The author of Theodore the Great: Conservative Crusader, Daniel Ruddy, analyzed Theodore Roosevelt as a true conservative who used progressive policies to please the public with TheDC’s Matt Lewis in a recent podcast.
“His brain trust, the people he was closest to, the people he trusted to run the country, were all deeply conservative men,” Ruddy said.
Ruddy drew the parallel of attacking Roosevelt’s presidency to attacking Abraham Lincoln, who most Republicans want to associate with.
“Teddy was a great American patriot, a war hero, a great president, he’s up there on Mount Rushmore with Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln. To me, it’s a little sacrilegious to vilify him,” Ruddy explained.
Ruddy detailed the arguments some libertarians make labeling Roosevelt as a progressive and enemy of the Constitution, but counteracted them by saying Roosevelt was fighting issues as president that aren’t relevant today. He also argued that Roosevelt, a student of history, was attempting to preempt the possibility that something like the French Revolution would happen here.
“Teddy was responding to reasonable public demands for sensible reforms. He wasn’t trying to impose some sort of leftist radical ideology on a country. In that way he was a practical pragmatic conservative trying to stave off revolution. He didn’t want socialism to take hold.”
Ruddy and Lewis also discussed the similarities in Roosevelt’s time to perceptions of the 2016 political climate.
“History is viewed through our own biases and the lens of our own — things we think are important, things we dislike and then when you have a way of projecting that onto a historical figure, when we forget it’s really unfair to do that. To look at historical figure, you need to judge them against their own times.”
Ruddy wrote the book responding to recent critics of Roosevelt, specifically after the financial crisis in 2008 and the wars in Iraq, based on primary source research.