A week or so ago some people on the political right had a stroke when videos surfaced of Newt Gingrich stating that FDR was the greatest president of the 20th Century.
There’s no doubt in my mind (or on the mind of any honest historian) that Ronald Reagan’s policies helped bring an end to the U.S.S.R., and his tax cuts had a wonderfully positive impact on economic growth, lifting the nation out of malaise.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the country in its defeat of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. I won’t argue the case here – but it could be argued that FDR’s war success was bigger than Reagan’s. FDR’s domestic policies broke the damn when it came to government spending and the size of government and that damn has never been repaired. Not even Reagan checked the growth of government.
What Reagan ushered in – his “revolution” – was far more just a beginning. Republicans and conservatives needed to take the mantle from him and keep moving forward. They didn’t. The current government behemoth is the largest in our history and the $15 trillion in debt doesn’t even count unfunded entitlement liabilities and government debt at the state and local level.
What FDR set up domestically has been built upon, entrenched, and fattened up to such an extent it’ll take more than one right minded president to correct. Reagan left office 23 years ago – and his party has utterly failed to build upon what he had only started.
I’d say that gives the nod to FDR – whose work was, unfortunately, more successful that Reagan by far. FDR’s accomplishments were greater. Like it or not – and I don’t like it – but they were.
And to the silly suggestion that Newt Gingrich prefers the policies and legacy of FDR to Reagan, I say that that’s just one more statement based upon laziness induced ignorance.
©John Francis Biver