Mission & History

A voice for peace, social justice, and the common good! 

Since 1909, The Progressive has aimed to amplify voices of dissent and those under-represented in the mainstream, with a goal of championing grassroots progressive politics. Our bedrock values are nonviolence and freedom of speech.

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, we publish on national politics, culture, and events including U.S. foreign policy; we also focus on issues of particular importance to the heartland. Two flagship projects of The Progressive include Public School Shakedown, which covers efforts to resist the privatization of public education, and The Progressive Media Project, aiming to diversify our nation’s op-ed pages. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 

We publish multiple stories every day on our website, and also produce a bimonthly magazine featuring investigative reporting, cultural and political analysis, and poetry. Recent issues have focused on climate change, and being “othered” in today's America.

Our story

“Fighting Bob” LaFollette championed progressive causes at the turn of the 20th century as Governor of Wisconsin and later as a U.S. senator.On January 9, 1909, Senator Robert M. La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin founded this publication to be a magazine of “progress,” aiming to document the work of those resisting corruption and working to protect representative government. With our first editor, Belle Case La Follette, a women's suffrage, peace, and civil rights activist, Fighting Bob dedicated the magazine (originally titled La Follette’s Weekly) to “winning back for the people the complete power over government —national, state, and municipal—which has been lost to them.”

The La Follettes dedicated the pages of the magazine to exposing and attacking private greed in the form of corporate monopolies that hoarded power, championing the public interest, and seeking social and economic justice. A lone advocate for peace among U.S. Senators, Bob La Follette urged the United States not to entangle itself in foreign wars.Our first editor, Belle Case La Follette. After the death of her husband in 1925, she vowed, “The magazine will go on.”

That founding mission of peace, social justice, and the common good continues to serve us well today. 

Our first editor, Belle Case La Follette. She vowed, after the death of her husband in 1925, “the magazine will go on.” And indeed it has.

The Progressive is fortunate to have had powerful writers grace its pages, including Wendell Berry, Edwidge Danticat, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, Eduardo Galeano, Luis Rodriguez, Terry Tempest Williams, and Dave Zirin. 

Some of America’s leading poets—Adrienne Rich, Martín Espada, C.K. Williams, and Rita Dove—published original work in The Progressive. People we've interviewed in the past include Howard Dean, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Janeane Garofalo, Danny Glover, Amy Goodman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Seymour Hersh, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Barack Obama, Michael Pollan, Robert Redford, Martin Sheen, Joseph Stiglitz, Helen Thomas, Alice Walker, and Elizabeth Warren.

In 2009, we celebrated our centennial with, Democracy in Print: The Best of The Progressive magazine, 1909-2009 (Univ. of Wisconsin Press), including contributions from Jane Addams, James Baldwin, Louis Brandeis, Theodore Dreiser, Sen. Russ Feingold, Molly Ivins, June Jordan, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sinclair Lewis, Milton Mayer, Arundhati Roy, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Cindy Sheehan, Upton Sinclair, Gore Vidal, Paul Wellstone, and Howard Zinn.

Need assistance?

Email: info@progressive.org. Phone: (608) 257-4626. We are located at 30 W. Mifflin Street, Suite 703. Madison, WI 53703

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Donations: (608) 257-4626

Editorial Queries: editorial@progressive.org

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Writers Guidelines

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