The other evening I was watching a news show where an author was being interviewed regarding a recent book she published entitled, “Coolidge.” Amity Shlaes sees President Calvin Coolidge as “a rare kind of hero: a minimalist president, an economic general of budgeting and tax cuts.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/02/10/amity-shlaes-tells-the-story-of-calvin-coolidge-another-forgotten-man/)
He was called “Silent Cal” primarily because he was short on words. One of his many famous quotes sums up his Silent Cal moniker: “I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm.” Make sure you read that quote correctly! Now try these two similar quotes: “If you don't say anything, you won't be called on to repeat it.” And, “You can't know too much, but you can say too much.”
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was born in Vermont in 1873, eventually rising to be Vice President of the United States in 1920 on the ticket with Warren G. Harding. Coolidge ascended to the presidency when Harding passed away in 1923. Coolidge served as our 30th president, returning to private life in 1929.
Of all the presidents in the 20th Century, Coolidge was clearly the most conservative of them all. This quote says volumes about his philosophical approach to government and the people: “I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.” I like this guy!
Though Coolidge was not an outwardly religious man (typical for his time), he made some telling remarks about the importance of faith and religious beliefs which bears reflection: “Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in our world: One rests on righteousness, and the other on force. One appeals to reason, and the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in the republic; the other is represented by despotism.” Pretty well sums up our current governmental situation.
On this same religious theme, Coolidge opines, “It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist. Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves. We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love. Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is a part of an unending plan.” Do you see your work as having eternal importance?
“We do not need more intellectual power; we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge; we need more character. We do not need more government; we need more culture. We do not need more law; we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen; we need more of the things that are unseen” Wow! Themes right from Scripture.
“It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.” That will preach!
President Coolidge was determined to stay true to his convictions of reducing the size of government – and he did! He is the only president in more than a hundred years to successfully reduce the size of the federal government. Hallelujah! “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.” I really like this guy!
“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” Congress, are you paying attention?
“The Constitution is the sole source and guaranty of national freedom.”
“I believe in the American Constitution. I favor the American system of individual enterprise, and I am opposed to any general extension of government ownership, and control. I believe not only in advocating economy in public expenditure, but in its practical application and actual accomplishment. I believe in a reduction and reform of taxation, and shall continue my efforts in that direction.” Coolidge didn’t just reduce spending – he cut taxes!
“There is only one form of political strategy in which I have any confidence, and that is to try to do the right thing and sometimes be able to succeed.” He’s humble, too.
“I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.” He really gets it!
“What we need is not more Federal government, but better local government.” I’ll vote for that!
In your life have you ever heard any politician, let alone a president, say such things? How utterly refreshing!