other. There was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Bilingual Act of 1968. The Social Security Act of 1965 established Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for Welfare recipients.

The sheer number of programs makes it to lengthy to list all of them at this time; further reading about The Great Society can be done here.

As previously stated President Johnson was a very unexpected surprise for the Progressives, he along with the Liberal Democrats were able to pass significant legislation that paired up very nicely with the Progressive agenda.

In Part 4 we will bring things from President Johnson to the present and show the now active Progressives both in and outside of government.

Part 1 <—————————————->Part 2

Posted on June 10, 2012 by topshot

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