Power and Principle: Armed Intervention in Wilsonian Foreign Policy

By Frederick S. Calhoun | Go to book overview

3.
THE POWER of IDEOLOGY: Santo Domingo and Haiti

The Progressive movement exalted the rights of the common man. Domestic reforms of the period shared the general goal of freeing various segments of American society from the oppressive power of the privileged few who, by wit and wile, controlled the nation's business, industrial, and political sectors for their own selfish purposes. Progressives sought to allow the small businessman to compete equally without fear of giant trusts and monopolies. They also wanted to return to the people their right to govern themselves without interference from political machines, bosses, or corrupt politicians. Each of the reforms of the era expressed to some degree a common desire to reinvest democratic ideals of equal opportunity and fairness into the newly industrialized society.

Progressives enlisted eagerly in the cause of democratic service. They envisioned themselves as selfless individuals united in battle against a selfish minority of the powerful. Abjuring personal ambition or gain, the Progressives wanted only to help all people share in the benefits accruing from industrialization. The battle was joined against those who, with their enormous wealth and consequent power, represented the antithesis of democracy. The weapons consisted of publicity and the strength of the government. Through newspapers, magazines, and books, the Progressives exposed the abuses committed by the privileged. This exposure galvanized the people to seek justice through legislation and governmental changes. An enlightened populace demanded recovery of its lost influence and power. Thus, the Progressives responded to the changes incurred in industrialization by emphasizing democracy. They wanted each voice to equal every other, and every

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