Tag Archives: Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt’s Liberty

The following is from Teddy Roosevelt who was looking for a third term as President against sitting President William Taft (R) and New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson (D).  Roosevelt was running as a Bull Moose candidate in 1912.

Here is the transcript:

“The difference between Mr. Wilson and myself is fundamental. The other day in a speech at Sioux Falls, Mr. Wilson stated his position when he said that the history of government, the history of liberty, was the history of the limitation of governmental power. This is true as an academic statement of history in the past. It is not true as a statement affecting the present. It is true of the history of medieval Europe. It is not true of the history of 20th century America. In the days when all governmental power existed exclusively in the king or in the baronage and when the people had no shred of that power in their own hands, then it undoubtedly was true that the history of liberty was the history of the limitation of the governmental power of the outsider to possess that power. But today the people have, actually or potentially, the entire governmental power. It is theirs to use and to exercise if they choose to use and to exercise it. It offers the only adequate instrument with which they can work for the betterment, for the uplifting of the masses of our people. The liberty of which Mr. Wilson speaks today means merely the liberty of some great trust magnate to do that which he is not entitled to do. It means merely the liberty of some factory owner to work haggard women over hours for underpay and himself to pocket the proceeds. It means the liberty of the factory owner to crowd his operatives into some crazy death trap on the top floor where, if fire starts, the slaughter is immense. It means the liberty of the big factory owner who is conscienceless and unscrupulous to work his men and women under conditions which eat into their lives like a maggot. It means the liberty of even less conscientious factory owners to make their money out of the toil, the labor of little children. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by Mr. Wilson. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by the limitation of governmental power. We propose on the contrary to extend governmental power in order to secure the liberty of the wage worker, of the men and women who toil in industry, to save the liberty of the oppressed from the oppressor. Mr. Wilson stands for the liberty of the oppressor to oppress. We stand for the limitation of his liberty thus to oppress those who are weaker than himself. ”

What is your take on Roosevelt’s speech?  What is your definition of liberty?

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Party Conflicts

The following is an excerpt from an edition of a Pearson Custom Textbook that I wrote in the past:

I am a big fan of political movements. I like how they bring new voters to the political process. For me, the more participation in politics, the better for our democracy. What I do fear, however, is the power of this anti-incumbent, anti-establishment movement that is currently in our midst and how long it will last.

History shows us that political movements that challenge the political status quo tend to start off quickly and then fade away just as fast.   The Liberty and Free Soil Parties of the 1830s and 1840s wanted to abolish slavery to different degrees, but because these parties were considered one-issue parties which could not challenge the breadth and depth of the major parties of the time, the Democrats and Whigs. In fact, those anti-slavery movements gave rise to the Republican Party in the 1850s.

The Populist Party of the 1880s established itself as a party working on behalf of America’s farmers and laborers. The Democratic Party, seeing a rift within their own party, usurped the rising third party’s issues, which in turn, nullified the need of a third party.  By 1900, the Populist Party as a national force was no more.

Progressives found a voice in 1912 with the candidacy of Teddy Roosevelt for President as the Bull Moose nominee. The Progressive movement had been around before 1912, but now they had a national figure to head their cause. When Roosevelt lost that year, the Bull Moose Party dissolved and the Progressive movement sputtered.

In 1992, I remember the anti-establishment candidacy of Ross Perot. He had ballot access in all 50 states. He rode a national tide built on small government, lower tax, and government accountability rhetoric. Perot lost, but Republicans used that same rhetoric to win both houses of Congress in 1994. When Perot ran for President in 1996, his campaign was considered unnecessary because the Republican Party was now firmly entrenched as the party of smaller government.

But what of that smaller government, low tax, government accountability, Republican Party of 1994? By 2008, the party had shifted away from those principles and gave rise to the Tea Party and anti-incumbent movements that we see today.  It is now 2015 and the Republican Party still has a conflict with its membership as so-called Tea Party Republicans have labeled House Speaker John Boehner as an establishment Republican.

My question is: are anti-establishment party movements good for American politics?

Clip from the Past: Teddy Roosevelt

The following is a recording of Teddy Roosevelt from 1912 who was looking for a third term as President against sitting President William Taft (R) and New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson (D).  Roosevelt was running as a Bull Moose candidate in 1912.

Here is a transcript of the recording:

“The difference between Mr. Wilson and myself is fundamental. The other day in a speech at Sioux Falls, Mr. Wilson stated his position when he said that the history of government, the history of liberty, was the history of the limitation of governmental power. This is true as an academic statement of history in the past. It is not true as a statement affecting the present. It is true of the history of medieval Europe. It is not true of the history of 20th century America. In the days when all governmental power existed exclusively in the king or in the baronage and when the people had no shred of that power in their own hands, then it undoubtedly was true that the history of liberty was the history of the limitation of the governmental power of the outsider to possess that power. But today the people have, actually or potentially, the entire governmental power. It is theirs to use and to exercise if they choose to use and to exercise it. It offers the only adequate instrument with which they can work for the betterment, for the uplifting of the masses of our people. The liberty of which Mr. Wilson speaks today means merely the liberty of some great trust magnate to do that which he is not entitled to do. It means merely the liberty of some factory owner to work haggard women over hours for underpay and himself to pocket the proceeds. It means the liberty of the factory owner to crowd his operatives into some crazy death trap on the top floor where, if fire starts, the slaughter is immense. It means the liberty of the big factory owner who is conscienceless and unscrupulous to work his men and women under conditions which eat into their lives like a maggot. It means the liberty of even less conscientious factory owners to make their money out of the toil, the labor of little children. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by Mr. Wilson. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by the limitation of governmental power. We propose on the contrary to extend governmental power in order to secure the liberty of the wage worker, of the men and women who toil in industry, to save the liberty of the oppressed from the oppressor. Mr. Wilson stands for the liberty of the oppressor to oppress. We stand for the limitation of his liberty thus to oppress those who are weaker than himself. ”

What is your take on Roosevelt’s speech?  What is your definition of liberty?

It’s a Presidents’ Day Celebration

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I’m displaying a list of the top 10 greatest Presidents as determined by the Siena College Research Institute Presidential Ranking Survey.  Results from that 2010 poll can be found here.

In their survey, the top rated President was Franklin D. Roosevelt, followed by Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson in the Top 5.  My list is in alphabetical order.

Who do you consider to be the country’s greatest President and why?  Take the poll and explain your answer.