Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House (1995–1999), recently called President Obama “the most radical administration in American history.”
Gingrich may have been a history professor, but his remark made me wonder how far back his historical memory goes. Lyndon Johnson was more “radical” than Obama: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Immigration Act of 1965 (doubling immigration between 1965 and 1970), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (for the first time, large amounts of federal money went to public schools), he set up the the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, and last but not least, established Medicare and Medicaid.
And Franklin Roosevelt was more “radical” than Obama and Johnson put together.
In your opinion, whose was the most radical administration in American history?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the most radical. His presence in office fundamentally altered the role of the federal government and its relationship with citizen’s lives. Before him, there was little if any social safety net.
Well, since a lot of the good choices have been taken, what about Jefferson? He came in under the premise of small government with a light touch, non-expansionist (i.e. not expanding US territory beyond what we already had), but during his administration he increased both the size and power of the federal government and also expanded our territory by something like a quarter. That was a pretty radical departure.
The only other one I can think of (who hasn’t been named) is perhaps Andrew Jackson, but, really, I think that main contenders are FDR, Johnson and Teddy.
My picks as well. I’m going with “radical” as operating outside expectations and precedent and being a polarizing force.
[li]Trashed the White House with the mob he invited to celebrate his first inauguration party[/li][li]Started the spoils system in appointments[/li][li]Repeatedly called for the aboliton of the Electorial College[/li][li]Trail of Tears: As close as the US has come to genocide. While Jackson doesn’t deserve all the blame for it, he’s certainly deserves quite a bit.[/li][li]Nickname was “King Mob” for his pandering to the crowd, after the failed assasination attempt he even gained a sort of “divinely protected” aspect. W. had fewer people thinking he was appointed by God than Jackson did.[/li][/ul]FDR: How many presidents have amendments added to the Constitution just to prevent someone from duplicating their achievements?
I wouldn’t count Washington either. It’s hard to place him since by default everything he did was precedent. Since he’s the baseline for presidential behaviour you can’t really be radical except by not being like him.
I gotta vote for Lincoln as well.
He didn’t buckle down when the US wanted to split itself, he rolled up his sleeves, and we went off to war with ourselves. That’s pretty radical right there, Civil war and all. Not to mention dropping the Emancipation Proclamation out there in order to keep the Union going with a huge moral stance on its cause then.