Jump to content
270soft Forum
Sign in to follow this  
vcczar

List of the US Presidents from most Conservative to most Liberal.

Recommended Posts

To pass some time I made a list of the US Presidents from most Conservative to most Liberal. I'm obviously following the US definitions of these terms, rather than the European definition. Perhaps this is really just a list from those who were most likely to least like to use the Federal Government to propose, create, and enforce necessary and proper legislation or actions in order to better achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all American citizens and taxpayers. Obviously, those on the Conservative side believe this goal is better achieved by leaving it to the states. This list is also in context of their times, otherwise every post-FDR president would be in the top 10. 

  1. FD Roosevelt
  2. LB Johnson
  3. T Roosevelt
  4. A Lincoln [Even outside of emancipation, there were the Homestead Acts, Land Grant colleges, and other expansions of government in the domestic sphere.]
  5. HS Truman
  6. B Obama 
  7. W Wilson
  8. JF Kennedy
  9. JQ Adams [Mostly unfulfilled]
  10. US Grant 
  11. B Clinton
  12. G Washington [Would have been more conservative had he not been the first president]
  13. DD Eisenhower
  14. J Carter [More conservative as president than his post-presidency rhetoric would suggest]
  15. T Jefferson
  16. Z Taylor [Did little, but under the influence of Seward and the Liberal Whigs, he had intentions to use Federal power to contain slavery after vetoing the Compromise of 1850, but died before he could veto it. Had potential to be a great president, but was clearly still raw by the time he died.] 
  17. H Hoover [Would be lower on this list had the Great Depression not occurred.]
  18. R Nixon [Nixon wanted a guaranteed minimum income]
  19. WH Taft
  20. A Jackson 
  21. JA Garfield [Did about as much in 6 months as WHH did in 30 days. He had plans for Civil Rights enforcement, but was focusing on corruption.]
  22. B Harrison
  23. WG Harding
  24. WH Harrison [Did nothing, and many of his policy goals outside of executive reform were unclear.]
  25. Rutherford B. Hayes [wanted to be more liberal, but the Compromise of 1877 bound his hands]
  26. GHW Bush
  27. J Adams [Would have probably been more liberal in a 2nd term w/ a favorable Congress]
  28. M Fillmore
  29. CAA Arthur 
  30. G Ford
  31. J Madison [War of 1812 made him slightly more liberal]
  32. W McKinley
  33. GW Bush
  34. M Van Buren [Would have been liberal had he won in 1848.]
  35. D Trump [Criminal Justice reform, bump stock ban, and intention to at least replace Obamacare gets him at least this high.]
  36. G Cleveland
  37. J Monroe [Despite this, not as Conservative as he was as a Senator]
  38. R Reagan
  39. JK Polk
  40. A Johnson
  41. F Pierce
  42. C Coolidge
  43. J Tyler 
  44. J Buchanan [Unlike Tyler, even didn't support land grants, a long-standing Democratic policy.]

Remember this list is relative to their time, otherwise every pre-FDR president except for TR and AL would be at the bottom and every post FDR president would be in the top half. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Disagreed with this list a lot until I saw you were judging them based on how often they would use the federal government to solve problems. Good list, well put together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, so the two most moderate presidents of all time were

              Benjamin Harrison and Warren Harding

Not exactly a proud moment for moderates I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, WJBryan said:

Hmm, so the two most moderate presidents of all time were

              Benjamin Harrison and Warren Harding

Not exactly a proud moment for moderates I guess.

Well, moderate so far as in their use of the federal government to enforce party policy. Both were conservative in most other areas. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, WJBryan said:

Hmm, if the list were least to most Libertarian would the order look any different?

It would be similar, but Libertarians are also Socially Liberal, Free Trade, and Fiscally Conservative, so that would be added into the mix with reluctance to use the federal government. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also seems interesting that both of the guys at the median point are conservatives, suggesting that there have been more conservative presidents than liberal ones?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, WJBryan said:

Also seems interesting that both of the guys at the median point are conservatives, suggesting that there have been more conservative presidents than liberal ones?

Of those below the median, John Adams, Martin Van Buren, and Rutherford B Hayes can be argued that they were too moderate to be considered conservative or they were potential liberals that were handicapped. All three were one-termers that were kind of constrained by what they could or could not do.

John Adams had some really liberal beliefs for government, similar to his son, however, he was operating under precedents used by only Washington and didn't try to break precedents or make any new ones. He was also bogged down in the Quasi War and XYZ Affair. Had he won a second term, I think he'd move up on my list. 

Martin Van Buren was sort of stuck in Jackson's shadow and carried Jackson's policies, even though they were policies Van Buren would have unlikely adopted had he been the president before Jackson. Van Buren also was a silent critic of slavery, and opposed Texas annexation for this reason. Later in his career, he was a Free Soil Democrat, which was a relatively strong progressive/liberal 3rd party, and he was their nominee. I think if Van Buren had one a second term, he would have broken free from Jackson's shadow. Van Buren was also constrained by the Panic of 1837, which covered his entire presidency. 

RB Hayes was a reformist, civil rights Republican. However, his election was so controversial that he was forced to agree to the Compromise of 1877, effectively rendering him to a do nothing president and a one-termer. Much of what Hayes did were things he didn't really want to do. A bolder man would have said "Damn, the compromise" and followed his beliefs. He was kind of conservative in the pro-business sense, however. 

 However, yes, we've had more Conservative presidents than Liberal presidents. I'd say 14 are liberal; although, you can make an argument for some of those I might call moderate as being liberal as well. I count about 20 that are Conservative, but I can see arguments for more or less. Some are hard to classify: Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson, especially. Washington saw so much rapid change and enlargement of government just by being the first president; however, he would have likely been conservative if he had been a later president. Jefferson and Jackson are conservative in the states rights sense, their acceptance of slavery, their rejection of internal improvements, treatment of native americans, but they also were the strongest advocates of expanded suffrage and popular democracy. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...