We’ve Been Here Before

History can be a wonderful teacher; a teacher like that special one you had in elementary school; that special Sunday School teacher that taught you about right and wrong; or the college professor that greatly influenced or even changed your life.

I’m reading such an teacher now in an article from The Weekly Standard of October 24, 2011 entitled Time for Another Harding? Even though it may sound like a cliché it reads like todays newspaper with regards to todays economic condition.

I’ve never studied Harding, but an article such as this whets my appetite for more on the man; consider the following excerpts and paraphrases  from the article and my specific commentary (this font) and please read the original for yourself.

He followed an unpopular Progressive President Woodrow Wilson.

The progressive Woodrow Wilson was nervous about holding the White House and Harding was denounced as “a confirmed and hopeless reactionary.”

Obama and his minions have been demonizing opponents from the beginning of his presidency, even going so far as calling people terrorists and racists and Sons of Bitches, and it will get worse as we approach the 2012 election, probably resulting in blood in the streets blamed on Republicans. 

Photo of President Harding

The author claims that Warren G. Harding has come to be thought of as one of the worst presidents America has ever had. Yet he achieved a good deal more in the two and a half years he served before his sudden death than many presidents accomplish in a full term. He was warm, gregarious and while a senator from Ohio was known for his ability to bring opposing sides together. He was as different from the unpopular Woodrow Wilson, perceived by many as a rigid, unapproachable ideologue—as one could possibly be.

It’s hard for me to picture a ideologue more rigid or more of an ideologue than Obama.

The economic condition of America was bad when Harding was sworn in in 1921 with high unemployment  from military demobilization following  World War I being a chief contributor. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve was inflating the money supply thus reducing the buying power of the American public. Under Wilson the federal government grew rapidly and the national debt rose 24 times to $24 billion in 1920 from $1 billion in 1914, did you catch that? a stunning 24 fold increase. Bankruptcies rose and many businesses failed during the later (1920-21) years of the Wilson. depression. Racial riots were common as returning black soldiers returned home and were unable to find jobs.  

Conditions that closely mirror today’s.

Harding had a plan for turning the economy around, and at a special joint session of Congress shortly after his inauguration he laid out his agenda and priorities. His program included:

  • tax reform,
  • continued tariff protection,
  • legislation to help farmers,
  • creation of a national budget system to help get government spending under control,
  • construction of a great merchant marine,
  • a system of national highways for interstate commerce and the “motor car” (financed with local and state bond issues),
  • encouragement of aviation technology for civilian and military purposes,
  • increased federal participation in international cable and radio transmissions,
  • a Veterans’ Bureau,
  • a Department of Public Welfare to help women and children.

Similar in principle to many conservative and Tea Party ideas and principles.

Harding also called for a federal anti-lynching law, to “rid the stain of barbaric lynching from the banner of a free and orderly representative democracy.” And he proposed creation of an interracial commission to promote better relations between the races. Woodrow Wilson had introduced segregation into the federal government while Harding urged his cabinet to appoint qualified blacks to their departments, and in speeches he attacked the Ku Klux Klan. The legislation he championed, however, came to naught. When the Republican majority in the Senate was ready to pass the anti-lynching law Harding favored (the Dyer Bill), Democrats killed it with a filibuster. The proposal for an interracial commission died in committee.

The Democrat party is the party of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the KKK and lynching of blacks. It is also the party that opposed all civil rights legislation presented by Republican Congresses from the Civil War up to LBJ in 1964 when it became expedient to get on the Civil Rights bandwagon and start calling Republicans racist.  Be careful and know the record of those who you stand beside and support, it is past time to correct the record on who really is the racist party, and it is not the Republicans.

Harding’s view of  American exceptionalism was highlighted in a speech he gave in 1920, three years after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia as follows:

Abroad, particularly in Russia, there has grown up the idea that by some impossible magic a government can give out a bounty by the mere fact of having liberty and equality written over its door, and that citizenship need make no deposit in the bank of the common weal in order to write checks upon the bank. Here at home we have had too much encouragement given to the idea that a government is a something for nothing institution. .  .  . It is only in a country where the merit, capacity and worth of men and women are recognized and rewarded that merit, capacity and worth are developed.

