According to historian and filmmaker Amity Shlaes, modern America under President Joe Biden is not all that different from the America that then-President Calvin Coolidge, a Republican, faced when he took office in 1923.
“It was very similar to today, almost eerily similar,” she said this week to Fox News.
She proceeded to provide three specific examples.
“We were coming out of a pandemic, influenza. Two, we had recession… or the prospect of recession. Three, we had hidden inflation. The government wasn’t acknowledging to people that prices were up 40%,” she said.
“There was a sense of radicalism in the country and people were talking socialism and there it was. In came Harding first, then Coolidge for common sense America, what they called normalcy. They were elected with strong number of votes,” she added.
A new Fox Nation special highlights President Coolidge’s time in office, and @AmityShlaes joins to share what we can expect to see! WATCH: pic.twitter.com/GYfoAuVBap
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) February 20, 2023
Then-Vice President Coolidge was reportedly sworn in as president in 1923 after then-President Warren G. Harding suddenly died of a heart attack. Coolidge won reelection the following year and was then succeeded in 1929 by Herbert Hoover.
The difference, of course, is that whereas current President Biden is a raging leftist, Coolidge was a cool-headed Republican. And as a cool-headed Republican, he often did or said things that were completely anathema to the left.
“Coolidge said some astounding things which are true, but which we don’t even dare say today. For example, he said personal rights and property rights are the same thing. He said,… the man who builds a factory, builds a temple. But he believed in work, hard work, and he believed also that people would advance in that situation,” she explained.
“He vetoed spending, including spending in areas such as disaster relief. He was an anti-crisis-spending because he said very often localities can take care of themselves or should. He was not inhumane, but he saw a restrained role for Washington,” she added.
“Envy, malice, uncharitableness, class jealousies, race prejudices and international enmities are not realities…They are only the fictions of unenlightened comprehension. Those who preach them are not safe advisers and not sound leaders.”
–#CalvinCoolidge #OTD in 1926. #POTUS pic.twitter.com/Muef96E1FZ
— Calvin Coolidge (@J_Cal_Coolidge) February 22, 2023
Also, Coolidge successfully steered America out of a recession, whereas Biden is steering America right toward one.
“Like the current administration, the Harding-Coolidge administration faced a tough recession from 1919-1921. But unlike the current administration, the Harding-Coolidge and Coolidge-Dawes administrations cut taxes, balanced budgets and slashed government spending, reducing federal debt by over a third in a decade,” a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Charles C. Johnson reads.
The column was actually written in 2011 and referenced the Obama administration. But given as the Biden administration is effectively the Obama 2.0 administration, it seems Johnson’s column is just as relevant today.
Johnson continued the column by describing how the previously afflicted economy finally began growing thanks to Coolidge’s policies.
“The economy grew, averaging just over 7% from 1924 to 1929, the years of his presidency. So did Coolidge’s popularity. He was so popular that even during the Great Depression’s height, song-writer Cole Porter compared his lover to the ‘Coolidge dollar,'” the op-ed explains.
Another similarity between then and now is the “contempt” that the elitist liberal elite class had for both the country, its founding, and those who’d defend them.
“Alice Roosevelt Longsworth, the daughter of Teddy [Roosevelt], accused Coolidge of having been ‘weaned on a pickle,'” Johnson explained in his column.
“In language similar to attacks on conservatives today, Pulitzer Prize winner Arthur Schlesinger castigated Coolidge for being too beholden to business. The narrative stuck. In 1995, another Pulitzer Prize winner, Irwin Unger, said Coolidge ‘slept away most of his five years in office. . . . The watchword of [his] government was do nothing,'” he added.
Unlike Obama (and Biden), Johnson further noted, Coolidge didn’t want to “spread the wealth around” but to grow it. Nor did he call for “shared sacrifice.” He called for good character.
There “is no surer road to destruction than prosperity without character,” he reportedly said in a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in 1921.
“I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. That is the chief meaning of freedom,” he added in a White House speech in 1924.
And so, while Coolidge entered a landscape “eerily similar” to today, he handled it in an entirely different way — a way that worked.
With this in mind, some say Coolidge’s actual presidency and policies most resemble those of former President Donald Trump, also a Republican.
Like Coolidge, our administration got the government out of the way to unleash the full power of the American economy!
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) February 16, 2023
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