American Presidents come in all manners of shapes, sizes, characters, and legacies. Some were great, while others were forgettable, and even more were terrible. Often times, when we rank Presidents we come across a particular phenomenon—many of the greatest Presidents are not great. We also have another phenomenon—the bloodlust phenomenon. Take the first twenty Presidents, almost every single one was either a wartime President or had an aggressive foreign policy. This is not to judge the actions, many were justified and necessary, but it is to attack the blood lust. Presidents are only considered great because they do something memorable—all too often something memorable involves armies crossing borders and causing destruction and suffering. On a happier note, here are my top ten Presidents of the United States.
1. George Washington
As a conservative I believe strongly in norms and institutions to control and manage society and government. George Washington makes this list because he established so many norms. From taking only two terms to establishing cabinet advisors, the title of Mister President, and among others, George Washington helped established the traditions to make America great.
2. Thomas Jefferson
He doubled the size of the United States. That is pretty great. He also tried to avoid war with Great Britain. Admittedly, it did not work out.
3. James Madison
He secured American independence with another victory over London.
4. James Monroe
Two words. Monroe. Doctrine.
5. Abraham Lincoln
I would put Abraham Lincoln in the bottom ten if it was not for the South attacking Fort Sumter. President Lincoln correctly handled this act of aggression and was able to reunite the union.
6. Grover Cleveland
He did nothing and that is great. Spending increased by four billion in his first term and fell by a billion in his second. That should give you a good idea about his administration.
7. Warren G Harding and Calvin Coolidge
I am putting these two men together because President Harding died a premature death and it was President Coolidge that finished out his term and mission. These two men did something extraordinary, they returned America to normalcy. I would argue they were the first two modern conservative Presidents. Both men pursued an agenda of the limited government in a classically liberal framework, cut spending, ran surpluses, cut taxes and brought down the national debt. All while managing to avoid a war with Mexico.
8. Jimmy Carter
Avoided war with Iran, began deregulation and gave an opening for Ronald Regan and the conservative revolution.
9. Ronald Regan
What can I say? President Regan was the best conservative President in the modern era. Hell, he is arguably the only conservative President in the modern era.
10. Bill Clinton
I am going, to be honest here; President Clinton is only on this list because of his amazing quotes including “”I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Plot twist, he had sexual relations with that woman. “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Is another great Bill Clinton quote. I also really enjoy his “I experimented with marijuana a time or two. And I didn’t like it, and I didn’t inhale” quote.