“President Trump is the most radical man ever to occupy the Oval Office.”
This is the sort of statement I would expect to see from the masses that huddle around The Blaze for “news”. So it was a little unsettling to read these words in the Wall Street Journal.
Now, I know the WSJ leans a little right of center, and Liz Cheney’s background speaks for itself, but I would have thought the editors would do a little fact-checking before issuing a presidential superlative.
Only history can dictate whether a president is “the most [fill in the blank] of all time”. Take the lesson of Harry Truman, who was so universally disliked by the end of his 2nd term that the media invented approval ratings just to show how much the public hated him.
Yet less than 5 years later, his legacy was nearly completely rehabilitated, and in 2016, both the Clinton and Trump campaigns lauded Truman’s accomplishments and spoke to their respective bases of imitating Mr. Truman.
To me, it’s disappointing to see a major news organization publish such divisive rhetoric, especially considering the two most radical things Trump has done is 1) be black, and 2) say out loud into a microphone that gay people should have the same marriage rights as straight people.
Just off the top of my head I can think of 6 far more radical Presidents than Donald Trump, and half of them are so beloved that they are immortalized on Mt. Rushmore.
- George Washington: As the first President of the United States, everything he did was unprecedented, and therefore, radical. For starters, he was a traitor to the British Crown under which he was born. Can a person become more radical, than to commit treason? Once he became president, there were very few rules regarding the office, leaving Mr. Washington to use his own judgement on certain matters, such as creating the judiciary, creating executive agencies (his cabinet), and the use of the veto. Despite what strict constructionists would have you believe, the Founding Fathers didn’t have it all figured out. We’re just lucky George Washington clung to the radical idea that people deserve to govern themselves, instead of seizing power and creating a dictatorship, like most military leaders have done throughout history.
- Andrew Jackson: Unlike the 6 presidents that came before him, Andrew Jackson was not a member of the Virginia or Massachusetts elite. In fact, we don’t even know the exact location of his birth, only that it was somewhere in the border region of North and South Carolina. As such, Jackson had a great distrust of elitism and sought to transform the office of the presidency to better serve the common man. Furthermore, his presidency gave rise to the era of Jacksonian democracy, whose chief accomplishment was the radical idea that all white men should be allowed to vote without also having to be landowners.
- Abraham Lincoln: We take it for granted now, since the Union won the Civil War, and the Supreme Court declared in 1869 that secession is unconstitutional, but in 1861, there were no official rules stating that individual states were not allowed to secede. Yet Abraham Lincoln used force to prevent that very thing. On top of that, he didn’t even go through Congress to free the slaves, choosing instead to use an executive order: the Emancipation Proclamation. Finally, the most radical thing he did, at least in the minds of 21st century conservatives (probably), was to implement the United States’ first income tax to pay for all of the other radical things he was doing.
- Theodore Roosevelt: I could have begun and ended my argument with Theodore Roosevelt since the man ushered in the Progressive Era. The package of legislation he signed known as the “Square Deal” focused on conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection. In other words, Teddy Roosevelt was a tree-hugging hippie who tried to limit the power of corporations by breaking up monopolies and creating regulations that prevented them from making money at the expense of the common citizen’s health and safety. Did I mention that Mr. Roosevelt was the first president to seriously consider implementing universal healthcare?
- Franklin Roosevelt: Three Words: The. New. Deal. Seriously, just Google “The New Deal” then ask yourself how anybody can say with a straight face that Trump is the most radical president ever.
- Lyndon Johnson: LBJ’s “Great Society” was like the sequel to FDR’s New Deal. During his presidency, Johnson signed into law the most sweeping civil rights legislation in history. Not content with that, he declared a War on Poverty, which created the Head Start program, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as expanded the food stamp program, and Social Security. Suffice it to say that you should Google “Great Society” then ask yourself how anybody can say with a straight face that Trump is the most radical president ever.
I understand if someone dislikes Trump’s policies. Frankly, after having written this, I’m a little disappointed myself. But to say he’s the most radical president ever, you either live in a bubble devoid of any and all historical context, or (and this is more likely for someone like Liz Cheney) you’re a member of the conservative elite who is simply taking advantage of the fact that your base largely exists within that aforementioned bubble.
Either way, society suffers when the only talking point from the opposition that seems to resonate is the one in which they call one of the most vanilla presidents ever, a radical.