The progressive era was a period of many changes, movements, and social developments. The period was characterized by multiple, loose, and conflicting objectives that blocked the efforts of influencers and reformers. These differences made politicians turn against one another, especially in the Republican Party. The arguments and disagreements were the greatest stumbling blocks during the progressive era.
National progressive leaders like Theodore Roosevelt advocated for the increase in the coordination of large businesses while others, like Woodrow Wilson, championed for open competition. The local administrators like at the municipals and state levels wanted reforms related to prisons, education, improvement of urban centers, improved working and living conditions, end of child labor, birth control, and prohibition of some laws and activities.
Significant improvements were made in social justice but the reformers did not work together to change the broader issues. Some parties like Bull Moose Party was formed to support all the Progressive supporters but Americans saw it as being one-sided and supported only Roosevelt reforms.
Racism was another stumbling block during the progressive era. The movement was for the chosen few and allowed only whites, the educated, Protestants, and the middle class to join and participate in the activities. Racism was at the center of the Progressive movement. As much as the women campaigned for the involvement of both blacks and whites in elections, the movement was against the reform and always wanted the selected few to participate in exercises that were meant to be democratic like elections. In the early 20th century, civil rights and progressive reforms were exclusive and only chosen populations were catered for and their issues and concerns addressed.
Another stumbling block during the progressive era was the court systems. The federal court struck down laws regulating child labor and lacked the resources to implement political and social reforms. Regulation of child labor and other reforms was part of the agenda of the progressive era. Therefore, having a system that did not support the changes meant that the activities of the movement were being slowed down. As a result of these challenges, the progressives failed to redistribute political power from interest groups, ruling parties, and other machines.