Parties Reformed Not everyone benefited from political machines. There were some problems that machines either could not or would not deal with. Industrialization and the rise of corporate giants created great disparities in wealth. Dangerous working conditions existed in urban factories and rural coal mines. Farmers faced falling prices for their products. Reformers blamed these conditions on party corruption and inefficiency. They alleged that party bosses were diverting funds that should be used to improve social conditions into their own pockets and keeping their incompetent friends in positions of power. The Progressive Era
Saylor URL: Saylor.org 364 The mugwumps, reformers who declared their independence from political parties, banded together in the 1880s and provided the foundation for theProgressive Movement. The Progressives initiated reforms that lessened the parties’ hold over the electoral system. Voters had been required to cast color - coded ballots provided by the parties, which meant that their vote choice was not confidential. The Progressives succeeded by 1896 in having most states implement the secret ballot. The secret ballot is issued by the state and lists all parties and candidates. This system allows people to split their ticket when voting rather than requiring them to vote the party line. The Progres sives also hoped to lessen machines’ control over the candidate selection process. They advocated a system of direct primary elections in which the public could participate rather than caucuses, or meetings of party elites. The direct primary had been instituted in only a small number of states, such as Wisconsin, by the early years of the twentieth century. The widespread use of direct primaries to select presidential candidates did not occur until the 1970s. The Progressives sought to end party machine dominance by eliminating the patronage system. Instead, employment would be awarded on the basis of qualifications rather than party loyalty. The merit system, now called thecivil service, was instituted in 1883 with the passage of the Pendleton Act. The merit system wounded political machines, although it did not eliminate them.  Progressive reformers ran for president under party labels. Former president Theodore Roosevelt split from the Republicans and ran as the Bull Moose Party candidate in 1912, and Robert LaFollette ran as the Progressive Party candidate in 1924. Republican William Howard Taft defeated Roosevelt, and LaFollette lost to Republican Calvin Coolidge. Figure 10.4 Progressive Reformers Political Cartoon
Saylor URL: Saylor.org 365 The Progressive Reformers’ goal of more open and representative parties resonate today. Source: Photo courtesy of E W Kemble, on,_1912_copy.jpg .