Presidential candidates of all parties should closely study the actions and motivations of one of their predecessors, President Calvin Coolidge. Phillip Linderman explains how Coolidge set the precedent for modern presidents. He writes in The American Conservative:
In honoring the centennial of Calvin Coolidge, sworn in as our first modern conservative president on August 3, 1923, we can benefit from reflecting on his achievements in overcoming national challenges that were remarkably similar to those of today.
Liberal historians predictably dismiss Coolidge as a “do-nothing” president who was out of step with the country; they mock his taciturn style and disdain his restraint in exercising governmental power. But for main-street conservatives, Coolidge’s understated leadership and highly principled conservatism provide a wellspring of examples for future presidents.
Start with Coolidge’s mild-mannered and unassuming personality. The small-town values that guided the thirtieth president during his six years in the White House set a classic standard of good taste and restraint. It holds up refreshingly well against our contemporary age of political bombast, exaggeration, and overstatement.
His personal modesty, however, did not keep Coolidge out of touch with his times. Despite the distractions of the decadent Jazz Age of flappers, speakeasy bars, and roaring self-indulgence, the unassuming Coolidge remained a highly effective communicator, constantly getting his conservative message out to the public and winning decisively the 1924 presidential election. Coolidge held more press conferences than any president ever and through his agreeable personality brought over many journalists to his small-government cause—although the curmudgeon H. L. Mencken, who probably would have dished any occupant of the White House, remained a skeptic.
Coolidge was also modern in his day, on the cutting-edge of the latest technology. Speaking to the American public in some fifty radio broadcasts, it was Silent Cal, not FDR, who actually pioneered presidential talks across the airwaves. Yet, even while being a force in public discourse, Coolidge demonstrated how great presidents can navigate the ship of state without constantly making themselves the center of national attention.
But more important than Coolidge’s modest personal style was his common-sense policy conservatism. Conservatives too often overlook Coolidge’s impressive record, but thanks to the good work of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and historians like Amity Shlaes, that neglect is changing. The current generation is learning how our thirtieth president, with his unflinching commitment to conservative values, successfully resisted powerful political and social forces that would have taken America in the wrong direction.
Action Line: All candidates could take a cue from Calvin Coolidge. Click here to subscribe to my free monthly Survive & Thrive letter.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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