Saturday, December 26, 2009

Teddy Roosevelt: Our best president?

The more I think about modern politics - aside from the sad devolution of Republican Party politics - the more it seems as though many Americans thought that President Barack Obama was going to be some kind of Teddy Roosevelt.

Hey, sorry, but a Teddy Roosevelt doesn't come around that often.

Teddy Roosevelt not only exemplified America at its best, at least in its turn-of-the-20th-century sense, but exemplified the sort of brio that has yet to be even approached by another president.

Roosevelt, who essentially picked up Lincoln's "three-yards-in-cloud-of-dust" approach to political progress and turned it into some thrilling foreward passes, was well ahead of his time, and maybe ahead of our time as well. Folks like former Vice-President Cheney and former Alaska Gov. Palin would certainly like you to think so.

The youngest man ever to assume the presidency, Roosevelt was somebody who actually deserved the Nobel Peace Prize (for mediating the resolultion of the war between Russia and Japan, as well as making the United States a world power interested in enforcing peace). (This didn't last long, but hey.)

He came to believe that the main goal of government is the welfare of the American people ... not a bad idea, the devolution of the above-named party notwithstanding. The economic polarization of the country, with the benificiaries of the great trusts so far removed from the workers living in poverty, appalled him.. Therefore, those trusts must be regulated. Hell, the constant economic "panics" were reason enough for strict regulation. (While Ronald Reagon said "Trust and verify" regarding the Soviets, Roosevelt said, in effect, "Trust and regulate" regarding corporations.) Recent economic conditions suggest Teddy Roosevelt's approach was correct.

Add Roosevelt's insistance on conservation of our natural landscapes to his understanding of the need for a graduated income tax and laws protecting workers from exploitation, and you see that Teddy Roosevelt may well have been our best president. Of course, that meant his ideas would soon essentially disappear from the American scene. Ideas are scary to the extent to which they are correct.

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