In the article “Fighting Bob vs. Silent Cal: The Conservtive Tradition from La Follette to Taft and Beyond” by Jeff Taylor attempts to make the argument that Ronald Reagan made a huge mistake of aligning himself with Calvin Coolidge and was closer to Robert La Follette. Taylor seems to ignore the difference between limited government and big government. He tries to align “Mr. Conservative” Robert Taft with La Follette on the basis that they were not for big business and Coolidge was. Taylor makes the argument that Coolidge veruss La Follette was the battle between croney centralized capitalism and the peoples capitalism. First, let’s go back to the Taft-La Follette connection. This is what the author himself has to say about it:
” La Follette was a preeminent “liberal” and “progressive” while Robert Taft was described as a “conservative” and “reactionary” by the press of his day. La Follette ran for president in 1924 with Socialist Party Socialist party, in U.S. history, political party formed to promote public control of the means of production and distribution. In 1898 the Social Democratic party was formed by a group led by Eugene V. Debs and Victor Berger. support while Taft condemned the New Deal and Fair Deal for being socialistic. La Follette was a leader of the Progressive Era and named his party after the movement that wanted to use government on behalf of the common people, while Taft rejected centralized, bureaucratic government.”
From Taylor’s own mouth, it seems that these two are complete opposite. Of course, the author blows if off by calling it “superficial analysis.”
Let us move past this and back to the point that Coolidge was in the hands of big business. From a glance Coolidge is very anti-union. He busted strikes while he was Governor and railed against the coal strikes during his time. This could be seen as pro-crony capitalism or anti-unions. He signed the Revenue Act of 1924 lowering personal income taxes but raising gift and estate taxes. This does not sound like pro-crony capitalism. In fact, gift and estate taxes often prevent crony capitalism. He did later sign the Revenue Act of 1926, which lowered the income tax again and some estate taxes. He was also an avid federalist, from Sobel’s book on Coolidge:
“As Governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge supported wages and hours legislation, opposed child labor, imposed economic controls during World War I, favored safety measures in factories, and even worker representation on corporate boards. Did he support these measures while president? No, because in the 1920s, such matters were considered the responsibilities of state and local governments.”
Now a brief glance at La Follette would show (besides what is above written by Taylor) that he had hardly anything in common with Reagan. He was progressive who supported social security, tariffs, and other progressive reforms.
So here is was distiguishes me from the author of this article. I cite evidence to why Calvin Coolidge was more like Reagan and La Follette is almost a complete opposite. I challenge Taylor to cite evidence that Coolidge was a support of crony capitalism. He cites Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan as current leaders that live up to the style of La Follette. I agree with him that the protectionist progressive Bucahanan is much like La Follette, but Republicans are not for free trade, as they should be. Ron Paul is for uninhibited free trade, which means without the government involvement. This is nothing like La Follette also.
If you do not believe me at the outrage of the asinine attempt at Republican lineage read it for yourself here.