“The Bully Pulpit,”
The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt,
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Writing this a few days after the 2016 election of a man who lacks even a trace of so many of the attributes of any president in my lifetime, I’m searching for anything that will give me some hope. As so often has been the case, returning to a history book read a year or two ago has provided a bit of rescue.
A little over a hundred years ago Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, was thrust into the presidency of a country in crisis. Elected to his own term after completing the term of the assassinated William McKinley, Roosevelt confronted a widening gap between the rich and the poor a struggling middle class, and a country dealing with scores of other serious problems stemming from the Industrial Revolution.
“Yet by the end of Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House, a mood of reform had swept the country, creating a new kind of presidency and a new vision of the relationship between the government and the people. A series of anti-trust suits had been won and legislation passed to regulate railroads, strengthen labor rights, curb political corruption, end corporate campaign contributions, impose limits on the working day, protect consumers from unsafe food and drugs, and conserve vast swaths of natural resources for the American people.”
An impressive list of achievements that helped America continue to be great. Those who supported those achievements were then called “Progressives.”
We will be vigilant and active while watching to see whether governance during the next four years will transcend the regrettable, bizarre and often insulting campaign tactics of the last eighteen months.
Will the changes be progressive or will they take us backward?