10/20/2014 03:03 pm ET Updated Dec 20, 2014

The Latest in Progressive Ideas at Election Time

Note to fellow citizens: I found these interesting suggestions lying around -- what do you think?


The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, should call into being a new party, born of the Nation's awakened sense of justice, dedicated to maintain government of the people, by the people and for the people. In accordance with the needs of each generation the people must use their sovereign powers to establish and maintain equal opportunity and industrial justice, to secure which democratic government was founded and without which no republic can endure.

This country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Its resources, its business, its institutions and its laws should be utilized, maintained or altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest. It is time to set the public welfare in the first place.

On the Old Parties

Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.

To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.

The deliberate betrayal of its trust by the Republican Party, and the fatal incapacity of the Democratic Party to deal with the new issues of the new time, should compel the people to forge a new instrument of government through which to give effect to their will in laws and institutions to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler commonwealth.

The Rule of the People

The Progressive Party, committed to the principle of government by a self-controlled democracy expressing its will through representatives of the people, pledges itself to secure such alterations in the fundamental law of the several States and of the United States as shall insure the representative character of the Government. Believing that a free people should have the power from time to time to amend their fundamental law so as to adapt it progressively to the changing needs of the people, we pledge ourselves to provide a more easy and expeditious method of amending the Federal Constitution.

Nation and State

Up to the limit of the Constitution, and later by amendment of the Constitution, if found necessary, we advocate bringing under effective national jurisdiction those problems which have expanded beyond reach of the individual states, since it is as grotesque as it is intolerable that the several States should by unequal laws in matter of common concern become competing commercial agencies, barter the lives of their children, the health of their women and the safety and well-being of their working people for the profit of their financial interests.

The extreme insistence on States' rights demonstrates anew an inability to understand the world today.

Social and Economic Strength

The supreme duty of the Nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and economic justice. We must work for:

Effective legislation looking to the prevention of industrial accidents, occupational diseases, overwork, involuntary unemployment, and other injurious effects incident to modern industry;

The fixing and maintenance of minimum safety and health standards;

Minimum wage standards for working people that provide a living scale in all occupations;

The abolition of private prisons;

Heightened public scrutiny of working conditions;

Transfer the risk of accidents from the families of working people to industry, and thus to the community;

The development of the creative labor power of America by improved public education;

The expansion of subsidies for research to put science at the service of America.

We favor the organization of the workers, men and women as a means of protecting their interests and of promoting their progress.


We believe that true popular government, justice and prosperity go hand in hand, and so believing, it is our purpose to secure that large measure of general prosperity which is the fruit of legitimate and honest business, fostered by equal justice and by sound progressive laws.

We demand that the test of true prosperity shall be the benefits conferred thereby on all the citizens not confined to individuals or classes and that the test of corporate efficiency shall be the ability better to serve the public; that those who profit by control of business affairs shall justify that profit and that control by sharing with the public the fruits thereof.

We therefore demand stronger National regulation of corporations. The corporation is an essential part of modern business. The concentration of modern business, in some degree, is both inevitable and necessary for National and international business efficiency. But the existing concentration of vast wealth under a corporate system, unguarded and uncontrolled by the Nation, has placed in the hands of a few men enormous, secret, irresponsible power over the daily life of the citizen--a power insufferable in a free government and certain of abuse.

This power has been abused. We do not fear commercial power, but we insist that it shall be exercised openly, under heightened publicity, supervision and regulation of the most efficient sort.


The natural resources of the Nation must be promptly developed and generously used to supply the people's needs, but we cannot safely allow them to be wasted, exploited, monopolized or controlled against the general good. We heartily favor the policy of conservation, and we pledge our party to protect the environment without hindering its legitimate use for the benefit of all the people.

We believe that natural resources are more likely to be wisely conserved and utilized for the general welfare if held in the public hands. We would require reasonable compensation to the public for all rights hereafter granted by the public.

Corrupt Practices

We pledge our party to legislation that will compel strict limitation on all campaign contributions and expenditures, and detailed publicity of both before as well as after primaries and elections.


We pledge ourselves to the enactment of a patent law which will make it impossible for patents -- such as medical patents -- to be suppressed or used against the public welfare in the interests of injurious monopolies.

Peace and National Defense

A Progressive Party must deplore the survival in our civilization of the barbaric system of warfare among nations with its enormous waste of resources even in time of peace, and the consequent impoverishment of the life of the toiling masses. We pledge the party to use its best endeavors to substitutes judicial an other peaceful means of settling international differences.

The Immigrant

Through the establishment of standards in the economy we propose to secure to the able-bodied immigrant and to his native fellow workers a larger share of American opportunity.

We denounce the fatal policy of indifference and neglect which has left our enormous immigrant population to become the prey of chance and cupidity.

Government Business Organization

We pledge our party to readjustment of the business methods of the National Government and a proper co-ordination of the Federal bureaus, which will increase the economy and efficiency of the Government service, prevent duplications and secret better results to the taxpayers for every dollar expended.

Government Supervision Over Investment

The people of the United States are swindled out of many billions of dollars every year, through worthless investments. The plain people, the wage-earner and the men and women with small savings, have no way of knowing the merit of concerns sending out highly colored prospectuses offering stock for sale, prospectuses that make big returns seem certain and fortunes easily within grasp.

We hold it to be the duty of the Government to protect its people form this kind of piracy. We, therefore, demand wise carefully-thought-out legislation that will give us such Governmental supervision over this matter as will furnish to the people of the United States this much-needed protection, and we pledge ourselves thereto.

[By the way, what you have just read is a somewhat condensed version of the official Platform of the American Progressive Party prepared for the election of 1912. Yes, that's 1912. We have been talking about this for one hundred years. Now what do you think about that?]