One of the last presidents one would expect to be quoted on anything, yet historian Steven Hayward pulls up one on the Congress’ pathetic reputation and doubts about democracy:
In simple truth, I get discouraged sometimes about the stability of popular government. I come in contact with the abject surrender of public men to what appears to be about one-half of one percent of the voters to whom they look to their commission to public service. What the country needs more than anything else is a House and Senate for ten years which give at least as much thought to the welfare of the Republic as is given to individual candidates for re-election. Nothing so disheartens me as to have an extended conference with men in responsible places, hear them admit of the correctness of a policy or position, and then frankly say it is impossible to go through with the policy or maintain the position and be assured of re-election. I have concluded that I would vastly prefer a limited career with the consciousness of having done the right thing than to hold on to the constitutional limit by playing to the favor of those who do the fake work under our political system.
So, when our current situation discourages us (and that’s most of the time these days) and it seems like it couldn’t be worse, that maybe our system just doesn’t work anymore, remember that others were troubled by those same doubts, and yet things got better. I think that’s one of the great lessons of studying American History: that we’ve been through so much —and so much worse— yet always recovered and gone on to greater things. My friends on the far Right muttering about how “it’s just like 1860″ really need to stop, breathe deeply, and check in with reality.
But still… Harding??
PS: Steven Hayward is a great historian, perhaps most well known for his two-volume “Age of Reagan.” He’s recently joined Power Line as a welcome addition.
PPS: Okay, in all fairness to Warren G., whose likeness graces my mouse pad, in recent years I’ve come to suspect that, while no doubt mediocre, his reputation has suffered thanks to historians raised in the era of the New Deal who want to make all those nasty Republicans between Wilson and FDR look as bad as possible.
PPPS: Well, Hoover kind of deserves it, but for different reasons — like being too much like FDR.