Politics

Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Obama

Yes, that’s right—Rutherford B. Hayes. I know it’s two years until the big election, but this country is in sad and desperate need of a strong conservative who can unseat President Obama and clean up and redirect the Republican party.

Why Hayes? Look at his credentials. Hayes graduated from Harvard Law School. His stalwart opposition to slavery drew him into the Republican Party, and also to offer his services to the Union Army where he rose to major general. Not only was he wounded four times in battle, but (if that weren’t enough) while he was still serving in the Civil War he was elected to Congress (without campaigning, mind you).

After the war, he was a three-time governor of Ohio, a sound fiscal policy being one of the hallmarks of his time at state helm. And I proudly add that in 1868—two years before the 15th Amendment—Hayes attempted to amend the Ohio Constitution to secure the right to vote for African-Americans.

During his third term as governor, Hayes was tapped by the Republican Party as their presidential candidate. Despite rumors to the contrary, he won the 1876 election fair and square. Unlike all too many Presidents, Hayes vowed not to seek reelection. The resulting political independence and his own unquestionable moral integrity allowed Hayes to clean up government corruption, even and especially the corruption in his own party that had festered during the Grant Administration.

Hayes also pushed the gold standard against the inflationary attempts by Congress to cure the Depression set off after the Panic of 1873. He and his wife Lucy—the first First Lady graduate of college—had eight children.

I dare you! Name a better candidate!

Now I can just hear the nay-sayers who always come in to point out niggling little problems with grand designs: “But Rutherford B. Hayes is dead.”

And exactly why is that a problem. It seems, in my humble opinion, to be a great advantage at this particular time.

First of all, I think everyone will admit that, as a matter of historical fact, nearly all of the mischief perpetrated from the Executive Office has been done by living Presidents. This is something that is all too often overlooked—no doubt, from a kind of deep-seated prejudice against the expired.

Certainly, I am ready to admit that Presidents who happen to be alive have also done some good, but taken on the whole, their record is far from stellar. Since much of the good that can be done by a President comes from his resisting Congress or resisting the urge to engage in elaborate utopian schemes, Hayes is definitely the man. He did it in life. Think how much more effective he would be now.

Second, it might be objected that allowing the dead a place in politics is politically disastrous. On the contrary, the dead have been active in Chicago elections for decades, and have undoubtedly been the swing vote that has even elected Presidents.

Why should the Democratic Party have the market cornered on the graveyard vote? Think of how appealing Hayes as a candidate would be to them? I imagine something like the Reagan Democrats here, a vast switchover vote that could help sweep Republicans into both Congress and the White House.

I admit that perhaps I’m a bit overzealous. Historians have characteristically looked quickly over Hayes as a little-account President, someone to mention and get on to someone more earth-shaking. I have been pleasantly surprised, however, in rediscovering Hayes to find him to be a model conservative, a man who chose integrity over popularity, and clung to solid principles against the howling protests of political banshees.

If the Republicans can’t run Rutherford B. Hayes, may they please find someone like him.

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