Here is a piece over at The American Thinker reminding us that doing (and articulating) the right thing is often a thankless task. It rarely, if ever, wins the hearts of “historians.” But then, Cal never really cared what the self-proclaimed opinion-makers thought of him or his achievements. This past week’s reaction to a frank discussion of public questions out of Donald Trump’s statements, to the ire of the GOP leadership, illustrates how unpopular speaking honestly is these days, even about matters crying out for a heady dose of Coolidgean common sense.
Those who have written the narrative purposely marginalize the last President who actually shrunk the size and reach of government, author Smith reminds us. We are shown that politics needs courage and character not merely showmanship or polished rhetoric. Coolidge combined the best of shrewd political judgment with wisdom and that rarest of commodities, courage to act decisively when the occasion required. Smith argues that this will win no favors with those who lack compunction to confront or aversion to resist the continued march of the implementation of socialism Coolidge withstood in his time. Smith recalls that Cal is underappreciated for the very reason that he defied these forces and stands as the last successful leader, chosen by an overwhelming popularity at the “grassroots,” to actually do what nearly every politician since has merely promised to get done. His strength to stand unmoved by the most intense of political pressures, his sense to detect charlatans and demagoguery, and his fortitude to call out things for the absurdities that they were, remain solid testaments to the enduring granite of Coolidge’s leadership.
What he said of Washington’s Monument (“There it still stands,” pointing to it out the White House window), when his predecessor was criticized, could likewise be said of Mr. Coolidge: There he still stands. As the culture and the politics were about to begin a wholesale repudiation of the Founding in the years following his retirement from office, turning away from principles understood and cherished since 1776, Coolidge remains the last presidential defender of what ’76 meant to countless lives of all backgrounds, men, women, rich, poor, of all colors and religious beliefs. Abandoning those principles for feudal property laws, government-administered rights (and therefore responsibilities), the source of human dignity as right from a benevolent government (rather than the Creator, as the Founders held), and the encroaching serfdom of Americans to what used to be their servants, the nation needs a return to the plea of Calvin Coolidge: “Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought.”
We have to understand them before we reject their ideas as false or doomed to failure in the end. It is our ignorance of their perspective that brought America to its current place. We are here not by virtue of applying their thoughts to our time but because we effectively abandoned them from the fourth decade of the twentieth century onward. We have bought wholesale into the irrational hostility of Charles Beard, the suave salesmanship of John Dewey, and the vengeful opportunism of FDR, against a grounded understanding of human nature, real justice, and individual liberty possessed by the Founders. We began as the nation of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison but we are now the nation of Beard, Dewey, Roosevelt, and Zinn, dragging us again into conformity with the old oligarchic system of Europe: absolute rule by a few. Morally confused as we are, we mistake it as something the Founders did to us rather than a fundamental perversion of the principles that declared those eternal and self-evident truths two centuries ago. We fail to detect the wizards behind the curtain are not the Founders but merely the totalitarians of our day, the demagogues and tyrants, of whom the Framers warned. Lest we see them or their motives for what they are, they cloth themselves with piously indignant cries for fairness, love, life and liberty, when in actuality they despise merit, nurse hatred, take joy at death and seek to enslave not liberate.
Today’s educated elite and political class, ready to jettison those Founding conclusions without even a basic comprehension or discussion of them, deserve a long delayed but forced retirement from holding those levers of power enjoyed and abused for far too long. If just results for everyone, as the Founder’s conceived them, are to survive, honest history needs to be taught again and its use as a weapon to divide and conquer a permanent underclass of ignorant subjects (once proudly called Americans) exposed for the evil and injustice that it is. Coolidge may never be understood or fully honored for his contribution to that renewed infusion of sense and truth on public policy but his heroic principles are beginning to resonate for their vision and value once more.
“Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President” by Charles C. Johnson (New York: Encounter, 2013)
“Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America” by Thomas G. West (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001)