‘Coolidge’ by Amity Shlaes: Government wanted Stalin, the Tea Party wants Calvin

So what is it that the Tea Party wants in a president, or for that matter in a government?  Do we want a royal prince to fly all about the world to kiss the rings of kings, queens and ass clowns?  No.  Do we want a political class of acadmianuts to dictate to us a morality derived one half from unproven faith, and one half scientific scholarships based on incomplete analysis from intelligentsia?  No.  Do we want a government with no concept of growth, who can do nothing but over consume until they are bed-ridden mounds of flesh that cannot even get up to walk?  No.  But when in history was there ever a president who did not exhibit these traits?  The answer of course is Calvin Coolidge who took office as vice-president in 1920 and became president in 1923 when Warren Harding died.   Coolidge is one of the few presidents who left office in 1929 with a government smaller than when he came in.  His time in the White House was quit and relatively uneventful.  However, his handling of the economy led to a surge in laissez-faire capitalism after the over-reaching years of the Woodrow Wilson regime took American into the roaring twenties.  My good friend Matt Clark interviewed Amity Shlaes who wrote a wonderful biography on Calvin Coolidge simply titled Coolidge.  Watch the video of that interview here to learn more.

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923–1929). A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His conduct during the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight and gave him a reputation as a man of decisive action. Elected in his own right in 1924, he gained a reputation as a small-government conservative, and also as a man who said very little.

Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor’s administration, and left office with considerable popularity.[1] As a Coolidge biographer put it, “He embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength.”[2] Some later criticized Coolidge as part of a general criticism of laissez-faire government.[3] His reputation underwent a renaissance during the Ronald Reagan Administration, but the ultimate assessment of his presidency is still divided between those who approve of his reduction of the size of government programs and those who believe the federal government should be more involved in regulating and controlling the economy.[4]


Critics of the way Coolidge shrunk the federal government of course were in love with the severe micromanaging of the government that was being displayed by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union.  Coolidge would get the blame for The Great Depression which began in the United States in 1929 after Coolidge’s presidency ended.  However, the cause of the depression was the global fascination with socialism, and hard-core communism which extended to every corner of the world prior to World War II.  In the United States, the period after Coolidge’s White House term was called The Red Decade, because of the spread of communist ideas into mainstream thought.

The Red Decade was a term coined by journalist and historian Eugene Lyons to describe a period in American history in the 1930s characterized by a widespread infatuation with communism in general and Stalinism in particular. Lyons believed this idolization of Joseph Stalin and exultation of Bolshevik achievements to have reached its high point in 1938, running deepest amongst liberals, intellectuals, and journalists and even some government and federal officials.

Lyons argues that American intellectuals gave the then-Stalinist Soviet Union (and by extension, Stalinism) a certain international goodwill and respectability that it did not deserve.


Much like the failure in modern America to identify the threat of radical Islamic government ambitions, the political left during the Coolidge years failed to identify the downside of communism which was not reported to the public in the newspapers they controlled, and radio broadcasts they voiced.  Stalin represented the opposite form of government that Coolidge ran, which has delivered America to the doorstep of tyranny ever since the 1930s.  Intellectuals training America’s youth in colleges all over the world had bought into the seduction of Joseph Stalin as they found Calvin Coolidge’s small-government ideas appalling to their statist desires.

Joseph Stalin or Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin (Russian: Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин; born Ioseb Besarionis je J̌uḡašvili, Georgian: იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი, pronounced [iɔsɛb bɛsariɔnis dze dʒuɣaʃvili]; 18 December 1878[1] – 5 March 1953) was the de facto leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. Among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who took part in the Russian Revolution of 1917, Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the party’s Central Committee in 1922. He subsequently managed to consolidate power following the 1924 death of Vladimir Lenin through expanding the functions of his role, all the while eliminating any opposition. He held this nominal post until abolishing it in 1952, concurrently serving as the Premier of the Soviet Union after establishing the position in 1941.

Under Joseph Stalin’s rule, the concept of “socialism in one country” became a central tenet of Soviet society. He replaced the New Economic Policy introduced by Lenin in the early 1920s with a highly centralised command economy, launching a period of industrialization and collectivization that resulted in the rapid transformation of the USSR from an agrarian society into an industrial power.[2] However, the economic changes coincided with the imprisonment of millions of people in Soviet correctional labour camps[3] and the deportation of many others to remote areas.[3] The initial upheaval in agriculture disrupted food production and contributed to the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932–1933, known as the Holodomor in Ukraine. Later, in a period that lasted from 1936–39, Stalin instituted a campaign against alleged enemies of his regime called the Great Purge, in which hundreds of thousands were executed. Major figures in the Communist Party, such as the old Bolsheviks, Leon Trotsky, and several Red Army leaders were killed after being convicted of plotting to overthrow the government and Stalin.[4]

In August 1939, Stalin entered into a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany that divided their influence within Eastern Europe, but Germany later violated the agreement and launched a massive invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Despite heavy human and territorial losses, Soviet forces managed to halt the Nazi incursion after the decisive battles of Moscow and Stalingrad. After defeating the Axis powers on the Eastern Front, the Red Army captured Berlin in May 1945, effectively ending the war in Europe for the Allies.[5][6] The Soviet Union subsequently emerged as one of two recognized world superpowers, the other being the United States.[7] The Yalta and Potsdam conferences established communist governments loyal to the Soviet Union in the Eastern Bloc countries as buffer states, which Stalin deemed necessary in case of another invasion. He also fostered close relations with Mao Zedong in China and Kim Il-sung in North Korea.

