After loosing his wife and mother on the same day, Teddy bought a ranch in the Dakota territory. He spent his days chasing cattle and maintaining his land. When the opportunity presented itself, he would leave on hunting excursions. Eventually he wrote a book about his hunting expeditions. Does this sound like a great progressive hero to you?
One Reason Teddy was such an effective reformer was that he connected deeply with diverse groups of people. Over the course of his life, he wrote more than 40 books on topic as wide ranging as botany and the war of 1812. Hunters, Ranchers, fisherman, scientists, journalists and capitalists all respected he because, in some way they saw him as one of their own. He knew history and lived a life that both gentlemen and frontiersman could understand. Oh yeah, he was a war hero too.
When Teddy tried to diminish the power of railroads and other trusts, all of these groups felt connected to the president and supported him. When he moved to preserve more land than any of his predecessors had, he used his relationships with the media to help build support. When it became clear that consumer protections like meat inspections were needed, he was able to use his bully pulpit to reach a wide audience.
Today we need reforms as much as they were needed at the beginning of the 19th century. Hard work is not enough for many people to become successful. Politicians spend up to 60% of their time raising money for reelection. Powerful interests block important legislation. Google and Facebook collect creepy amounts of data on us.
What we need today, is a reformer with not only solid ideas, but leadership skills and the ability to identify with most Americans. Maybe this person could be a hunter and a botanist, but they need good ideas like:
- election reform; we need to end the 2 party monopoly by changing how we elect leaders (proportional representation and ranked choice voting)
- Campaign finance reform; legislators should not be swayed by powerful interests that give them money. Public financing in the form of Democracy dollars could be a good proposal.
- Lobby reform; lobbyists should have less power. The anti corruption act could be a good start.