Judging from some of the commentary in the news media, many people seemed surprised by the fact that Republican Sen. Rand Paul would visit Howard University, a university with a majority African-American student population. The main thrust of Paul’s speech last month was to try to persuade the African-American community that its interests were best served by the Republican party rather than the Democratic party, and that the GOP was still the party of Abraham Lincoln, the party that produced black congressmen after the Civil War and the first black United States senator in the 20th century.
The audience at Howard was polite but skeptical. Paul’s case may have been strengthened had he made reference not to the 16th president of the United States, but to the 30th president.
The 30th president, Republican Calvin Coolidge, was a major supporter of Howard University and an overlooked figure in advancing the cause of racial equality in the United States. In one of his earliest acts as president, Coolidge proposed and persuaded Congress to pass an appropriation bill that reinforced the unique relationship between Howard and the federal government.
In his First Annual Address to Congress in 1923 he wrote: “About half a million dollars is recommended for medical courses at Howard University to help contribute to the education of 500 colored doctors needed each year.” This appropriation was to grow over the years, leading to the production of health care and other professionals who would stimulate the growth of an African-American middle class and develop leaders in all walks of life, nationally and internationally.
Coolidge made it clear that his interest in Howard specifically and the African-American community generally was not limited to this one gesture. Historians of the civil rights movement of the often note the significance of a speech made at Howard in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson in which he uttered the words, “We shall overcome.” This was seen as a dramatic gesture at that time for a politician from the Southwest to echo the words of an anthem of the civil rights movement.
But forty years before Johnson’s declaration, Coolidge gave the commencement address at Howard and signaled a significant change in progressive race relations. In reading his words it must be recalled that he spoke at a time when separate but equal was the law of the land, when lynchings trumped due process in criminal cases involving black men, and when the most recent Democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, had praised a film which glorified the Ku Klux Klan.
Coolidge began his address by referencing the sad history of slavery and the importance of religious leaders in ending that period of American history. Because of his great interest in supporting business, he then described the growth of businesses owned by African-Americans since emancipation from slavery. He emphasized business growth and the spread of literacy among blacks as paralleling developments in the nation at large. To the Howard graduates and to the entire country he then said:
“The nation has need of all that can be contributed to it through the best efforts of all its citizens. The colored people have repeatedly proved their devotion to the high ideals of our country. They gave their services in the war with the same patriotism and readiness that other citizens did …. The propaganda of prejudice and hatred which sought to keep the colored men from supporting the national cause completely failed. The black man showed himself the same kind of citizen, moved by the same kind of patriotism, as the white man. They were tempted, but not one betrayed his country…They came home with many decorations and their conduct repeatedly won high commendation from both American and European commanders.”
Herman Cain debated Newt in a long format one on one and came out OK, so what is the problem Mitt?
Aren’t the American people deserving of a long format conversation that isn’t just cute 30 second responses? Mitt is trying to run out the clock and hope for a win without really fighting for it.
We all know Mitt’s past and we all know Gingrich’s. Both candidates in the past have had some foolish positions. The difference is not just some of the foolish positions that have come out of their mouths, but what they have actually implemented into law.
Mitt has the RomneyCare albatross around his neck which is too similar to ObamaCare. Gingrich talked about a health insurance mandate as a part of a thought experiment with a think tank and rejected the idea after a time because he concluded that a government powerful enough to impose such a mandate would also be a heavy handed disaster. Romney actually imposed a mandate. Both candidates say they are pro-life now, but as a matter of legislation only one has signed laws that have taxpayers pay for abortions and that is Mitt Romney.
Newt Gingrich has actually balanced the US budget, reformed entitlements and welfare into better working programs and Newt helped draft the Medicare Part D which came in 40% under budget. Newt blabs a lot, he is an academic and 50 odd sounding ideas will come out of his mouth every day, Newt’s mouth and academic way of thinking makes Newt his own worst enemy, but when you look at what laws were passed and how budgets were balanced Newt gets the job done and knows how to nationalize elections and get the American people behind an agenda he has sold on the merit. What has Mitt Romney actually DONE to advance the conservative movement or even protect traditional Americanism?
Newt has said a lot of things that are just dumb or were unfairly demagogued and lied about, but Newt admits these mistakes and does not sugar coat them. Mitt Romney lies about his. I have not caught Newt in a fib in any of the debates. I cannot say the same about Romney.
Newt is not afraid of the media and will take them on when needed, this is critically important to both the election and the fourth estate as a check and balance. The elite media is supposed to be helping keep government in check and instead most of what we get from them is cheer-leading for a leviathan state.
