What is The Coolidge Project?
Our nation has been transformed over the past few decades. America has transitioned from the bastion of capitalism, free trade, individual liberty, and civic engagement into a disunion where riots are commonplace, politicians act as celebrities (and celebrities act as politicians), socialism is main stream, and liberty takes a back seat to the specter of the "public good." At some point, we need to ask ourselves how we reached this state of affairs. It seems at though we have lost our ethos and our nerve.
The only term which I can use to identify our era is "quarrelsome." It seems as though everyone is simply quarreling with everyone else about every possible matter of fact or opinion. Do not take this as though I am wagging a finger at the rest of you. I am certainly responsible for a significant share of the quarreling. I feel that I hit a breaking point in 2016, however. In 2016, we saw a new paradigm rise to the surface that had always been there, yet we tended to avoid it.
We finally experienced our rage.
You may be thinking "well, here he goes blaming Trump." This could not be further from the truth. We as a people created, fed, and fed off of the rage that plagues us today. We as a people propagated the disease of rage. This problem has always been larger than one man, and to use him as a scapegoat is the failing of the left; to use him as a savior is the failing of the right.
The only solution to this rage is reason.
Where Has Reason Fled?
The Republican Party, the party I joined early in my youth, was a party of ideals and character. It is no surprise that a party of ideals and character tended to face the most backlash from a media who gradually lost its ideals and character. We used to care what our political leaders believed rather than which letter stood next to their names on the ballot. The new breed of politics, born well before 2016, is simply high-society tribalism.
If we want a movement which matters and actually safeguards liberty, we need to abandon the tribe and consider what we expect from our political system. Do we want a system that punishes people with whom we disagree? Do we want a system which burdens our children with debt, inflation, and indentured servitude to foreign powers? Do we want a system that thinks for us?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, this blog, reason, and the movement we seek to generate is not for you. If you care more about the man in the suit than his actual values, this is not the place for you.
If, however, you wish to renew an intellectual movement which invigorates the spirit of conservatism and libertarianism, we have some work to do. For reason is still here, but we simply need to use it.
Why Calvin Coolidge?
No modern leader exhibits what we need right now in the Republican party: a leader who is more concerned with right action rather than self-promotion. Calvin Coolidge shrank the national debt by nearly 25% during his time in office, all while significantly cutting taxes three times.(1) In fact, the total public debt when Coolidge entered was 23.6% of GDP. On his last day in office, it was 15.2% of GDP.(2)(3) When Coolidge left office, government spending was only 2.5% higher than when he entered.(4) Adjusting for inflation, the real spending remained nearly the same. By the end of his term, 98% of Americans paid no taxes(1) and every budget that Coolidge signed was balanced.(4)
Coolidge knew how to put the government's fiscal house in order. The financial footing of the Federal Treasury was more solid than it had been in decades as a result of his frugality.
We have had many politicians, President Trump included, who promised us that they will fix the deficit and debt. The last president to deliver this was a Democrat.
But this is not just about government finances, which are a very small part of the president's role. Our party is failing us and it is time for the voters to correct it. Americans have been duped into believing that government is god and that central planning is the solution to all ills reality has in store for us. It was Coolidge's character, leadership, and his perseverance through immense trials that make him admirable. He embodied an America long dormant.
The Coolidge Project is a grass-roots movement which seeks to develop, among conservative and libertarian Republicans, an ethos of intellectual discipline. It seeks to curb grandstanding, celebrity, and sophistry which are too common the inclinations of pollical leaders. The project does not seek to cause fissures between conservatives and libertarians, but rather it seeks to bridge the gap by creating unity without uniformity.
The ferocious appetites of the powerful will always trend toward centralization of authority at the expensive of individual liberty. This is simply the nature which exists in all of us. Since no man can withstand the privileges of power, it is solely in ideologies where we can seek our refuge from the onslaught of authoritarianism. But while Republicans bicker over the politics of the man, the heart of the ideology becomes warped, deranged, and conveniently forgotten.
It is with this in mind that The Coolidge Project seeks to unify Republicans behind the principles and ideals which have made our movement worthwhile. Without a unified belief that individual liberty is the public good, we are lost.