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Calvin Coolidge, the last non-progressive president

John Moser and your humble servant conducted a colloquium on Calvin Coolidge last Friday.  It was fun.  We both wrote chapters for a book on Coolidge to be published next week (I think; it has been delayed by a year or so).  The book, Why Coolidge Matters, has some interesting contributors: Amity Schlaes, John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, Ward Connerly, Robert Ferrell, and a dozen others.  See if you enjoy the colloquium; I'll blog on the book at another time.
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Discussions - 12 Comments

Dukakis and Kerry: Why does Collidge matter? He was elected president.

Can you share more information about the book, Peter? Amazon the All Knowing doesn't acknowledge its existence.

That's probably because it is being published by the National Notary Association and I expect they know nothing about how All Knowing Amazon (or marketing) actually works.

There is no mention of it on the National Notary Association's site, either. I hope you're planning to sell it through the Ashbrook Center!

Let me get this straight -- Reagan was a progressive?

Sure. Given Reagan's broad use of executive powers, and the increase in the size of government that took place in the 1980s, he certainly fits the definition. It's safe to say, though, that he used progressive means in pursuit of conservative ends. The same cannot be said for Coolidge.

As for the book, it's very strange. An internet search turns up almost no reference to it at all. If I didn't actually have the proofs in my hands, I'd wonder whether it was some kind of crazy hoax.

That was a very satisfying discussion, gentlemen. Really, very good. But may I say that one of the most striking things about it was the level of the student participation. I've been noticing that, as well, in the other podcasts noted here from the colloquium series; especially in the Milkis and the Burlingame talks. The students are so well prepared and ask such cogent and insightful questions that is hard to believe that they are, mostly, between the ages of 18 and 22. More than the quality of your own talks or writing, this is an amazing and impressive testament to your work. Well done and congratulations!

I really encourage anyone who has not yet had the chance to listen to one of these podcasts to take the time and consider whether it is possible to find finer more engaged students on any campus in the country. I submit to you that it is not.

Was there anything on Coolidge's record as governor -especially on economic and regulatory policy?

I mentioned it briefly. During his days in Massachusetts state politics he actually fought for a minimum wage and a ban on child labor. However, he always believed that such matters should be left to state and local governments, and did not pursue them as president.

Coolidge's speeches as Gov of MA were published in Have Faith in Massachusetts. Interestingly, he points out that he, and the Republicans, were sometimes attacked as "Bolsheviki," apparently because they did support more funds for hospitals, teachers, the criminal justice system, and other public purposes. I believe (from memory) that he even criticized Dems for refusing to support the taxes needed for these public purposes. But, as John M says, he made a sharp distinction between state and federal powers. He believed that the feds should do everything possible to sustain national prosperity. It was from that prosperity that the states could fund their individual needs.

So these Republican ideas were not progressive because they were pushed by the states and not the federal government? And Reagan was progressive because he employed the full power of the federal government? Indeed Lochner era was progressive because it was not deferential to the states when it came to supporting state laws that regulated everything from child labor, min wage and the use of rags in bed sheets? In this sense Kelo is not progressive because it is deferential to state regulation.

Just did a Google search for the book - it shows up now on the National Notary Association's website, so apparently it can be ordered!

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