You and I, and good Americans of whatever color, blood or creed, know that the aspiration of all men is equal opportunity, and that no injustice known to man can be greater than that of the tyranny and autocracy that .  .  . enslaves all men and all their ambitions and all their freedom.

Harding, as virtually all succeeding presidents, understood tyranny and refused to cozy up to it. Contrast this with the Progressive Obama and many other Democrats who now seem to be cozying up to the various Communists, Marxists, Nazis, anti-capitalists and other leftists populating the “occupy’ movements around the country.

A key to Harding’s success was  his determination to put together a first rate cabinet, and for the most part he did. He chose Andrew Mellon as secretary of the Treasury, Herbert Hoover as secretary of commerce, Charles Evans Hughes, former governor of New York as  secretary of state and Henry C. Wallace as secretary of agriculture. Charles G. Dawes was selected to head a newly formed Budget Bureau which turned out to be key in getting the federal budget under control.

Going against the popular slip stream here I greatly admire the team that President Bush gathered around him such as Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and others that kept us safe and prosperous for seven years following the 9/11 attacks.

On June 24, 1921 a meeting was held in the auditorium of the Interior Department attended by the president, Vice President Calvin Coolidge, the cabinet, and 1,200 bureau and division chiefs. Harding began by telling his audience,

 “There is not a menace in the world today like that of growing public indebtedness and mounting public expenditure.”

Perhaps the single most dominant complaint and concern  of the Tea Party is the recognition of what Harding addressed in the quote above. This alarm was echoed by Joint Chief of Staff chairman Admiral Michael Mullen in recent years. Obama has only recently and reluctantly been dragged into the discussion but clearly has no interest in it.

Dawes signed up for only a year, and by the time that year was up the federal budget had been balanced, revenues exceeded expenditures, and the public debt had been reduced and Federal spending had dropped from $6.3 billion in 1920 to
$5 billion in 1921 and then $3.3 billion in 1922.

While Harding had presented Congress with the nation’s first coordinated federal budget, he had also approved passage of the Revenue Act of 1921, which eliminated the World War I excess-profits tax, settled on a corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent, brought the top marginal income tax rate down from 73 percent to 58 percent, decreased surtaxes on incomes above $5,000, and provided increased exemptions for families.

Harding was consistent in his dedication to fiscal responsibility, even even to the point of vetoing a popular bi-partisan bill granting bonuses to World War I soldiers and sailors that would have busted the budget and added significant debt.

Harding died of a heart attack on August 2, 1923, having fulfilled his goal of restoring prosperity.

Surveying the economic situation in 1940 after the economy’s downturn and what people were beginning to call a new Roosevelt depression, Charles G. Dawes penned a warning:

Some day, a President, if he is to save the country from bankruptcy and its people from ruin, must make the old fight over again, and this time the battle will be waged against desperate disadvantages. Against him will be arrayed the largest, strongest, and most formidably entrenched army of interested government spenders, wasters, and patronage-dispensing politicians the world has yet known.

Dawes was prescient. As the old fight is once again being waged, we can only hope that the president Americans elect in 2012 will be as much of a “reactionary” as Warren G. Harding—and as much of a success.

There you have it! We’ve been here already, and I suspect if you were to look at the historical record you will see similar examples, the most notable being the Reagan revolution of the 1980s.

History is a splendid teacher, but only if read and studied. It seems to me that the Progressives in our midst don’t and haven’t studied history, nor do they care what history teaches, but live in the fantasy land of the various utopian world views that have visited us on a regular basis, and always with catastrophic ends; a world view that consistently looks to a perfect future of their own making and a view that destroys individual liberty and prosperity.

Perilous time await us and our posterity if we collectively and deliberately ignore the great teacher. 

But don’t trust what I have said, consult that great teacher yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Don Johnson – October 2011


2 responses to “We’ve Been Here Before

  1. Pingback: A Refuge for Racists: The Democrat Party | A Yearning for Publius

  2. Reblogged this on A Yearning for Publius and commented:

    Revisiting thoughts of 5 years ago reveal (unsurprisingly) that not much has changed. One thing that has not changed is my Yearning For Publius and the wisdom of our founding fathers.

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