The Progressives

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Many people have often wondered how politicians would organize legislative activity if given the chance to start anew and make things the way they want them. The Progressive takeover of governmental activities in California in 1910 presented a unique opportunity to study such a phenomenon in its natural occurring state. The Progressives made it as hard as they could to crush the party system and to keep it from returning. In particular, “they made it nearly impossible for party activists outside government to organize, coordinate actions, keep informed about legislative activities, or, perhaps most importantly, influence party nominations to office.” (Masket 2011, 54) It was under these conditions that Masket says California politicians…show more content…
One of these entities was ruled by Abraham Ruef, also known as Boss Ruef who mainly ruled on the local level in San Francisco. The other, even larger organization was the statewide Southern Pacific Railroad. The purpose of this party was simple, protect the interest of the railroad. This system was very unpopular, but state law at the time required that candidates had to be elected through the party system. This easily corruptible system of electing officials continued until 1910 when Progressives won enough seats to take a majority lead in the legislature after surging forward the last several years. Not only did the Progressives win the legislature, they also won the Gubernatorial election with Hiram Johnson’s victory. In order to fight the corruption of convention system, the Progressives enacted the policies and procedures of the direct primary system. The “sharpest blow to parties was a procedure called cross-filing.” (Masket 2011,…show more content…
Without the power to choose nominees the Bosses of the time were unable to influence who would run for political office. Though this may have been effective in shutting down the corrupt local and railroad bosses, the practice of cross-filling made it possible to take advantage of the system in an entirely new way. From 1914 to 1952, California politicians were able to cross-file in the primary elections. This in turn kept politicians untethered from party politics and free to broker deals with whomever they wanted without having to please party leadership. This lead to a lot of insider back-scratching disguising itself as bipartisanship behavior. This way of business would last until 1952 when the Abolish Cross-Filing movement. At this time, the party of each candidate was required to be beside their name on election ballots. This move would let people know more about the candidate and actually help to establish party government in the state of California for decades to
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