Newt Gingrich has been plugging away against Obama’s bad policies since 2009 and has been defending us in the elite media since Obama took office. Newt defended Sarah Palin as the press trashed her when we now know that on issue after issue after issue from death Panels, to ObamaCare costs, to the cronyism, to energy policy, to Egypt & Libya, to inflation and the increasing food problem that Palin has been almost prophetic in her correctness. Where was Mitt Romney in 2009 and 2010 when you and I were out protesting in the cold, raising awareness, networking to educate people, and raising funds for local candidates?
When history looks at who advanced the conservative movement the most Newt comes in second only to Ronald Reagan. Newt is featured in almost every political science textbook for his achievements. Newt’s name will always be remembered along the names of Reagan, Taft, Coolidge and Goldwater.
If this does end up as a race between Newt and Mitt, the choice of who to endorse is obvious.
The accomplishments of Calvin Coolidge are many and he was one of our greatest presidents. He helped lead the united states out of a depression caused in large part by the progressive policies of Woodrow Wilson, he helped to restore liberty and was the man largely responsible for making the “Roaring Twenties” roar. We featured him BEFORE. Coolidge’s accomplishments have been largely scrubbed from textbooks and he was the Reagan of his time.
Dr. Alan Snyder is professor of American history and chair of the Department of Historical, Legal, and Leadership Studies at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.
Ronald Reagan admired him a lot. In fact, when Reagan was looking over his new house—the White House—shortly after his inaugural in 1981, he entered into the Cabinet Room.
On the wall were portraits of Truman, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The White House curator commented at the time, “If you don’t like Mr. Truman, you can move Mr. Truman out.” Even though Reagan, a former Democrat, had voted for Truman back in 1948, he made his decision: Truman’s portrait was removed and one of Calvin Coolidge was dusted off and put in its place.
Nowadays, in all the “right” circles [to be found primarily among the academic elite], the person of Coolidge is a source of amusement, if not outright derision. Why, he was a do-nothing president, someone who didn’t use the power of the office as he should have. Probably his most grievous sin, in their view, was the way he put the brakes on destiny: he was a foe of the progressive movement that was intended to reshape American government and culture.
Coolidge, whose administration spanned a good part of the 1920s, was a throwback to an earlier time. He was not a Woodrow Wilson; rather, he believed in the vision of the Founding Fathers and their concept of limited government. He remained true to the principles of self-government and the sanctity of private property. The rule of law was paramount in his political philosophy. No one was above the law, a belief that, if followed, would keep the people safe from the power of an overextended government.
During the 1920s, the continent of Europe experimented with socialism. What might larger government be able to accomplish? What vistas await us once we unleash the full power of government intervention? Coolidge stood opposed to this false vision of the future.
Historians also like to make fun of his approach to speechmaking. Coolidge preferred to say as little as possible. As he once noted, he never got in trouble for things he didn’t say. Yet when he did speak, he made some very significant pronouncements. His words conveyed key ideas for American success. Meditate on this paragraph, for instance:
In a free republic a great government is the product of a great people. They will look to themselves rather than government for success. The destiny, the greatness of America lies around the hearthstone. If thrift and industry are taught there, and the example of self-sacrifice oft appears, if honor abide there, and high ideals, if there the building of fortune be subordinate to the building of character, America will live in security, rejoicing in an abundant prosperity and good government at home and in peace, respect, and confidence abroad. If these virtues be absent there is no power that can supply these blessings. Look well then to the hearthstone, therein all hope for America lies.
Notice Coolidge’s stress on what he called the “hearthstone,” which is a designation for the family. He saw the family as the cornerstone of society, the place where character should be developed. Note also his subordination of financial fortune to the building of character. Fortune may come, but only if character comes first: thrift, industry, and honor—qualities in short supply at the moment.
America was prosperous during the Coolidge years. The Great Depression was just around the corner, but it didn’t occur as a result of Coolidge’s policies of tax cuts and economic liberty. The Depression was more a result of misdirection from the Federal Reserve [low cash reserves in banks; easy credit]; its continuation throughout the 1930s was due to government actions of the New Deal.
If there’s one thing most historians can agree on with Coolidge, it’s that he easily would have won reelection in 1928 had he chosen to run again. Yet he voluntarily stood down. Why? What prompted that decision? He tells us what led him to do so in his autobiography.
It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exultation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.
Coolidge saw the problems associated with elected office. He knew that men often developed what might be called the “swelled-head syndrome.” He wanted nothing to do with that. If for no other reason, Coolidge should be honored for his willingness to set aside power and maintain his good character. Where are the politicians willing to do that today?
Coolidge’s thoughts on self-delusion mirror’s our critique of leftist academia and the political class that I stated my old college blog, “they pat each other on the back and tell each other how brilliant they are….and after all it MUST be true because all of these PhD. types tell them so. Invariably this environment brings you to a point where you start to believe it. You internalize it and eventually you stop challenging your own assumptions. The end result is an atrophied thinking process”. The result as I have been telling people who are willing to listen for several years is self-delusion.
“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X