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Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Coolidge Effect

On the advice that "those who don't learn their history are condemned to repeat it," my favorite reading is biographies. I figure that knowing about people throughout history -- their successes and failures -- along with the recurrent phases of human behavior allow one to accurately predict what's just over our own horizon.  As with my wildly unpopular assertion in 2015 of Donald Trump's chances of election, lots of my opinions and observations turn out to be correct.

Believe me, it's not because I'm some psychic or genius. I just pay attention.

Reading the biography of Calvin Coolidge seems to be especially timely.  Most people, including most Americans, know little or nothing about Coolidge.  In fact, he was the 29th Vice President of the United States in 1920, who became the 30th President in 1923 when President Warren Harding died in the White House. Coolidge won re-election in 1924, serving more than five years as the nation's chief executive.

Other than one clean joke about his being a man of few words, nobody remembers much about Calvin Coolidge's presidency.  That's probably because what made him a nationally popular hero is what happened to him before he ever sought national office.

It happened in 1919, just after the first world war, when the globe was wrapped up in political instability. All over the planet, monarchies and kingdoms were giving way to industrialized republics, redrawing maps and changing governmental structures that had been in power for centuries, causing mass confusion.  It's no coincidence, for example, that the Russian revolution succeeded in 1917: As Machiavelli once noted, "the quickest ascension to power is through a vacuum."  By 1919, the success of Communism was a very real threat to the United States, especially with the Boston Police Strike of that year.

Coolidge was governor of Massachusetts at the time, faced with the dilemma of handling a breakdown of law and order of unprecedented proportion.  Although the police were forbidden by law from striking, they walked out anyway, figuring they had the public's support.  After all, the mood of the city was one of agitation, inspired by the newfound power enjoyed by Socialist and Communist labor unions throughout Europe and beyond.

The entire strike lasted about a week, throwing Boston into chaos and making national headlines. Despite the media's perceived sentiment leaning in favor of the striking policemen, Coolidge decided that the beyond the policemen's sworn and moral obligation to protect the public, the law was the law: Coolidge called in the militia and not only fired all the strikers, he guaranteed none would ever be re-hired by the Boston police under any circumstance.

Warned by pundits that his actions would be deemed politically unpopular by the public, Coolidge's decision to sustain law and order were actually enthusiastically endorsed by voters across the country. Firemen, telephone operators, nurses and coal miners who had been tempted to walk off their jobs, backed off their threats. It was the first instance in which the phrase "silent majority" was applied to those whose opinions and votes weren't even mentioned by the media.  Upon realizing their error, most media quickly changed their tunes and endorsed Coolidge as a true, solid leader. Real presidential material.

That was 1919. This is 2018.

Look around the planet.  As of this writing, lawlessness abounds. Apartheid is worse than ever in South Africa, only now it's the whites who are feeling the pain of state-sponsored robbery and murder.  The white population is now warning of violent rebellion against their corrupt black oppressors -- and they have the resources to back up their threats.  Check out the tension of European countries as they wring their hands over the continuing decay of their own customs and disciplines.  Watch how many South American countries drown in their own lawless poverty.

As I warned in 2017, it's only a matter of time until the lawlessness we're seeing -- on the same international scale seen by Coolidge a hundred years ago -- erupts into full scale conflict. My thesis that now, as then, the silent majority will again support leaders who can and will buck the media's advocacy of lawlessness, choosing a return to law and order.  The United States, Hungary, Poland and Italy have just weighed in; I suspect more are on the way.

It won't come cheaply. The media will likely accuse those leaders of unbridled nationalism and worse. Real people are going to bleed and die in the streets. History, however, will undoubtedly report the ultimate return to stability as one more natural diversion in the course of human history, the periodic purge that cleanses the system, followed by a period of worldwide prosperity.

Just like it did after Coolidge.

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