“Did Woodrow Wilson Destroy the American Presidency?” asks the left-leaning National Interest. As with most self-styled “Progressives,” Wilson wanted to destroy the Founding Fathers’ original vision, so he likely wouldn’t have many complaints if the verdict came back, “Yes:”
This bias toward progressive presidencies is part of Woodrow Wilson’s legacy, for the Princeton professor changed the way both practitioners and his fellow academics thought about the presidency. Both Professor Wilson and President Wilson believed that the Constitution was not fit for the complexities of twentieth-century American life. A document written at a time when the horse and buggy was the main mode of transportation was seen as an obstacle to creating an activist government capable of checking big business. Wilson held that it was the responsibility of the president to break the gridlock caused by the Constitution’s separation of powers and unleash the power of the federal government to restrain the barons of industry.
The president would break this gridlock by serving as his party’s leader, thereby bridging the separation of powers between the executive and the legislature, and would preside over an executive branch composed of experts who would regulate the economy in the interest of the common man. In addition to presiding over this regulatory state, the president would serve as an educator and visionary who would lead the nation through his oratorical skills.
So a Liberal Fascist, in other words. And certainly, Woodrow Wilson played a central role in Jonah Goldberg’s book by that same name. But as Noemie Emery writes at the Weekly Standard, in article that’s the source of our headline, Wilson was but one of many late 19th and early 20th century “Progressives” who believed that America as the Founders had envisioned it had run its course, it was time to reboot the nation to suit their whims — and to punish the business owner, large and small:
With public resistance now unmistakable, Obama exploited a loophole in the Senate rules to negate the will of the country. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi thought it a good idea to provoke the crowds by any means possible, striding through the Capitol grounds with an enormous grin and a gavel the size of a Louisville slugger, surrounded by Black Caucus members who tried to replay the bridge scene at Selma and later charged the protesters with flinging racial slurs at them, which no one else ever seemed to have heard. Having been provoked, and then slandered, the protesters became even more angry. It’s no surprise that anger was key to the 2010 midterms, in which Democrats lost 63 House seats, and much of their chance to make any more mischief. Public opinion did count, after all.
“Sinclair Lewis’s 1920s never went away,” says Fred Siegel, citing Obama as the first American president to campaign against Main Street, in word, thought, and deed. There was “you didn’t build that!” said to every entrepreneur who imagined that his business had been his creation, and the comment on those clinging to guns and to God out of bitterness. But all that was just a prelude to the targeted attack on the middle class in his single and signature legislative creation. Last October, amid the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website, some six million Americans who had purchased their plans on the individual market were stunned to find out that their plans were being canceled, and the new ones would not only cost them hundreds or thousands more but in many cases cause them to lose their own doctors and enjoy a less comprehensive level of care.
Obama had reassured them again and again that if they liked their plans and their doctors, they would be able to keep them, but this proved inaccurate. For the first time in American history the cost of a massive social program would be concentrated on a small slice of the populace that was not rich, and in some instances, could not afford it. Those costs came in many different dimensions: Parents found they could not take sick children to the same hospitals they had used before. People with complex chronic conditions found that the teams of doctors who had worked together to treat them had been broken up. For the people who had been insured through the individual market the elites had little compassion. Cancer patients who took their complaints to the press (and to the Republicans) were “fact checked” and then viciously attacked by the Democrats, among them Harry Reid, who called them all liars. “We have to pass the bill, so that you can find out what’s in it,” Nancy Pelosi infamously said. People had finally found out and they were furious.
Definitely read the whole thing; as hinted by the reference above to him, Emery’s article was inspired by Fred Siegel’s excellent recent book, The Revolt Against the Masses; I interviewed Siegel back in February, tune in here to listen.
So how’s that dream of a Bigger-Than-Big Government working out these days? At the otherwise left-leaning New York Daily News, S.E. Cupp explores “What Obama’s Many Messes Really Mean,” including the latest debacle to blow up in the Lightworker’s face, the V.A. Scandal:
The oversight of millions of low-level bureaucrats with unnavigable chains-of-command and arcane protocols is the problem.
The outsourcing of sensitive government work to low-level contractors in Canada and elsewhere is the problem.
The sprawling and ever-expanding surveillance state that puts our most personal information in the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats is the problem.
And, yes, money is the problem, too, but not in the way Democrats insist. The VA itself reported more than $2 billion in waste and fraud, just in 2012. The inability to manage the money these bloated bureaucracies we already have is the problem.
Big-government bureaucracy is the problem, and Democrats unintentionally tell us that all the time. But don’t take my word for it.
“The point is, we are a big country,” says self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. “The VA sees six and a half million people a year. Are people going to be treated badly? Are some people going to die because of poor treatment in the VA? Yes, that is a tragedy and we have to get to the root of it.”
Well, I think he just did.
Exit Tweet: As Moe Lane writes, “This is the kind of backhand that uses the hand that wears the most rings. Because chipping a tooth is the goal:”
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) May 28, 2014