Progressives use laws and regulations as a means of narrowing the social space in which individuals and groups make choices. The objective is moral in nature and Progressives take freedom, of a certain sort, very seriously. The highest liberty is to do what is right and good and therefore they believe that an extensive, detailed, objective, and rational, legal (and regulatory) system is a necessary component in nudging people to their freedom. Working in tandem with a national media that presents a vision of a redeemed community, and a progressive educational system in which children internalize the moral vision of the national community (a subject I explored here), a comprehensive legal structure guides, shapes, and reminds citizens about virtuous living.
Much about the Progressive version of moralized politics is deeply American.