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lonesomepoint

lonesomepoint

The High Tide of American Conservatism: Davis, Coolidge, and the 1924 Election - Garland S. Tucker III Other reviewers have observed that this book is written by an amateur historian with little or no writing experience, and is somewhat poorly edited. This is true, although the editing isn't that bad.

Still, this is a valuable contribution to 1920s history and essential reading if you're not familiar with John W. Davis.

Essentially, Davis was a Jeffersonian Democrat stalwart who believed in maximum individual freedom and minimal government interference. This made him, politically, similar or identical to Calvin Coolidge in every important way except on tariffs (Davis opposed them while Coolidge and the Republicans supported them). Therefore, the 1924 presidential campaign was between two conservative candidates, and Davis lost mainly because Coolidge was extremely popular personally and politically; the American people had no interest in replacing Coolidge. After Franklin Roosevelt became president and began the New Deal, Davis opposed the New Deal strenuously and continually (for which the Roosevelt administration considered him its enemy). His public statements against New Deal government intervention are brilliant, leaving no doubt that Davis is a now-forgotten conservative champion.

As the author hints a few times, Davis was one of those Democrats who would probably be a conservative Republican today and certainly would find no place in the modern Democrat party.

Observations about the author: He lets the story of Davis and the 1924 election tell itself, and says nothing about his own political beliefs until the afterword (and then only in relative generalizations about the size of government); but besides that his admiration for both Davis and Coolidge makes his political beliefs obvious enough, his tone hints at his likely orientation within the ideological spectrum of the Republican party. Tucker (a)speaks approvingly of limited government; (b)is comfortable with Wall Street and big business; (c)displays a strongly moral viewpoint by explicitly saying the excessive speculation that caused the 1929 crash was simple greed and it happens in the final stages of every bull market (which, being an investment banker, I guess he's in a position to observe). I conclude that Tucker is Jeffersonian but no libertarian; he probably comes from the strain of conservative thought that used to be called Whiggism (basically the predecessor of the Republicans before the Civil War) and later converged with the old Jeffersonian element of the Democrats to form modern conservatism.