Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My ranking of the presidents

George Washington often a top choice on best president lists,
with Abraham Lincoln usually ranking in the second spot.
The rest of  such lists are merely subjective,
usually being influenced by political affiliations.
The following is a list of presidents ranked from best to worse.   

Here are the great presidents.

1. George Washington (no party) for keeping the country together, and creating a humble executive.  The worse thing he did was sign the Fugitive Slate Act of 1793, which gave the right to a slave owner to recover an escaped slave (an ardent violation of natural rights). However, considering we probably wouldn't have a nation were it not for him, we will forgive him for this and still rank him #1 forever and ever Amen.

2. Abraham Lincoln (Republican) for preserving the union and ending slavery. Nothing else he did could add to nor take away from these stunning achievements, not even the fact that he was an enemy of state's rights.

3. Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican) for protecting state rights and preserving a limited government by repealing many federal taxes and opposing government debt. We must also hail him for the brilliant Louisiana Purchase, which is perhaps one of the greatest bargains in all of world history. Of course his greatest fame came from his actions before becoming president, mainly for writing the Declaration of Independence. He might also gain respect for his making up with John Adams and writing many letters about the true intentions of the founding fathers.

4 .Martin Van Buren:  (Democrat) Some say he was the first forgettable president based on his inability to get the U.S. out of the depression caused by the panic of 1837.  Some say the depression was the result of banks offering easy credit with no central regulation, and that all he had to do was create regulations to end it. However, I believe this is a reason to rank him high on this list.  He was the first president to have a laissez-faire approach to government, and therefore refused to use the depression as a reason to increase the central government at the expense of personal liberties.  This laissez-faire approach set a precedent that was followed by most presidents for the next 90 years.  He should also get credit for keeping us out of war with Britain as tensions grew along the border between New York and Canada.  However, despite these successes, the propaganda tossed out by the Whigs won the day.  Not helping matters was that he was also known for living an extravagant lifestyle, making him an easy scapegoat.  He was easily defeated by William Henry Harrison in 1841. Ironically, to defeat him, the Whigs had to nominate a democrat for Vice President. So, when Harrison died shortly into his term, the laissez-faire democrats were back in power anyway.

5. Calvin Coolidge (Republican) for continuing the policies of Warren G. Harding and becoming the only president to accomplish the trifecta of cutting both individual and corporate taxes, limiting regulations on private business, and cutting spending in order to create an environment of economic prosperity that created the environment that made both the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring 20s possible.

6. Ronald Reagan (Republican) for having the nerve to cut taxes across the board, and limiting regulations on private business, to lift a faltering economy.  He may also receive credit for putting pressure on the Soviet Union to end the Cold War, and for creating confidence that gave rebirth to the notion of American Exceptionalism.

7. Grover Cleveland (Democrat) for his love and devotion to the Constitution, for refusing to sign any law that violated Constitutional restraint and impeded upon natural rights, for supporting low tariffs that benefited businesses, for reducing taxes, for having the courage to fight government corruption and fighting government corruption, and for doing all of this despite the fact that doing the opposite would have paid dividends as far as his political career and legacy were concerned. He should also be hailed for his quote, "People support the government, the government should not support the people."

8. John Tyler: (Whig, Democrat, Independent) He is often thought of as one of the worse presidents. However, according to the Daily Caller, "Short of George Washington, Tyler is perhaps the greatest presidents in American history. Tyler used his veto power the way Washington intended, as a check on unconstitutional legislation. He vetoed the re-incorporation of a central banking system, as well as bills involving internal improvements and a protective tariff. The Whigs expelled him from the party for “gasp!” following the Constitution. His administration laid the groundwork for the settlement of the Oregon dispute with Great Britain and brought Texas into the Union."    He is also significant for vetoing the Third Bank twice, vetoing the tariff bill, ending the Second Seminole War, holding back federal troops in Dorr Rebellion, establishing trade with China, and establishing the role of the Vice President while fending off Henry Clay. Not good was that he annexed Texas despite the fear of free states that Texas would be a slave state.  This lead to a war with Mexico -- although it also ultimately lead to the expansion of the U.S., which as good.

