Monday, June 05, 2017

Trump Is A Repeat Of The Failed Harding Presidency

Donald Trump likes to compare himself to Andrew Jackson, but there's a better comparison. He is far more like the xenophobic and corporatist presidency of Warren G. Harding (pictured) -- now believed by most to be one of our worst presidents.

Consider this excellent post from Daily Kos. Here is a part of that post:

Trump, if he believes in anything at all, is an old style nationalist/populist of the old Republican sort. In fact, he's remarkably similar to Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States. Harding ran as a nationalist Republican, against the policies of the internationalist incumbent Woodrow Wilson. Wilson had successfully concluded World War I, and in its wake attempted to form a global consensus for basic human rights, national self-determination, and multilateralism. He was hailed a conquering hero abroad, but at home the American people took a sharp right turn towards isolationism, nationalism, and economic conservatism. Harding's opponent, Ohio Governor James Cox, was defeated by a wide popular and electoral margin. (Notably, FDR was the VP nominee on the Cox ticket). Harding's campaign motto "America First" and messaging dripped with ethno-nationalism, trade protectionism, and exactly the sorts of messages we hear from Trump. . . .
The sentiment is the same: less world, more America. 'Return to Normalcy' was the clarion call to disengage from global affairs and the progressive social movements that had taken root domestically. Harding took power with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress. 
Like Trump, the first thing Harding and the Republicans acted on was hurting immigrants. In this case, limiting the Irish, Southern and Eastern European variety most importantly and for damn sure everyone else. The President signed the Emergency Quota Act just a couple months after taking office. The Act almost shut America's immigration doors for two  generations until LBJ got rid of it in 1965. Next Harding went after foreign trade, passing a huge tarriff on imports. 
Harding hardly went anywhere. While Wilson had toured all throughout Europe, Harding made just one single official foreign excursion. To Vancouver. And even that was because of a layover on the way back from Alaska. (In fact, we wouldn't have a truly globe trotting President again until FDR). Policy wise he was clearly against the League of Nations, and adopted a mostly limited interventionist policy. Multilateralism was absolutely out of favor. His main focus with respect to post Great War Europe, was collecting money from them for America's defense efforts. Sound familiar? 
His big domestic initiatives mainly involved opposition to social benefits, union busting, and huge tax cuts for the rich. Sound familiar?
A little over two years into power, Harding had a heart attack and dropped dead. Subsequently, the Teapot Dome and several other major scandals were uncovered. His extramarital affairs were revealed. His VP and successor, Calvin Coolidge, wouldn't even attend the dedication of his rather minor monument. Neither would another member of his administration, future president Herbert Hoover. Harding is now considered to be among the very worst presidents the nation has ever had. 
As for Trump, he and Harding also have something in common other than being terribly short sighted and corrupt Republican presidents: they both frequently mangled the English language terribly. I give you the one and only H. L. Mencken:
He writes the worst English I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights.

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