George W. Bush: Wilsonian Liberal

More Guns and Butter

If constitutional liberties are as old as the republic itself  (older if you include the tradition of English common law), violations of those liberties are just as old.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson threw their political opponents in jail, Andrew Jackson pursued a policy of genocide against this continent’s original inhabitants, and Abraham Lincoln unleashed a wave of terrorism on innocent civilians that would make Osama bin Laden blush.  The closest precedent to the hysteria currently gripping our nation, however, can be found in the second administration of Woodrow Wilson (1917-21).  In shaping the American understanding of foreign policy, Wilson was probably the most important president of the 20th century.  His influence has become so pervasive in establishment circles that, as we enter a new century, it passes for bipartisan wisdom.  This fact has had disastrous implications both for America’s role in the world and for life within our own borders.

Many regard Theodore Roosevelt as the father of American imperialism.  Roosevelt, however, was a throwback to the 19th century.  If he wished to extend the American empire, it was for fairly crass political and economic reasons.  In contrast, Wilson was a Puritan ideologue who envisioned an ideal world order.  The prospects for a noninterventionist foreign policy had been severely damaged by William Howard Taft’s...

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