9.  Zachary Taylor: (Whig) He opposed the compromise of 1850. This can be perceived as good because, after Zachary Taylor died in 1850, Milford Fillmore would sign the bill, ultimately prolonging slavery as an institution in the U.S. The bill also strengthened the fugitive slave law, which was an ardent violation of justice.  Taylor opposed all this: He would not have signed the bill.  It also should be known here that the Whigs were ardent supporters of slavery, so Taylor opposed his own party on this.  So he went up against his own party on this issue, and for this we should give him credit. This may also have been why he was killed.

10. Dwight David Eisenhower (Republican) for creating an era of economic stability and peace that allowed the U.S. to emerge as a world superpower, for standing firm against the Soviet Union, and for his warnings against deficit spending. While it was a huge government project, his championing for the building of an interstate highway system was a good federal program.

11. John F. Kennedy (Democrat) for defeating a popular republican vice president (Richard Nixon) and being more conservative than he was, for not being afraid to deal with communism in both Cuba and Vietnam, for not blaming his predecessor for the Bay of Pigs failure (Eisenhower designed the plan), for cutting taxes in order to spawn economic prosperity during 1960s, and for championing for flights to the moon and back, all of which gave Americans reason to be proud once again. He also should be given credit for his quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."  His liberal social views are what keep him out of the top ten. 

12. James Monroe (Republican) for a Monroe Doctrine that warned European nations about coming to the new world and prevented the U.S. from becoming entangled in European affairs for the next century. Also for his opposition to excessive government spending and not being afraid to veto popular bills.

13. Andrew Jackson (Democrat) He can be considered a great for refusing to allow South Carolina to leave the union, and threatening military action if it tried. He can be considered great for believing that American greatness comes from the people and not from government.  He can be considered great for cutting federal spending, eliminating internal taxes, and reducing the national debt. He must also gain credit for his constant warnings that government encroachment would lead to many of the problems that are occurring today as a result of government encroachment (mainly a loss of personal liberties, or natural rights).  He did not believe the government should intrude in the lives of private individuals.  Some like to move him down in rankings for his battle with the Indians, but at the time his actions were popular because various Indian Tribes threatened American settlements.

14.  James Madison (Democratic-Republican) He can be considered great for signing the Non-Intercourse Act which allowed the U.S. to trade with all nations except France and Britain, and the Macon's Bill #2 that allowed the U.S. to trade with any nation that worked to protect American shipping interests (all nations except Britain agreed).  He can be considered great for leading the country through the War of 1812 to stop British soldiers from harassing American ships and impressing soldiers. He can be considered bad for creating the Second Bank of the United States.  He is best known for what he did prior to becoming president, which was being one of the key authors of the Federalist Papers and Bill of Rights.

15. Harry S. Truman (Democrat) for having the courage save millions of young lives by dropping Fat Man and Little Boy on Hiroshima, for the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe, and for standing firm against the threat of communism.

16. James K. Polk (Democrat) for being a Jacksonian president (Manifest Destiny) and expanding the country all the way to the Mexican border by defeating and forcing them to cede both New Mexico and California to the U.S in exchange for $15 million in cash, for avoiding war with Britain by encouraging them to agree with creating a border at the 49th parallel, except for the southern tip of Vancouver, in 1846, and for keeping his campaign pledge of being a one term president despite pleas for him to run again (good thing he didn't, because he died shortly after his term ended).

The next group of presidents is generally considered as good or bad, depending on how you look at what they did in office. They all did some good things, but offset them with some bad things. 

17. George W. Bush (Republican) He failed to reign in spending, and in fact allowed it to soar, but he did cut taxes to allow the economy to expand, he did make excellent Supreme Court nominees, and he responded heroically to 911. Another of his failures was to stop the influx of illegal immigrants and to protect and defend the borders. By failing to veto any spending bills placed on his desk, the national debt skyrocketed to unprecedented levels.

18.  Ulysses S. Grant (republican) He rode his popularity following his Civil War successes into the office of the president.  He is usually considered an unsuccessful president due to too many scandals.  However, that's what the propaganda says.  If we go by his attempts to prevent the nation from getting into wars, and ability to preserve liberties, he deserves a higher ranking than he often gets.  He vetoed the Inflation Bill of 1874, he cut taxes, he lowered debt, he fired 2,248 government employees, he moved the country toward a de facto gold standard, he signed the Specie Payment Resumption Act and avoided war with Spain/ Ciuba despite Virginius Affair, and signed the Treaty of Washington.  He should also gain more respect simply because he supported equal rights for blacks and native Americans by supporting the 15th Amendment. Still, bringing down his presidency are all the scandals, plus his creation of the Office of Solicitor General, and the fact that he left reconstruction violence problems to state militias instead of using the army.  He also suspended habeas corpus (the right to seek relief from unlawful imprisonment) by signing the Ku Klux Klan Act in 1871

