Eleven Presidents: Promises vs. Results in Achieving Limited Government by Ivan Eland

Nov 22, 2017, 03:56 AM

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Calvin Coolidge wins the prize: "Eleven Presidents: Promises vs. Results in Achieving Limited Government" by Ivan Eland.

“Ivan Eland has done it again. In Eleven Presidents, he looks at the history of the presidency from an entirely new perspective. Along the way, this well-written and thoroughly researched book persuasively challenges the conventional wisdom at every turn. Even when readers disagree with Eland’s interpretations, he will make them think and ponder.” —David T. Beito, Professor of History, University of Alabama; author, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967

“Political conservatism may or may not be out of ideas as some of its adversaries claim, but sincere small-government advocates like Ivan Eland in Eleven Presidents are continuing to stimulate debate in original and highly interesting ways.” —Richard Shenkman, Founder and Publisher, History News Network

“‘All is not what it first appears to be in presidential history,’ as the excellent volume Eleven Presidents makes painfully clear. The book offers a devastating critique of Republican presidents and their ‘limited government hypocrisy.’ Beginning with Herbert Hoover, GOP presidents have expounded on the benefits of smaller government but expanded it nonetheless. (Dwight Eisenhower gets credit for being the one Republican president who kept his promises.) ‘Watch what they do, not what they say’ is a lesson to be learned from this insightful volume. Carefully comparing promises with results, Eland shows how GOP presidents, from Hoover to George W. Bush, have been Big Government Republicans, despite their rhetoric about ‘limited government.’ Eleven Presidents turns historical assessments of U.S. Presidents upside down—and makes for a fascinating read. Eland makes a good case that Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, normally ranked low in presidential polls that prize presidential ‘energy,’ were in fact two of our greatest presidents when judged by keeping their promises to limit government, both here and abroad. The lesson here is that neither major political party is committed to limited government in practice. While there are episodes of deregulation (under Jimmy Carter) or restrained spending (Eisenhower, Clinton), government grows inexorably. So, what is to be done? Eland states that the ‘continuing hypocrisy of promising limited government and then not delivering it should be penalized [by voters], not rewarded.’ Whether there is any public will to hold presidents accountable or not is then a serious question for readers to ponder.” —Jonathan J. Bean, Professor of History, Southern Illinois University

“Ivan Eland’s Eleven Presidents looks to be as indispensable as his last excellent book on the U.S. presidents, Recarving Rushmore. How well have American presidents since World War I done in keeping their promises to constrain government? Read this book!” —Ron Paul, former U.S. Congressman and candidate for U.S. President

“Whatever prospects lie ahead for limited government, the rule of law, and authentic Constitutionalism, Americans first need to know their history. Leviathan did not emerge by accident. Democrats and Republicans alike have built the welfare-warfare state over the past century. Even self-described ‘conservatives’ have been complicit. In a moment when labels seem to be losing their meaning and once-familiar categories have been upended, Americans find themselves facing urgent questions about the political, economic, and social conditions necessary to a free society. In his important and well-written book Eleven Presidents, Ivan Eland unmasks the pretensions of power in Washington, D.C., and invites us to take a fresh and honest look at deeds more than words, at policy more ...