Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was the 28th President of the United States serving from 1913 to 1921. 1913 was a bad year for freedom. In 1913 Amendment XVI (Income Tax) was ratified as well as Amendment XVII (Popular Election of Senators). The Federal Reserve Act was also passed in December 1913 but the worst event of 1913 was the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson on March 4, 1913. Were it not for the rift in the Republican Party and Theodore Roosevelt running on the Bull Moose Party ticket Wilson would have had no chance of winning and would have become a mere footnote in history. This nobody who had become a Democratic Prince was now crowned a King and no one ever elected President before or since did it with the same level of arrogance and smugness. Wilson, the former President of Princeton, had a PhD and he was going to use his superior knowledge to lead the poor ignorant masses to a new vision for America (sounds like Barack Obama, doesn’t it).
In his first term as President, Wilson persuaded a Democratic Congress to pass major progressive reforms. Wilson pushed through in his first term a legislative agenda that few presidents have equaled including the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Farm Loan Act among many. If this was all he had done it would be exceptional, but he had bigger ideas in his theoretical head, ideas that would be used to destroy constitutional principles and give a theoretical basis for the descent into socialism.
Wilson, in his inaugural Address, used clever rhetoric to disguise the fact that he fundamentally disliked the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and wanted to see the Constitution altered to agree with socialist principles. Wilson ushered in the modern view that the Constitution is a “living document” which enabled activist judges to rewrite the Constitution according to the progressive notions of the day. Wilson cynically took the oath of office and agreed to “support and defend” the Constitution of the United States and then, once he had lowered his raised right hand, began the process of dismantling the very document he had sworn to uphold.
That Wilson would act in this way should have been no surprise to anyone who had read his writings carefully. Wilson challenged the relevance of the Declaration of Independence and claimed that the Declaration “is of no consequence to us unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the present day.” Instead of opposing the tyranny of intrusive government, Wilson wished to redirect the Declaration against the tyranny of corporations. The practical consequences would be increased government oversight of economic activities and peoples’ daily lives.
In Socialism and Democracy (1887), Wilson asserts that there is no essential difference in principle between socialism and democracy and that both rest on the absolute right of the community to determine its own destiny and that of its members. In it he claims that both assert that “ … men as communities are supreme over men as individuals.” In it Wilson makes the astonishing claim that democracy, including American democracy, has no inherent regard for individual rights, whether natural or political, and therefore contains no principled limits on government power over individuals. He then assumes that “no line can be drawn between private and public affairs which the State may not cross at will” and proceeds to develop a progressive philosophy that takes from socialism “that all ideas of a limitation of public authority by individual rights be put out of view.” Wilson, believing that all political thought is controlled by the circumstances of the time in which it is developed, calls for a constitutional revolution to meet the “radically different” conditions of his time. Socialism and Democracy could easily be inserted into the Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx couldn’t have said it better!
Wilson, in his 1912 “New Freedom” speeches, defined progressivism as the belief that the laws need to keep up with changes in economic circumstances. He asserts that the progressive wants to adjust laws to the “facts of the case” since the law is ultimately an expression of the facts in legal relationships. Wilson views the future as the more glorious time and applauds the “modern idea” of leaving the past and pressing on to something new (USFA note: Socialists always look to the future since they are always convinced that the next time it will work – they hate to look to the past because they then must see the wreckage caused by their past social experiments). In his essay “Leaders of Men” Wilson says “(A true leader) must inflame their (the masses) passions with little heed for the facts. Men are as clay in the hands of a consummate leader.” (USFA note: Dictatorship 101).
In 1916 Wilson narrowly defeated Charles Evan Hughes in one of the closest elections in American history. It never occurred to Wilson that he did not have a mandate to govern even though as a sitting president he had barely won and in his first try it had required a third party candidacy to allow him to be elected. Wilson had campaigned for his second term under the slogan “He kept us out of war.” One month after being sworn in for his second term Wilson asked Congress to declare war. After the declaration of war, Wilson ushered in the most repressive regime in U.S. history. The internment of Japanese born U.S. citizens during World War II was minor compared to the actions against U.S. citizens by Wilson during World War I. During WWI Wilson passed the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 which allowed him to shut down newspapers at an astounding pace. Any criticism of the government could earn a prison sentence and it is estimated that over 150,000 Americans were arrested during his second term.
Wilson’s two primary allies during his presidency were Colonel Edward M. House and Walter Lippmann. In 1912 House had written Phillip Dru: Administrator in which he promotes “socialism as dreamed of by Karl Marx”. Even more insidious was the long time New York Times writer Walter Lippmann. On January 8, 1918 Wilson made his famous speech articulating America’s war aims and delineating his Fourteen Points. This speech was authored by Walter Lippmann and included a framework for the beginnings of an international government (socialist, of course) under the League of Nations. Lippmann continued to assault freedom with his socialist columns from the New York Times until he finally retired in 1967 to much praise from his collectivist soul brothers.
In September and October 1919 Wilson suffered a series of debilitating strokes and was rarely seen in public. His second wife, Edith Galt, controlled his life and decided what he would and would not address. Fortunately in 1919 the Republicans controlled the Senate and did not ratify the League of Nations, primarily due to its notorious Article X, which would have allowed the League to send the U.S. into war without the approval of the U.S. government. In 1945, when the United Nations was approved, no such wisdom prevailed.
Wilson seemed to regard himself as a school headmaster whose pupils (the populace) were to be controlled, educated and punished if they misbehaved (disagreed with him). He never grasped the fact that there were millions of Americans just as smart as he and they did not want to be controlled and educated nor did they much agree with his view of the world. The massive changes wrought by Wilson could have qualified him to be considered as the father of modern socialism except for one fact – during the next administration (1921-1929) many of his changes were reduced in scope and a few overturned or severely modified.
Wilson had many massive contributions to the descent into socialism but the major one was the notion that the Constitution is a living document. This myth has been promoted and institutionalized by socialist writers for the past 100 years and is considered standard fare for any liberal interpretation of the Constitution. It seems that Wilson had a Constitutional Convention in his own brain and decided that the correct version of the Constitution was the one he had concocted in his own imagination, not the one adopted in 1788. It was therefore easy for him to swear to “support and defend” the Constitution since he was referring to the Constitution that existed in his mind, not that other “obsolete” one that existed on paper. There were many presidents to come after Wilson that agreed to “support and defend” the Constitution that existed somewhere in Woodrow Wilson’s mind and that was established by Wilson’s imaginary Constitutional Convention.