America is due a strong president, if recent history holds true

The American public has tended to elect strong American Presidents - those concerned a bit more with preserving the Constitution and freedom than the ones advancing their own agendas. Photo: www.dailycaller.com

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2012 – The American form of government – technically a constitutional federal-republic - is irksome to leaders with a penchant for grandiose, self-aggrandizing thoughts about their role and what’s best for the country. That is just what the founding fathers intended to create – a government with enough power to manage a diverse and growing society yet bound down by checks and balances, ruled by laws not men, so that the people could retain their natural right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The American public has tended to elect strong American Presidents - those concerned a bit more with preserving the Constitution and freedom than advancing their own agendas - in the wake of electing those who saw themselves as wiser than most and the Republic as just a bit too boring and staid for their grand visions.

Unfortunately, Barak Obama is in the top tier of American Presidents since 1900 that talk a big game and preside over progressive policies, many of which fly in the face of American values and the Constitution. Simply put, progressives think government and the elites who run it believe they are better at making decisions than the people. They think bigger is always better when it comes to bureaucracy and the scope of government.

Contrast and comparison of a few 20th century presidents

The White House presidential biographies provide an easy contrast and comparison of past presidents and the ebb and flow of the tides always at work on the American experiment.

Theodore Roosevelt (1901 – 1909) brought “new excitement and power to the Presidency, as he vigorously led Congress and the American public toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy.”

“He took the view that the President as a “steward of the people” should take whatever action necessary for the public good unless expressly forbidden by law or the Constitution.”I did not usurp power,” he wrote, “but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power.””

Roosevelt believed Government should arbitrate between capital and labor. He forced the Northwest railroad combination to dissolve and other “trust busting” endeavors through the Sherman Antitrust Act.

He placed thousands of acres into federal hands and paved the way for presidents after him to do the same. In 1905, he formed the U.S. Forestry Service, which grew from 43-million acres to approximately 191-million acres under his guidance. He established the legislation that would form national park units and national monuments, creating five parks and 18 national monuments himself.

According to the National Park Service website, “The Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906 had an even broader effect. Although the Act did not create a single park, it allowed Roosevelt and his successors to proclaim “historic landmarks, historic or prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” in federal ownership as national monuments.

The distinguished jurist, effective administrator, but poor politician, William Howard Taft (1909 – 1913) followed T.R. and “was caught in the intense battles between Progressives and Conservatives, and got scant credit for the achievements of his administration.”

“Unlike Roosevelt, Taft did not believe in the stretching of Presidential powers. He once commented that Roosevelt “ought more often to have admitted the legal way of reaching the same ends.”

Unfortunately, Taft actually implemented or paved the way for a number of Roosevelt’s progressive policies, but went through the methodical, legal processes, including 80 antitrust suits, amendments for a Federal income tax and the direct election of Senators.

However, when Republicans nominated Taft for a second term, Roosevelt left the party to form the Progressive “Bull Moose” party thus ensuring Woodrow Wilson’s (1913 – 1921) election.

“In 1917 he proclaimed American entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world “safe for democracy.”

“He developed a program of progressive reform and asserted international leadership in building a new world order. “

While he “campaigned on a program called the New Freedom, which stressed individualism and states’ rights,” he ushered the Underwood Act through Congress, which contained the Federal income tax along with the Federal Reserve Act and established a Federal Trade Commission “to prohibit unfair business practices.”

In 1916, he created legislation that prohibited child labor. Another act limited railroad workers to an eight-hour day. These positive efforts and the promise of keeping America out of World War I helped him win re-election.

He asked Congress on April 2, 1917 for a declaration of war on Germany. By the Armistice of 1918, Wilson had gone to Paris to mastermind the Versailles Treaty, which contained the League of Nations concept, and proclaimed, “Dare we reject it and break the heart of the world?” The Senate did reject it.

Warren G. Harding (1921 -1923) would follow with this declaration: “America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality….”

Republicans in Congress easily got the President’s signature on their bills. They eliminated wartime controls and slashed taxes, established a Federal budget system, restored the high protective tariff, and imposed tight limitations upon immigration.

By 1923 the postwar depression seemed to be giving way to a new surge of prosperity, and newspapers hailed Harding as a wise statesman carrying out his campaign promise—”Less government in business and more business in government.”

Jumping ahead to 1969, Richard Nixon (1969 – 1974) comes in with goals for reconciliation. He ended fighting in Viet Nam and improved relations with the U.S.S.R and China. “But the Watergate scandal brought fresh divisions to the country and ultimately led to his resignation.”

“His accomplishments while in office included revenue sharing, the end of the draft, new anticrime laws, and a broad environmental program. As he had promised, he appointed Justices of conservative philosophy to the Supreme Court. One of the most dramatic events of his first term occurred in 1969, when American astronauts made the first moon landing.”

James Carter (1977 – 1981) “aspired to make Government “competent and compassionate.” His achievements were notable, but in an era of rising energy costs, mounting inflation, and continuing tensions, it was impossible for his administration to meet these high expectations.”

Carter, like most presidents, had good moments such as the 1978 Camp David agreement, record appointments of women, blacks and Hispanics to Government jobs, ratification of the Panama Canal treaty, and negotiation of SALT II nuclear limitation treaty with the Soviet Union.

Yet, overall his presidency is one most Americans remember with dread –inflation; record high interest rates; gas lines; deregulation of trucking and airline industries; 103 million acres of Alaska converted to National Park; creation of the Department of Education; Iran hostage affair that kept 52 Americans captive for 14 months.

Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1989) presided over the Reagan Revolution and fulfilled his 1980 campaign pledge of restoring “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.”

Dealing skillfully with Congress, Reagan obtained legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment, and strengthen national defense. He embarked upon a course of cutting taxes and government expenditures, refusing to deviate from it when the strengthening of defense forces led to a large deficit.

In 1986 Reagan obtained an overhaul of the income tax code, which eliminated many deductions and exempted millions of people with low incomes. At the end of his administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.

In foreign policy, Reagan sought to achieve “peace through strength.” During his two terms, he increased defense spending 35 percent, but sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union. In dramatic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Reagan declared war against international terrorism, sending American bombers against Libya after evidence came out that Libya was involved in an attack on American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub.

Overall, the Reagan years saw a restoration of prosperity, and the goal of peace through strength seemed to be within grasp.

America needs a leader to unite us around a belief in American exceptionalism. As reported by the Washington Times following the State of the Union, Gov. Mitch Daniels said, “No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others.”

Obama’s vision is to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and impose stricter regulations on all forms of business, including health care. None of that inspires Americans nor does it lead to prosperity.

Carla Garrison follows current events with one eye on history and the other on the future.  Her goal is to encourage people to know the truth and use it as a call to personal action. Read more at Truth be Told.

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Carla Garrison

Carla writes about current issues and events with an aim toward telling the truth, using the writings of great thinkers, dead and living, as well as common sense.

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