Monday, June 05, 2006

Progressive Politics and Fighting Bob

Robert La Follette developed his fierce opposition to corporate power and political corruption as a young man. Affiliated with the Republican Party for almost his entire career, La Follette embarked on a political path that would take him to Congress, the governorship of Wisconsin, and the U.S. Senate. His support for progressive reforms, rousing oratory, and frequent clashes with party leaders earned him the nickname “Fighting Bob.”
For nearly ten years, La Follette traveled around the state speaking out against the influence of crooked politicians and the powerful lumber barons and railroad interests that dominated his own party. Elected governor in 1900, La Follette pledged to institute his own form of political reform. onage politics. La Follette worked closely with professors from the University of Wisconsin to help the state become “a laboratory of democracy.” By the time he joined the U.S. Senate in 1906, La Follette had become a national figure.

"The fundamental principle of a republic is individual responsibility. The responsibility is personal at the point in our political system where the citizen come in direct contact with the system itself. This is the intial point of all legislation, all administration. In all the activities preliminary to the primary, and in the primary itself, the citizen is an elementary force in government. Here the voter can lay his hand directly upon the shoulder of the public servant and point the way he should go."

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