Friday, August 10, 2012

Herbert Hoover, the "Independent progressive" in Woodrow Wilson's administration

In the "Mining and Scientific Press", March 20th, 1920 a section titled "Two Famous Letters From Mr. Hoover", this a paragraph from the second letter: (page 423)
First I am an independent progressive in the issues before us today. I think that at this time the issues before the country transcend partisanship. It is well known that I was a Progressive Republican before the war and, I think rightly, a non-partisan during my war service. The issues confronting us are new and the alignment upon them has not yet been made by the great parties. I still object as much to the reactionary group in the Republican party as I do to the radical group in the Democratic party.

The reactionary group? He means the conservatives, naturally. Progressives, communists, and socialists all use this word as a demonizing one. They do it to this day. Hoover also engaged in this. He wasn't just a progressive in name only. Even while President, Mr. Hoover would denounce the "reactionaries" who were urging him to do less.

And here he is:

Standing with his fellow progressives. There's a larger version, this comes from The National Archives.

The narrative that Hoover was a "do nothing" president (Unlike Coolidge, who absolutely was a "do nothing" president and look how good the economy was!) requires that information like this be forgotten.

There's probably a good argument to be made that post-New Deal/Great Depression, Hoover learned his lesson and did become the conservative that most modern progressives claim him to be. Because much of it is behind the scenes stuff, it becomes harder to track. But one can make reasonable assumptions by simply looking at the Hoover Institute. What Hoover Institute is today, it really didn't become that until the mid 50's. It had an evolution from a library to a center for research to a full blown think tank. The 1959 Mission Statement that's up on Wiki(which is repeated on the Institute's website) is only a clip, but it does sound remarkably different than the Hoover that was lamenting reactionaries, encouraging planning, and calling for government stimulus.

It is possible, even likely, that America could quit repeating the mistake of progressivism if the record would be allowed to be correct itself on it's own without revisionists claiming obvious falsehoods to be true.

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