The flip side of this thread, who would you vote to be the worst American, which is to say the American who has had the most negative effect on the nation’s image, people, welfare, etc… This is more of an imho, but I’ll post it here because debate is probable. In order to keep it from getting hopelessly out of hand in the first few posts, I’ll make one groundrule:
YOU CANNOT NOMINATE ANY LIVING PRESIDENT OR EX-PRESIDENT- I’m not saying that Bush or Clinton etc. aren’t terrible, just that we don’t 300 pages of Bush v. Clinton slamming. Otherwise you can nominate anybody, living or dead, president or otherwise, liberal or conservative, but please give a brief justification of your answer.
There are many who come to mind of course, but the two I’ll go with are:
Joe McCarthy- so obvious that I almost added him to the exclusions- it’s almost more of a debate as to who was the “Second Worst” American. His literal destruction of lives and careers to advance not even his own cause so much as himself, his blatant lying and hypocrisy, his persecution of people’s private lives while he himself was an alcoholic and probably a closet-case, his use of his equally evil right-hand buttboy Roy Cohn [who persecuted both Jews and gays even though he was both] to rig the trial of Ethel Rosenberg to ensure the death penalty (she arguably deserved a prison sentence, but that’s all- her husband was guilty but that there’s no unperjured evidence that she was involved) all lent his very name to denote a Sejanus like reign of terror devoid of any “decency”.
Jefferson Davis- I do not believe that owning slaves or even being a pro slavery advocate necessarily made a man evil, but Davis has other considerations, most rooted in his stubborness and arrogance. His refusal, even after July 1863 when it was clear to anyone but a madman that the Confederacy could not win the war, to even consider treaty talks that involved emancipation cost thousands of his countrymen on both sides their lives. His order to kill any black soldier found in a Federal uniform led not only to wanton murder but to the horrors of Andersonville. His orders to Johnston to keep fighting after Lee’s surrender was insane (luckily Johnston had the good sense to send him a polite “and the Dapple Grey you rode in on” and surrender [several times, but that’s another story]). His own cowardly flight (note: I am aware that he did not don a woman’s dress to avoid capture) rather than biting the bullet like Lee (who did not know that he would ride away from Appomattox Courthouse a free man) did- he would have had so much more dignity and respect in history had he surrendered himself rather than try to break for Cuba. His aristocratic arrogance (the man took slave servants to Westpoint) shot his own cause in the foot as he wouldn’t advance one of the most brilliant generals in history (N.B. Forrest) due to the man’s indigent birth. I just can’t stand him (or even the fact that Beauvoir has a “Presidential Library”).