Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ranking the Presidents

Summit County, Colorado Independent

I am teaching three classes this semester. American Government, Sociology II and Contemporary World History. Contemporary World History is the period from 1900 to the present. For the most part it is twentieth century history. At other times I also teach Political Science and United States History I and II.

Last night was my first class and I did a continuum of the events during the period on the white board. The discussion ranged from important authors, song writers, performers and politicians.

My students asked me who were the most influential musicians during the century. I said Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. It has nothing to do with how much I like them or do not like them. It was based on how much they did or continue to influence society and culture.

They also asked who I thought were the most important and influential presidents in history. I said Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, Johnson and Reagan. I base my choices on how effective each president was in shaping the nation and history in general. It has nothing to do with political party or whether someone was liberal or conservative.

Unfortunately most of the others would fall into the worst or least effective category. History does not or will not redeem them. They made their decisions knowing that it was wrong and history will not improve on that.

Also each president must stand on his own and not be compared with other presidents. It is not a popularity contest.

I was also asked how Obama will rank. What a trap. What a trick question. He has not spent one day as president yet. Are we going to rank people on their potential? Never.

I think that choosing someone based on popularity is just wrong. History will very seldom mention popularity.

"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." Denis Waitley

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Breckenridge, CO 80424-8941



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