Coolidge had been reluctant to choose Hoover as his successor and on one occasion he remarked that “for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice – all of it bad.” Coolidge had no desire, however, to split the party and did not intervene in the selection of Hoover as the candidate of the Republican Party, a decision that would have unfortunate consequences for the nation and prove Coolidge’s remark to be incredibly accurate.
Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) won the 1928 election in a landslide riding the wave of prosperity from the Roaring Twenties. The people were soon to understand that not all Republicans are alike. Hoover was a Republican progressive in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt and had supported the “Bull Moose” Party in 1912. The “Progressive Movement” had been declared officially dead in 1924 with the defeat in the 1924 elections of Robert LaFollette, its founder. We all know of course that “Progressive” is just a term that socialists use to hide under and so, after 1924, they started hiding under the term “Liberal” – nonetheless it is all the same and their basic approach never wavers. Hoover was never tagged as a Progressive Republican, even though that was exactly his approach. Hoover was not a conservative and today would be labeled a RINO.
Hoover’s one term was bound up with the Stock Market Crash that occurred shortly after he took office and the subsequent Great Depression that rocked the nation economically. Unwittingly, Hoover’s reaction to these cataclysmic events formed the blueprint for the subsequent actions by the Roosevelt administration that extended and prolonged the misery. When the Depression struck Hoover responded with large scale government intervention, a policy that sealed his doom.
At the outset of the Depression Hoover rejected Treasury Secretary Mellon’s suggested “leave it alone” approach and called many business leaders to Washington to urge them not to lay off workers or cut wages – the beginning of many bad decisions Hoover was to make. Hoover adopted pro-labor policies after the stock market crash that accounted for close to two-thirds of the drop in the nation’s gross domestic product over the two years that followed, causing what should have been a recession to slip into the Great Depression. Hoover raised the top Income Tax Rate from 25% to 63% and made increases in the corporate income tax rate and the estate tax – all policies that as we have seen only make the situation worse. The Federal Reserve was not helpful at all, reducing the nation’s money supply when the opposite remedy was required. One can make a strong argument that this was intentional on the part of the Federal Reserve since the forces of liberalism dominated the Fed and they realized that this was necessary to counteract the success of Conservative Republican policies from the Harding/Coolidge administration.
In the election of 1932 Franklin Roosevelt cynically blasted the Republican incumbent for spending and taxing too much, increasing national debt, blocking trade, and placing millions on the dole of the government. Roosevelt attacked Hoover for “reckless and extravagant” spending and of thinking “that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible.” The Democratic vice-presidential candidate, John Nance Garner, accused Hoover of “leading the country down the path of socialism.” All of these assertions were of course correct. The fact that Roosevelt subsequently did these same things in an even more drastic manner was later conveniently forgotten by anyone associated with his administration.
The charge that Hoover was responsible for the Depression stuck and Hoover suffered a large defeat in the 1932 election. After the election Hoover requested that Roosevelt retain the Gold Standard as the basis of the U.S. currency – Roosevelt refused.
Hoover lived until 1964 and his good works from the period 1933 until his death restored his image in the eyes of many. Hoover was rather the Lazaro Cardenas of the United States – a good man with a flawed vision. His intentions were good but his policies were to begin a period in American history that many people who lived through them were to remember with grief and anguish. The descent into socialism was once again on track and nothing would be able to stop this freight train now that it was moving at a fast clip.