When I was became interested in public policy, I thought Jimmy Carter was the epitome of a bad President. But as I began to learn economics, I realized that Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson also were terrible and belong in the Hall of Fame of bad Presidents.
Or I guess we should call it a Hall of Shame (you can click on the image to see my selections).
Whatever we call it, I’m now at the point where I realize that Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt are the charter members. Why? Well, because they were the first Presidents to reflect the progressive ideology.
More specifically, they shared the ideology of the progressive movement, which saw a powerful and activist central government as a force for good – a radical departure from the views of America’s Founding Fathers, who hoped that the Constitution would protect people by keeping government very small.
Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is in that “progressive” tradition, even to the point of attacking the views of the Founding Fathers in a recent speech at Ohio State University.
I commented on this issue in this Fox News segment.
That short clip only scratches the surface.
For more detail, here are some excerpts from a column by Andrew Napolitano. Like me, he isn’t impressed by the President’s statolatry.
It should come as no surprise that President Obama told Ohio State students at graduation ceremonies last week that they should not question authority… And he blasted those who incessantly warn of government tyranny. Yet, mistrust of government is as old as America itself. America was born out of mistrust of government. …Thomas Jefferson…warned that it is the nature of government over time to increase and of liberty to decrease. And that’s why we should not trust government. In the same era, James Madison himself agreed when he wrote, “All men having power should be distrusted to a certain degree.” …The reason Obama likes government and the reason it is “a dangerous fire,” as George Washington warned, and the reason I have been warning against government tyranny in my public work is all the same: The government rejects the natural law because it is an obstacle to its control over us. …Because the tyranny of the majority can be as dangerous to freedom as the tyranny of a madman, all use of governmental power should be challenged and questioned. Government is essentially the negation of liberty.
Napolitano also warns against majoritarianism in his column, which is music to my ears.
Though I’m not sure our battle today is with majoritarianism or the progressive ideology.
Our real challenge is redistributionism. Far too many people think it is okay to use the coercive power of government to obtain unearned benefits. And that’s true whether the benefits are food stamps or bailouts.
And as we travel farther and farther down this path, it leads to ever-greater levels of dependency and ever-higher levels of taxation. But that simply means more people decide it makes more sense to ride in the wagon rather than pull the wagon.
Somehow, we have to reverse this downward spiral.
Unless we want America to become Greece or France, at which point productive people may be forced to emigrate – assuming there are still some sensible nations left in the world.