19.  John Adams (Federalist) We are going to give him credit for avoiding war with France despite his own personal desires to go to war with them. By avoiding war and not advancing his own political agenda, he took serious criticism within his own party, particularly from Hamilton Federalists.  It may have been for this reason that he lost the 1800 electionand and the Midnight Judges.  One of these midnight judges was John Marshall, who was the first activist judge who used his position to advance an agenda at the expense of personal liberty.

20.  Chester A. Arthur (Republican) The spoils system allowed elected officials to award those who supported their campaign with the best government jobs. Even though his political career benefited from this, Arthur ended it by signing the Pendleton Act in 1883. The new law required government officials to be hired based on merit instead of political affiliation. He also lowered tariffs, which are essentially taxes on imported goods.  He pushed for the International Meridian Conference, which established the Greenrich Meridian as an international standard for zero degrees longitude.  He signed into law in 1882 the Edmunds Act, which was an anti-Mormon bill that made polygamy illegal.  The Act was unconstitutional because it violates the natural right to choose who you marry. He also signed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which prohibited Chinese laborers from immigrating to the U.S. The act was renewed in 1892, made permanent in 1902, and eventually repealed with the Magnuson Act in 1943. 

21. Franklin Deleno Roosevelt (Democrat) He could easily be hailed as one of the best presidents due to his patriotism in war time and his ability to inspire through his speaking skills during the Great Depression and ability to lead during WWII.  However, he could just as easily be hailed as a bad president for putting his own personal political ambitions before the Constitution he was bound to protect and defend.  He could be hailed as great for creating the FDIC for protecting money invested in banks and restoring confidence in the banking system.  He could be considered great for creating a social security program to assure that the elderly and sick would be cared for.  However, at the same time. we could rank him as a bad president for using the troubles of the nation as an excuse to ignore the constitution to push forth programs that benefited a few at the expense of the majority.  And that is why we rank him here. 

22. Teddy Roosevelt (Republican) for carrying "A Big Stick" and breaking up trusts that infringed on individual liberties, and for his defense and foreign policy views. He moves down the list because he was a progressive, big government president who supported high taxation, and government intervention into commerce. Bad is that he increased tariffs, and pushed for an income tax. Terrible is that he created the Department of Commerce and Labor, which set a precedence for future presidents to likewise create such departments.  This is bad because these departments have the power to make regulations without the approval of Congress, and thereby have the ability to take away liberties. 

23. Bill Clinton (Democrat) He can be considered great for putting his nation before his political aspirations and agreeing to sign on to republican bills to cut taxes, reduce capital gains, and welfare reform. Such actions allowed for the economy to stay robust during most of his terms in office. He can be considered great for expanding free trade.  He can be considered a poor president for his lack of leadership in foreign affairs.  He can be considered as a poor president on social issues, such as nominating liberal judges to courts.  He can be considered great for supporting the gay community although opposing gay marriage.  He can be considered a bad president not for having sexual relations while in office, but for lying about it when he was caught.  

24. Warren G. Harding (Republican) for succeeding in cutting spending by 40 percent, and signed a much needed tax cut that helped to lead the country into the greatest period of economic expansion in history at that time. He was the only president to succeed at both cutting taxes and reigning in spending. Unfortunately, scandals lead to his downfall, and perhaps the stress that lead to his early death.

25. James Buchanan (Democrat)  The fifteenth president failed to stand up against the spread of slavery, and the  block of states that would become the Confederacy. However, unlike Abraham Lincoln (the man who succeeded him) he succeeded at avoiding war. He also favored low taxes and low tariffs in an effort to stimulate the economy, Many consider him a failed president, although he really wasn't. Yet the slavery issue was too big a scar on his legacy to rank him higher than this. 

