Sunday, March 2, 2008

The greatest president of the 20th century

I just finished reading a thread on my family's website that asked the following question: "Who do you think was the greatest president of the 20th century."

This was not a fair question for someone to ask on this site, because I try my hardest not to let my children know where I stand politically. Either way, I checked out the answers to this question, and saw that my youngest brother wrote:

"I think I agree with Nana and pick FDR. If you think about it, we are in a very similar situation as to when FDR came into the presidency. A republican in office as we slide into depression, and a good chance a democrat will swoop in and try some radical economic fix.

So who knows, perhaps history will repeat itself."

Ten years ago I would have found myself agreeing with my brother, as many of my teachers lead me to think that FDR really was the greatest, but after much research, I now have to say I disagree with my bro.

Real bad I wanted to write the following. I typed it in. I touched the enter key. I did not hit it. I resisted the temptation.

Here's what I typed in: "FDR prolonged the great depression with his new deal and tax hikes. I'd have to go with RR who did the opposite with the recession he received and created the greatest economic expansion in American history at that time."

That's not real controversial, it's just that I don't want to risk my kids seeing it. And who knows if that question will still be on top of the thread list when my son decides to check out the family site. I wasn't about to risk it.

Not only that, but no one is talking about us going into a depression now, and only 45% of economists think we are headed into a recession, and most of that 45% would still acknowledge that if we did go into a recession it would be a mild one.

And that's another reason why I would pick RR, because since his tax cuts, and his economic policies, all recessions after him have been very minor.

One of the big things that lead to the great depression is that when we started to go into a recession when Hoover was in office, Hoover decided to raise taxes instead of cut them.

Then, when FDR was in office, he raised taxes even more via his new deal, and this ended up taking more money out of the pockets of people who didnt' have any and resulted in the great depression becoming the longest depression in American history.

FDR may have been credited with ending the great depression, but in reality, it never ended until after WWII. I will exammine this further in a future post.

While FDR did many wonderful things, such as inciting hope in the nation in a time of gloom, and in his many brilliant tactics during WWII, he is often given credit for ending the Great Depression, of which he should not.

I suppose there are other candidates, such as Theodor Roosevelt. Many of his policies still impact us. Hoover ended a great war, Wilson lead us through one, and Eisenlohower lead us through a decade of peace. Kennedy was an interesting president in his own right who still ranks among the most popular presidents by historical standards in polls.

All of those guys were great leaders, and I can see someone taking up the argument than any of them might be the greatest president of the 20th century.

Of course some might argue George W. Bush was the greatest despite the polls for pointing the finger at terrorists and those who harbor them, for hunting them down, and for his efforts in spreading democracy around the world. History, however, will have to be the judge of GWB.

Yes, I have banned myself from speaking out on the family website, but on my blog I can write whatever I want. My opinion is that while FDR was a great man and a great American, RR was the greatest president of the 20th century.

I understand that I have limited my argument here to a few simple facts, probably not enough to convince you that I am right. That's fine, because I'm going to leave this open to discussion, and I'll further argue my case in a later post.

If you agree or disagree with me, or if you agree with my brother, I'm interesting in your opinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FDR was the most important president of the 20th century. he changed the role of the presidency, government, and america in the world. his public works programs created many jobs and some of them are still here today. also, social security anyone?