Where I agree with Doris Kearns Goodwin and her book about Theodore Roosevelt, is that Teddy Roosevelt was a much better political leader as President of the United States, than when he left the White House and decided to run for President again in 1912. I would disagree with Doris Goodwin that Teddy was a Centrist as President. As President he was an actual Progressive who not only believed in progress, but believed in using government to help create that progress. But he wasn’t a Socialist and instead put limits to what government should try to do for the people.
But once TR left the White House he moved further left and became more ideological, more idealistic, and more romantic. And started advocating for things that simply were never going to happen. Like making it easier to amend the U.S. Constitution so it kept up with the times. As a lot of Social Democrats in America advocate for instead of guaranteeing a basic set of fundamental constitutional rights that make it almost impossible for us to lose. Socialists would want the majority to rule at all times.
What makes progressivism at its best and makes it work well when its practiced in its classical form, instead of people who are much further left and more ideological and prefer to be called Progressives because of the social popularity of that term, or don’t want to be labeled as lets say Socialists and even Democratic Socialists, because of the negative stereotypes of those terms, is what progressivism effective is the pragmatism of it and that Progressives believe in the United States, our Constitution, and form of government. Progressives aren’t interested in breaking up our form of government and governmental system. They don’t believe individual freedom and individualism, are dangerous selfish things, but that instead they want to use government to expand individual freedom so more people can benefit from those things. Not just the wealthy and people born to wealth.
I and Doris Goodwin, believe that Teddy Roosevelt moved away from those progressive pragmatic mainstream principles of his time as President from 1901-09 and by the time he decided to run for President again in 1912 and was no longer in the White House, he became more of a left-wing social democratic activist. That perhaps would have been comfortable running as part of the Socialist Party with Eugene Debbs back in 1912. What made both Roosevelt’s (TR & FDR) great President’s, was their knowledge, intelligence, progressive values, but also their pragmatism. And didn’t say that government had to do this or that, but instead looked for the best solution to all problems. Whether that meant expanding government or not.