26. John Quincy Adams (Federalist) The son of John Adams, he was literally groomed for the presidency but failed to accomplish anything once elected.  He was good because he did not allow the U.S. to become involved in the affairs of other nations.  He said that America should not go abroad "in search of monsters to destroy." Bad is he supported Henry Clay's American system.  It called for high tariffs that disadvantaged the poor, who were now forced to pay higher prices.  It called for high western land prices to discourage people from leaving eastern states in favor of western states.  This also worked to the disadvantage to the poor who could not afford the higher land prices. The bill favored one group at the expense of another, and was therefore unconstitutional.  He also signed the Tariff Act of 1828, which disadvantages the poor, especially in western states, who could not afford the high prices of imported goods.

27.  Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) Good is that he ended reconstruction and withdrew federal troops. He defended the rights of blacks who were being oppressed in the South. He ended the spoils system and defended the gold standard. Good is that he vetoed the inflationary Bland-Allison Act.  Bad is he used federal troops to murder 70 striking workers. Bad is that he banned the sale of alcohol at Army forts.

28.  William McKinley (Republican)  He lead over the U.S. during the Spanish-American War.  Bad is he sent federal troops to end the Boxer Rebellion, a Chinese uprising in northern China against western and Japanese influence there. He also kept federal troops out of the south. Bad is he signed onto a high tariff bill. Bad is he failed to choose his own vice president, and allowed his fellow republicans to nominate Teddy Roosevelt at the convention. Good is he proved America could be a influence upon the world scene, setting the state for an American Superpower.

29.  William Howard Taft (Republican) He supported peaceful free trade treaties.  But, he signed on to the Payne Aldrich Tariff Act.  He also supported the 16th amendment, which allowed the government to collect taxes on income.

30.  George H. W. Bush (Republican)  Good is he was a nice guy. He involved the U.S. in a popular Gulf War, and gave the military the authority to do its job and win fast.  Okay, some government is needed.  So his Clean Air Act noble.  Bad is he reneged on his popular vow, "Read my lips: no new taxes." He was too willing to negotiate with democrats, giving them too much of what they wanted.  Of course we must keep in mind he was working with a democratically controlled Congress.  Still, his reneging on his no tax pledge is probably what cost him re-election in 1992.

31.  Gerald R. Ford (Republican)  He was the only president never elected.  He was chosen to replace Spiro Agnew as vice president by Richard Nixon.  He then became president when Nixon resigned.  He therefore is the only president never to be elected.  He did some good things, such as the Tax Reduction Act of 1975.  He urged the reduction of domestic oil price controls and refused to bail out a bankrupt New York City.  He also advocated the Human Rights Watch, a non governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Bad is that he encouraged every American to be vaccinated for H1N1, and this ended up being a deadly mistake.  The Education for Handicapped Children Act essentially forced schools to provide an education for handicapped children and give them one free meal a day.  It surely sounds like a nice act, but it violates personal liberties by forcing schools to act in a certain way.  It basically doesn't force schools to do anything, but refusal to participate would result in reduced. The was an early attempt by progressives to negative incentives as a way to move forth their agenda. It was also evidence of Ford being a RINO, a Republican In Name Only.

The following presidents were not in office long enough to be considered good or great or bad or anything other than just spot fillers.

32.  William Henry Harrison (Whig) Many people have him as one of the worse presidents, but this is merely due to the fact he died of pneumonia 30 days into his term.  I think this is not enough time to judge him by, and therefore I rank him right here in the middle of my rankings.  He was neither a great nor one of the worse presidents. He was, in essence, just an average president. This is why I'm ranking him right here in the middle.

33.  James A. Garfield (republican) Like William Henry Harrison, he was not in office long enough to truly judge.  He was shot by an assassin's bullet and died three months later at the White House due to an infection that set in, probably due to his doctors not wearing gloves when they operated on him.

The following are generally considered poor presidents for the reasons noted.

34.  Millard Fillmore (Whig) He backed the compromise of 1850 that stopped southern states from seceding, but allowed slavery to spread. The compromise also strengthened the fugitive slave law, which was an ardent violation of justice.

35.  Benjamin Harrison (Republican) He did nothing good except have electricity installed in the White House. He signed the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 because he was in favor of restricting international trade to the benefit of American businesses and jobs from foreign intervention.  He supported the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.  This, coupled with the McKinley Tariff Act, would lead to the depression inherited by Grover Cleveland. He also signed onto the Sherman Anti-Trust Act that gave the government too much power over business activity.  He appointed Teddy Roosevelt to the U.S. Civil Service, who would prove to be a thorn in his side and would go on to become the first progressive president.

