Posted by Peter W. Schramm
Gordon Lloyd’s Colloquium from last Friday on his book The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century is now out.
No doubt this is a useful "debate" to revisit, between big-govt. liberalism and big-business liberalism. But perhaps a more interesting debate (harder to find the documents because no formal argument ever took place precisely along these lines) would be between Hoover's liberalism and Coolidge's small-business, pro-federalist conservatism. Coolidge, one should remember, was more popular than Hoover was in the latter's best days. Moreover, when Ronald Reagan moved into the Oval Office, he placed Coolidge's, not Hoover's, picture on the wall.
I don't think Hoover's liberalism is the model contemporary Republicans should be looking back to.
I would settle for Hoover's Progressive Republicanism. Whatever Reagan's choice of wall portraits, the government he headed looked to Hoover more than to Coolidge. And at this point, we all might be willing to settle for FDR's actual extent of government and consider that conservative.
In the lecture, Gordon optimistically says that young people are more engaged by Hoover than by FDR. I so hope he's right.
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