Guest Essayist: James Legee, Graduate, Master of Arts in Political Science at Villanova University, Graduate Fellow at the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the study of Free Institutions and the Public Good

Theodore Roosevelt left the office of the President in 1908, only to be drawn back into politics in 1912, disappointed with his predecessor’s defense of the Progressive cause.  He launched the “Bull Moose” Party with the zeal befitting a man who was photographed actually riding a bull moose.  Roosevelt pursued an agenda in 1912 that called for increasing popular participation in government and eroding the barriers between the people and government.  This is also an intentional blurring of the line between a republican form of government and a direct democracy of the kind that existed in antiquity. Read more

Roosevelt relinquished the presidency in 1908, believing that his Progressive legacy lay safely in the hands of his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft. Although Taft expanded many of Roosevelt’s policies and succeeded in passing through Congress the Sixteenth Amendment, permitting a national income tax, Roosevelt challenged Taft in the 1912 Republican primary. Losing the nomination, he announced an independent candidacy under the banner of the Progressive or “Bull Moose” Party. In this campaign speech, he urges more direct power to the people through recall elections, referenda and initiatives, and direct primaries.

March 20, 1912

The great fundamental issue now before the Republican party and before our people can be stated briefly. It is, Are the American people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? I believe they are. My opponents do not. Read more