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Most libertarian US presidents

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sirmonty posted on Tue, Jan 27 2009 9:43 AM

Out of curiosity, who does Mises.org think are the 5 most libertarian presidents the US has ever had?

 

Obviously, none of them were 100%, but if you had to choose, who would they be?

 

EDIT:  Also, who do you feel are the top 5 least libertarian?

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Jefferson, Cleveland, Buchanan, Polk, Harding. It's a difficult question because there are very clear examples of anti-libertarian action (I mean, they're obviously statists to begin with). Least 5 - FDR, Lincoln, GWB, Adams, Wilson, LBJ.
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1, Coolidge:  Outside of prohibition the man did nothing wrong

2, Cleveland: Cut union benefits, lowered taxes and fought imperialism

3, Jefferson: The embargo pushes him back but outside of that, he embodied libertarian ideas.

4, Clinton: Surprise answer, enacted NAFTA, gave us welfare reform, cut spending, inflation was fairly limited, lowered taxes on a lot of small businesses with the Omnibus Bill in 1993.

5, Madison: He was a weakling at times and he gave into the warhawks but his overall philosophy and early writings gain him enough to make my top 5.

 

Least Libertarian

1, FDR: New deal was a disaster, did a lot to quicken our entrance to WW2, high taxes prolonged and exacerbated the depression, several unconstitutional policies came under the new deal, strongarmed the Supreme Court into following his agenda whether they believed it constitutional or not.

2, Wilson: Made speech against the government a federal crime.  No more need be said.

3, LBJ: Prolonged Vietnam, destroyed the black family and put a dent in overall American morality through entitlements like medicare and medicaid. 

4, Lincoln: Granted, once the South seceeded he had to keep them in the Union, but how he did it and what he could have done to prevent war(pay slaveowners for their slaves) would have saved us a large amount of money and lives.  Not to mention the war crimes that he comitted like the draft, and then on top of that how he turned the draft into a variance of the good ole boys system.

5, Obama: I don't know how everyone has put George W. Bush as less libertarian than him, he is worse than Bush on foreign policy (Libya, Afghanastan) and he is 10x worse than Bush on economics.  Debt has skyrocketed, it went up under W, but it has skyrocketed under the Bamster.  Inflation is going haywire, he is hyperregulating everything, he is pumping money to all of his friends without even vetting them about whether it may or may not be profitable for the taxpayers money(i.e. Solyndra).  Not to mention healthcare, the attempted passage of a cap and tax bill, and recently as today, there will be a tax on Christmas trees to promote the use of real ones.  We have a President that resorts to the Chicago way of doing things at every possible turn.

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Van Buren is in my mind, the most, if not the only ideologically pure of all the 'libertarian' US presidents. Other than Van Buren the presidents I am partial to are:

  1. Jackson - The man killed the bank! But he also killed the indians and favoured expansionist foreign policy.
  2. Cleveland - He's and honest man, he's an honest man, he's an honest man. (except for being a morgan shill when it came to the ICC)
  3. Coolidge - As LibertyStudent explained, he was the last of the free market presidents

But obviously Reagan takes the prize as the most libertarian president. As we all know, Reagan was a no nonsense libertarian, cutting taxes & spending, deregulating the entire economy, abolishing IP, ending the wars, ending prohibition, ending the fed, and establishing anarcho-capitalism in 1987!

 

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"Clinton: Surprise answer, enacted NAFTA"

 

So what is so libertarian about NAFTA?

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Why does everyone here shrug off the massacre of indigenous people as if it were an accident, even the poster with native Americans holding guns as their avatar?

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Not everyone, BP. Many people mentioned that as one of his bad qualities.

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I don't see him on anyone's bottom 5 is all I'm saying.

Anyway, as there are about 50 threads like this and I've said before, discussing libertarian presidents is like talking about which bird is the most fish-like.

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Anyway, as there are about 50 threads like this and I've said before, discussing libertarian presidents is like talking about which bird is the most fish-like.

I used to think this way...but these are good introductory posts.  And it's always good to have people work it out and reason things through on their own - it can help open up doors, and it's part of the interactive nature of a forum. 

And for those of us who are a bit more seasoned / educated  when we enter these  "101" type questions, we should do so with a bit of patience and mostly to help the newer person figure out for themself more "serious" (there are probably better words to use here, "productive" maybe?) inquiries - or help them see why they have the thought in the 1st place . 

I'm sure the LL's have the same types of questions come up all the time.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Answered (Not Verified) Joe replied on Sat, Nov 12 2011 6:51 PM
Suggested by Malachi

Penguins are fairly fish like birds.

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Suggested by JClarke1937

Everyone's saying Jefferson is in their top 5. I think you should research and reconside his guys because although he had a very libertarian philosophy, in practice (as president) he did not apply this philosophy. I love his philosophy, just not his execution as president. Also, i wouldn't include jackson because even houghhe fought the fed he was a warmonger and mass murderer of indians...just sayin. Lastly, i would definetly add Chester A. Arthur to the top 5 list

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Kakugo replied on Sat, Mar 31 2012 11:21 AM

There are only three presidents I can mention as good example of laissez faire and limited government: Van Buren, Coolidge and Cleveland.

Others like Jackson and Jefferson had some good points but failed terribly on others.

As for the worst I am surprised nobody  mentioned the easiest target together with both Roosevelts, Wilson and Lincoln: Richard Nixon. Creation of the EPA alone (allegedly he said "Let's stick this up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes it" while signing the papers) should put him on that list.

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xion replied on Fri, Sep 7 2012 9:50 PM

grover cleavland  and ronald reagan are the pnly remoetley libertarian presidents that i know of .I have not researched the others enough to know.

Government is not the solution to our problems Government is the problem .
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Reagan? Have you looked up Reagan's name on here?

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Five of the best:

1. Jefferson

2. Jackson

3. Cleveland

4. Harding

5. Coolidge

Five of the worst:

1. Lincoln

2. Teddy Roosevelt

3. Wilson

4. Il Duce...I mean FDR

5. Reagan

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Jefferson and Jackson screwed the Indians big time. And Jefferson always seemed to me like he was a hypocrite.

And Harding? Why?

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