Cal and Response

State of the Union: Coolidge points to a presidency that could reunite the tearing wings of the GOP.  The post Cal and Response appeared first on The American Conservative.

Calvin Coolidge became president of the United States at 2:47 am on August 3, 1923. That was 100 years ago today. Phillip Linderman’s an encomium commemorating the occasion at TAC demonstrated that Coolidge was a president who combined humble dignity with principled decisiveness. This combination makes him the perfect example to bridge the divide in today’s Republican Party.

Coolidge’s quiet commitment to smaller government–and his impressive record. “During his six-year tenure in the White House he reduced the debt by about one-third, cut federal expenditures, and balanced the annual budget, a feat unmatched by any other president since .”–. This appeals to conservatives in the establishment who don’t yet understand that what they support as shrinking of the administrative state, and what they fear as executive overreach, go hand-in-hand.

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The record of his immigration rhetoric and actions, on the other hand, make the “New Right’s” primary concern about American identity and exceptionalism more appealing to conservative intellectuals who are more concerned with being called a racial at a cocktail than the shame of selling their patrimony. He said:

Restricted Immigration is not offensive, but only defensive. This is not done to criticize others, but only for our own protection. No race or creed is denigrated, but it’s important to remember that the entire purpose of our government and society will be lost if America does not remain American.

Coolidge’s 1924 Immigration Act halted the massive waves of immigrants that were transforming America. Linderman states that “At the moment of the 1924 Act, almost 14 per cent of the country’s total population was foreign born, which is similar to the percentage of Americans in the 2020s.” A time-out on immigration is exactly what we need, especially if our goal is to avoid a war with its associated national mobilization. Cooldige’s legacy and a better understanding of his life may help those who are too distracted by Donald Trump’s call for a wall, to think about the needs of their nation.

Coolidge became president because Warren Harding died unexpectedly. Coolidge won the 1924 elections on his terms. He was also noted for his direct communication to the press and the electorate, despite his now-proverbial quiet. The question is whether there are any men like him on the national stage today. Or if he could be elected in this digital and televisual age rather than in the radio era. It is a hope, but a false one.

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