President Barack Obama is in line with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman in his courageous use of executive orders, which were highly unpopular, but the right thing to do!
Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, despite his entire cabinet suggesting that he not do so, as it would cause great controversy. But Lincoln knew it was the right thing to do morally and ethically, and that politically, it would help to prevent Great Britain and France from recognizing the Confederate States of America, which would have caused war between the US and the two major European powers.
Truman knew that his executive order ending segregation in the armed forces and in Washington DC would rile up the Southern states, and cause his election campaign a lot of damage in the Old South, but he went ahead anyway, because it was the right thing to do, and politically, it made him a profile in courage. Despite losing four Southern states to the States Rights Presidential candidate, Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Truman still staged an upset victory over Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey. His actions against segregation cemented an African American alliance long term with the Democratic Party, and spurred the growth of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
Now, Barack Obama taking action on immigration reform, is taking a courageous action, vehemently opposed by Republicans and conservatives, but the right thing to do morally and ethically. The long term effect will be to cement the Hispanic-Latino-Asian alliance with the Democratic Party, and will insure that the Republicans will be marginalized, as the white population dwindles over time, and the elderly right wing majority will disappear over time.
Let us salute our President, as history judges Lincoln and Truman, for having done the right thing in the midst of massive assault and threats of retribution. This is what the Presidency is all about–principle, conviction, and courage!
So much attention is usually paid to foreign policy during any President’s administration, but domestic accomplishments are something that needs much more attention.
Following is what this author regards as the greatest domestic accomplishment of each President since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Franklin D. Roosevelt—Social Security Act of 1935
Harry Truman–Integration of the military and Washington DC in 1948
Dwight D. Eisenhower–Appointment of Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1953 and Associate Justice William Brennan in 1956
John F. Kennedy—Integration of University of Mississippi by James Meredith, with federal enforcement in 1962
Lyndon B. Johnson—Civil Rights Act of 1964
Richard Nixon–Creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970
Gerald Ford—Appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975
Jimmy Carter—Environmental Reform and Expansion of Public Lands 1977-1981
Ronald Reagan—Social Security Reform in tandem with Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill in 1983
George H. W. Bush—Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
Bill Clinton—Appointment of Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994
George W. Bush—Medicare Part D Prescription Law of 2003
Barack Obama—Affordable Care Act of 2010
Discussion and commentary on this list is welcome!
On this day in 1948, 65 years ago, President Harry Truman, who had grown up in a traditional Southern Confederate home in Missouri, took a very courageous step, integrating the military by executive order, causing an uproar in the South and in the military itself, but standing by his decision that segregation and second class citizenship in the military must stop, particularly after the major contribution of African Americans during World War II.
This was the first Presidential action since Ulysses S. Grant promoted the Civil Rights Acts during his administration 75 years earlier.
It harmed Truman’s quest for a full term, spurring the creation of the States Rights party (Dixiecrats), and the candidacy of Strom Thurmond for President, and Thurmond won four Southern states and 39 electoral votes, the second best total ever until that time, but Truman pulled out a miraculous victory anyway!
Truman followed up the action on the military, by integrating Washington, DC, which had been ordered segregated by executive order of Woodrow Wilson in 1913!
What Truman did had an effect on the Supreme Court and future Presidents and Congresses, and the civil rights movement owes a lot to the courage and principle and decency of President Truman, who took a stand that could have defeated him, but that he knew was the right thing to do!