Unsuccessful Presidents Identified- 1865-1940 Andrew Term Paper

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Between 12 to 14 million Americans were unemployed before the end of Hoover's term.

John Maynard Keynes, the British economist, proposed that high unemployment, being a result of insufficient consumer spending, could be relieved by government-sponsored programs. He also advocated deficit spending by governments to stimulate economic activity. His methodology has been referred to as Keynesian economics. All four of these unsuccessful Presidents did not participate in a deficit spending program to relieve the depression.

It was Roosevelt who achieved the actual implantation of what had been in many instances little more than abstract concepts formulated by earlier progressives, added to them - however unwittingly - Keynesian economics, and encased the whole package within a framework of "pluralist" or interest-group liberalism. And it was Roosevelt who used the diplomatic realism of his cousin Theodore with the idealism of his older leader Woodrow Wilson in such a way that the American nation was irreversibly committed to active participation a world it had largely shunned," Alonzo L. Hamby said.

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Americans must be concerned about what occurs outside of their country's borders. "A half-century ago people in this country had a sense of security vis-a-vis their world environment such as I suppose no people had ever had since the days of the Roman Empire." Because of the geographic position, the country is relatively safe from invaders. This may have caused a false belief in not caring what happens outside the borders. Then when a major event occurs, the President must concentrate there on that matter, and not have the ability to work on interior problems, much of what happened with McKinley.

Term Paper on Unsuccessful Presidents Identified- 1865-1940 Andrew Assignment

Perhaps some of this "head-in-the-sand" approach comes from the beginnings of the country. A rural, farmer society, Americans cared little about affairs beyond their local domains. "The United States was born in the country and has moved to the City. From the beginning, its political values and ideas were of necessity shaped by country life. The early American politician, the country editor, who wished to address himself to the common man, had to draw upon a rhetoric that would touch the tillers of the soil; and even the spokesmen of city people knew that his audience had been in very large part reared upon the farm," Richard Hofstadter said.

The country was founded with disdain toward a strong, one-person-in-control government. The presidency, although required, was weakened by the Founding Fathers. They chose to share a balance of power with Congress. Trying to afford a balance between what might be considered a liberal or conservative stance, democracy itself, a radical approach at the time, needed controls in order to establish a workable government.

The thought process of the Fathers is provoking. "The Fathers were intellectual heirs of seventeenth-century English republicanism with is opposition to arbitrary rule and faith in popular sovereignty. If they feared the advance of democracy, they also had misgivings about turning to the extreme right. Having recently experienced a bitter revolutionary struggle with an external power beyond their control, they were in no mood to follow Hobbes to his conclusion that any kind of government must be accepted in order to avert the anarchy and terror of a state of nature. They were uneasily aware that both military dictatorship and a return to monarchy be seriously discussed in some quarters - the former chiefly among unpaid and discontented army officers, the latter in rich and fashionable Northern circles."

The economy remains as one of the more important concerns for a President. Its performance directly affects the President's ability. The national economy is directly effected by the President. What the President does, and does not do, can also change the economic mood. Cleveland had discovered a cancerous growth on the roof of his mouth in the middle of the economic crisis of 1893. Just so his illness would not cause a greater panic in the country, he and several doctors snuck aboard a pleasure boat and removed the growth. The public was told he was on a fishing trip, and the truth was never revealed until 23 years later.

Economic issues concern all Americans, no matter what their politics or class. While politics might determine their belief in how to handle the economic crisis, the truth is that the President is blamed when economic times are bad. A depression stings those that loose a job. Contracted debts cannot be repaid. Stifled economic growth calls for decisive action.

Democratic ideas are most likely to take root among discontented and oppressed classes, rising middle classes, or perhaps some section of an old, alienated and a partially disinherited aristocracy, but they do not appeal to a privileged class this is still amplifying its privileges, " Hofstadter explained. Economic discourse can cause severe hardships, and that causes unrest and the masses seeking a new way of handling or resolving the problem of the poor economy or depression.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of changing policy, Hofstadter says. "The so-called Conservatives of the American past have been only more cautious liberals." Another view is the concept of "status politics" -- the notion that people act less from pure economic self-interest than from a desire to preserve their social standing. It could be argued that the fears of modernity and nostalgia for an agrarian past controlled these failed Presidents and their administrations. Failing to see the changes in the world beyond the borders caused significant problems.

Because of the way the Father established the government of the United States, this country has an absence of class strife and political instability that had devastated Europe over the period these men served as President. Yet American political reformers habitually reverted to antiquated eighteenth century ideals whenever there were issues or problems to resolve. Perhaps sometimes simply described as stubbornness, the failed presidents consistently retained their steadfastness. The example of Grover Cleveland - constantly using his veto power - rather than compromise or try a different approach - proves his inability to do anything other than to retain a status quo. Rather than change their thinking, from a conservative to liberal stance, it was safer to remain steadfast with their belief. In so doing, they guided their presidency into failure.

End Notes

Alonzo L. Hamby (1992). Liberalism and Its Challengers: From F.D.R. To Bush. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 431 p. [2nd ed.]). Teaches American History (Ohio University, 13

George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 7

Richard Hofstadter, (1960). Age of Reform (New York, NY: Random House 1960), 4.

Richard Hofstadter with an foreword by Christopher Lasch (1974). The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It. (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 501 p. (Reprint 1948 ed.)).,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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