Stalin led the Soviet Union through its post-war reconstruction phase, which saw a significant rise in tension with the Western world that would later be known as the Cold War. During this period, the USSR became the second country in the world to successfully develop a nuclear weapon, as well as launching the Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature in response to another widespread famine and the Great Construction Projects of Communism. In the years following his death, Stalin and his regime have been condemned on numerous occasions, most notably in 1956 when his successor Nikita Khrushchev denounced his legacy and initiated a process of de-Stalinization. He remains a controversial figure today, with many regarding him as a tyrant;[8] however, popular opinion within the Russian Federation is mixed.[9][10][11]

Stalin, as head of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, consolidated near-absolute power in the 1930s with a Great Purge of the party that was justified as an attempt to expel “opportunists” and “counter-revolutionary infiltrators”.[42][43] Those targeted by the purge were often expelled from the party, however more severe measures ranged from banishment to the Gulag labor camps to execution after trials held by NKVD troikas.[42][44][45]

In the 1930s, Stalin apparently became increasingly worried about the growing popularity of the Leningrad party boss Sergei Kirov. At the 1934 Party Congress where the vote for the new Central Committee was held, Kirov received only three negative votes, the fewest of any candidate, while Stalin received at least over a hundred negative votes.[46][47] After the assassination of Kirov, which may have been orchestrated by Stalin, Stalin invented a detailed scheme to implicate opposition leaders in the murder, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev.[48] The investigations and trials expanded.[49] Stalin passed a new law on “terrorist organizations and terrorist acts” that were to be investigated for no more than ten days, with no prosecution, defense attorneys or appeals, followed by a sentence to be executed “quickly.”[50]

Thereafter, several trials known as the Moscow Trials were held, but the procedures were replicated throughout the country. Article 58 of the legal code, which listed prohibited anti-Soviet activities as counterrevolutionary crime, was applied in the broadest manner.[51] The flimsiest pretexts were often enough to brand someone an “enemy of the people“, starting the cycle of public persecution and abuse, often proceeding to interrogation, torture and deportation, if not death. The Russian word troika gained a new meaning: a quick, simplified trial by a committee of three subordinated to NKVD –NKVD troika– with sentencing carried out within 24 hours.[50] Stalin’s hand-picked executioner, Vasili Blokhin, was entrusted with carrying out some of the high-profile executions in this period.[52]

Many military leaders were convicted of treason and a large-scale purge of Red Army officers followed.[54] The repression of so many formerly high-ranking revolutionaries and party members led Leon Trotsky to claim that a “river of blood” separated Stalin’s regime from that of Lenin.[55] In August 1940, Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico, where he had lived in exile since January 1937; this eliminated the last of Stalin’s opponents among the former Party leadership.[56]

With the exception of Vladimir Milyutin (who died in prison in 1937) and Joseph Stalin himself, all of the members of Lenin’s original cabinet who had not succumbed to death from natural causes before the purge were executed.


The Great Depression was caused by communism and the over-tampering of economies by left-leaning governments.  Stalin was the exact opposite of Calvin Coolidge who presided over one of the best periods of economy the United States ever experienced even handcuffed with the Prohibition policies created during the Wilson Progressive Era.  Stalin and his influence throughout the world articulated by seduced journalists created the Great Depression during the Red Decade in America as the statist architects of government wanted to carry America as far away from Calvin Coolidge as possible.

The political left and even many on the political right have found themselves shaped in 2013 intellectually, philosophically, morally, and even ideologically by the events mentioned above.  America never recovered from this period of the The Red Decade, because immediately after was World War II, then a brief period of economic boom built off post war economics in the 1950s.  Then the communists were back at it with more statist plans coming again through American colleges during the 1960s.  The rest is history and indicate a very gradual slide toward complete statism exulted by Joseph Stalin who many intellectuals are glad to support the death, destruction and economic depressions so to witness the equality given to all by communism.

Calvin Coolidge was the shining example of what America could produce in a manager in the Executive Branch.  He wasn’t a glory seeker, nor did he in any way desire to be viewed as a king.  He simply wanted to work hard on behalf of the country and leave his office better than he found it—and smaller.  If history tells any kind of coherent story it is that no matter how good a president is, or no matter how efficient the government, there will always be those threats to individual liberty who will gladly trade tyranny for some measure of security.  There is safety in collectivism that is appealing to the weak heart and mind, and there will always be these types of people in a democracy who will vote for more statism through perpetually bigger government.  And when things go wrong with their plans, even if they occur in an entirely different decade, they will blame somebody else.  In our modern-day it is the incompetent manager in Barack Obama who still five years after taking office is blaming George W. Bush for his failing economy that is cause by his socialist tampering.  And so too has history as it was written by liberals, college professors and social scum bags portrayed Joseph Stalin as a saint in spite of the millions of deaths caused by communism, and placed the blame of The Great Depression on the doorstep of Silent Cal, the American president who knew to stay as far away from government tampering as possible to give the economy a chance to grow, which it did.

It is important to know history, and those in the Tea Party are learning.  It is for that reason that they find Calvin Coolidge so appealing, and the model for how government should be run going into the 21st Century.  Without the methods of a future Calvin Coolidge type as President of the United States, all projected government activity in America is destined to bankrupt themselves because of their roots in socialism that began as far back as The Red Decade—a period of time created by the political left to answer the prosperity of Calvin Coolidge, one of the greatest presidents that America never knew about—which is how it’s supposed to be.

You can find Amity Shlaes book Coolidge at the following link:


Rich Hoffman

“Justice Comes with the Crack of a Whip!”