May 16, 2012
The Progressive Creed, 1912. From Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site.
As the presidential election of 2012 heads into the party conventions where the party platforms will be developed, it is interesting to look back at the development of the Progressive, or Bull Moose, Party of 1912. It was a party formed out of disenchantment with the lack of progressivism in both the Republican and Democratic parties of the time. Theodore Roosevelt, shut out of the Republican nomination by William Taft’s supporters, was asked to participate in a Progressive Party convention (you may see the proceedings of that convention here). It was during that convention in Chicago, held in August 1912, that Roosevelt was selected as the Progressive Party presidential candidate.
A political party’s platform basically explains what a party will stand for after elected – what actions they will or will not take if elected, what bills they will support, and how they will vote on proposed bills. A platform includes all the campaign promises a candidate makes in order to woo a voter to support him in the election. The platform can be very long, complicated and detailed. So, a political party will often simplify its platform, or only focus on a handful of tenets, to make sure the message they present to the voter is as uncomplicated as possible.
This copy of the Progressive Creed, a distilled form of the Progressive Party platform, is a postcard, designed to be easily shared, handed out, and mailed during the campaign to get the word out about what the Progressive Party stood for in the 1912 election. I wonder if political parties could get their platforms down to just six points these days!