People who read Reason Magazine ...
(or at least their website)
Today, in celebration of President's Day, one poster at reason.com invited readers to answer a number of questions
through the comments section. Here is question number two:
2. Who was the worst American president? (House rule: You can't say Bush, and you can't say Clinton. Exercise those history muscles, people.)
And here are the answers to that question: (a few obvious troll/joker replies excluded)
- Woodrow Wilson
- FDR, Lincoln, Nixon
- Andrew Jackson. The genocidiest president we ever had, nearly eliminated the judiciary as a meaningful check on government power by ignoring the Cherokee decision.
- Woodrow Wilson
- FDR, LBJ, Carter
- Worst Prez - FDR...the New Deal gift that keeps on giving...what's the fed govt. up to?...30% of GDP?
- For total effect, Carter
- Worst: FDR. Allegedly manipulated US entry into World War 2, snuck in a Pink Revolution during the Great Depression, implemented and continued economic policies that prolonged and deepened the Great Depression, expanded size and perceived rightfol role of government, and gets fawned over for it.
- FDR no question. Lengthened and deepened the depression. Instituted the New Deal, effectively turning the Federal Government an organized crime syndicate, and setting himself up as 'Godfather'.
- Worst: Teddy Roosevelt. Everything a libertarian could hate.
- FDR is definetly the worst president in history.
- Tie LBJ and Carter.
- FDR and Lincoln.
- I'm tempted to say Lincoln, but I don't think he was really the worst. The Civil War was inevitable by the time he came on the scene. Instead, I nominate Wilson.
- Both Roosevelts - who were determined to be imperial.
- I agree with most historians here: James Buchanan.
- Tie between FDR and James Buchanan.
- Buchanan. Pierce was awful too
- The Roosevelti seem to have a clear lead for worst, again in no particular order.
- tossup between FDR and Lincoln
- I'll have to go w/ the trio of 1850's prezes (Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan).
- FDR is probably worst of all because of his total disregard for the foundation of what makes America, America: the Constitution.
- It's a tossup between Grant, FDR and LBJ. I'll go with LBJ.
- Tied for worst is Richard M. Nixon. Thread rules don't allow me to say to say whom he is tied with.
Now we should all be aware that the comment section in a blog is the wild west of the Internet, so caution should be exercised when examining it. But it seems safe to say that libertarians hate Franklin Roosevelt (15 of the 27 replies listed above have FDR as the worst - sometimes tied with others). Which is odd, because FDR did much to help transform the United States into a country fully capable of dealing with the needs of a modern economy. An economy that:
- Was no longer family-based.
- That was moving further and further away from agriculture.
- That would benefit from a portable form of retirement insurance (Social Security)
- That would benefit from regulation of the securities business (to reduce fraud and increase transparency).
- That would benefit from regulation of critical utilities which at the time were local monopolies (or worse) in order to provide a measure of stability for citizens and businesses.
- That would benefit from legislation such as the creation of the National Labor Relations Act which enabled workers to exercise their own economic power.
Sure, there were stumbles along the way, and FDR's record is not pristine. But can anybody seriously argue that the U.S. economy was well-positioned to meet the economic challenges of 20th century with the policies of Cooledge and Hoover? The emerging modern economy demanded a dynamic and flexible approach, which includes all those despised-by-libertarians programs like unemployment insurance, subsidies for education (student and college), and "safety-net" programs that acknowledge the fact that economic growth involves "creative destruction". And that it's good policy
to help people through the "destruction" part, so that they might be able to be productive when the new order is established.
I wonder why the assorted commenters don't just head off to Iraq, which is a Libertarian Paradise.