historical rankings

Hillary Clinton’s “historic” nomination demonstrates what’s wrong with the two-party system


Although they were all but over two weeks ago, the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries officially ended on Tuesday when the final states cast their votes. Hillary Clinton’s victory was cheered from sea to shining sea as a historic first. It was only a first if you limit the criteria and historical record to a very specific window. That’s the problem with our party system in the first place.

While she is the first female presidential nominee from the Democratic or Republican parties, those aren’t the only parties in our system. They’re not even the only parties who have won the presidency.

Jill Stein was the Green Party presidential nominee in 2012 and likely will be this year too. Last time, with two largely popular major party candidates, she received 469,501 votes nationwide but no electoral votes. Not even Stein was the first female nominee, though.

In 1872, feminist activist Victoria Woodhull was the nominee for president from the Equal Rights Party. Her vice presidential nominee was famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, though he never acknowledged the party’s choice of him. Woodhull received a negligible number of votes, if any. She was kept from voting even for herself after being arrested a few days before the election.

A libertarian ranking of our presidents

Over the weekend, I happened to catch a link on Twitter pointing a libertarian ranking of Presidents of the United States. It caught my eye because we don’t often see a thoughtful review of our nation’s presidents from our philosophical prespective.

As libertarians, we tend to believe that a good president is one that stays close to constitutional values and the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately for liberty, the mainstream view, both in the press and by historians, is presidents that expand their office are general classified as the “greatest presidents.”

In this particular post written by Xavier Cromartie, the five best presidents are (in this order):

  1. Martin Van Buren
  2. Grover Cleveland
  3. John Tyler
  4. Calvin Coolidge
  5. Zachary Taylor

Cromartie provides his reasoning for naming these presidents from best to worst, including a list of the good they did or the marks against them.

I don’t necessarily endorse the list, but it’s as accurate as we’ll see from someone that shares our libertarian view. Although I can say that Grover Cleveland is my favorite, as Thomas DiLorenzo once called him, our libertarian president.

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