36.  Herbert Hoover (Republican) Calvin Coolidge actually opposed Hoover following him into the office of the president, even though he was also a republican.  The reason was because he believed Hoover was too progressive.  And he was right.  When the economy started to spiral out of control, he worsened by signing into law bills that raised tariffs and regulations on businesses, making it harder for them to stay in business.  It was his progressive policies, and not capitalism, that lead to the Great Depression.

37.  Richard Nixon (Republican) Watergate dragged him down and doomed his political career.  But even before that he was one of the more progressive republican presidents of all time.

38.  Andrew Johnson (Republican) He has traditionally been judged as a terrible president, and this may be true because, as a democrat, he had essentially no clout over a republican Congress. However, he did have some good ideas. For one thing, he was opposed to high taxes and regulations that would hurt the common man. He was adamantly opposed to Whigs who championed for higher taxes and tariffs to pay for roads and other infrastructure improvements. Even when a spending bill would have benefited his own district and his political career, he opposed it as any good politician would. He was strongly anti-government, and so if he was only given a chance, he very likely would have been a good president. Yet, with no clout, he had no power. He was therefore rather ineffective. Still, he did not hurt the office as later progressive presidents would, so we cannot rank him lower on this list.

39.  Franklin Pierce (Democrat) He tried to avoid a Civil War.  He reduced the national debt. He refused to sign onto any bill that would compromise the slavery industry.  He angered northern voters because he hinted at adding southern slave states. His signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act that lead to Bleeding Kansas. Kansas was a free state, and this act reversed that.  It enraged northern voters. The act also made it so white male voters could choose whether their state was a slave or free state.  So potential voters from the north and south were sent to Kansas to influence the vote, and this was termed "Bleeding Kansas." The Act was a betrayal to the north, and is often considered a prelude of the Civil War.

40.  Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat)  Nothing he did was good unless you consider advancing the progressive agenda and the scope and size of the federal government at the expense of personal liberties as good.  Oh, and he also failed to be a leader during the Vietnam War.  This allowed anti-war political activists to control it until there was no way it could be won.  This set the stage for America losing its first war.

41:  Barack Obama (Democrat) Even though it never had majority support, he pushed his healthcare reform through Congress.  The result was that, for the first time ever, Americans had to buy something (in this case healthcare) in order to be citizens.  Failure to comply with this state demand means you will be punished with higher taxes.  Unable to get his other unpopular agenda items through Congress, he bypassed them with executive action, setting a precedence for future presidents to likewise disrespect the law of the land to advance an unpopular agenda. He likewise used his pen to change Obamacare over eight times without going through Congress.  His administration was also embittered in an array of scandals, such as the Benghazi cover-up, Operation Fast and Furious, VA Scandal, lying to get Obamacare passed, and IRS targeting Obama's enemies. His ending of the War in Iraq created a breeding ground for a terrorist group worse that Al Qaeda to develop: ISIS.  He failed to act to the horrible acts performed by ISIS, such as beheading of American journalists.  He negotiated with Iran, the enemy of our ally Israel, thus setting the table for them to develop nuclear weapons.  He talked poorly of Christians while doing the opposite of Muslims.  He also went around the world apologizing for the U.S., as though we were the cause of the world's problems, as opposed to the arbiters of good. He did nothing good. In fact, he did so much damage to the office of the president that it's impossible to list them all here.

42. Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) He got the U.S. involved in a war we should not have been in, and he created a peace treaty to end that war that ultimately lead to WWII.  He created a ministry of propaganda that allowed the state to arrest and imprison people for speaking out against the government.  He was the first president to speak poorly of the constitution, believing it was a living document that should change to meet the demands of modern generations.  He made the government -- the state -- more powerful, thus setting the stage for future presidents to fundamentally transform America from capitalism to socialism.

43.  Jimmy Carter (Democrat) Nothing he did was good either.  He was another progressive president who attempted, although failed, to advance the progressive agenda.  In fact, he was such a horrible President he couldn't even advance the liberal agenda. His lack of leadership in Iran allowed the overthrow of dictators in Iran who were allied with the United States. His failure to stop radicals from taking over Iran is responsible for many of the problems that have occurred in the Middle East since that time. It should be noted here he was a great man, but a very poor president.

44.  Surely you're thinking there were 44 presidents.  You would be wrong.  Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms, so he is usually counted twice.  We are not going to list him twice here, and so we end up with this extra space.

Further Reading: