Presidents’ Day Presidents Ranking

Before getting back to the horse race leading up to Saturday’s Republican South Carolina Primary and Democratic Nevada caucuses, let’s take a moment on this Presidents’ Day to remember some of our great presidents. Let’s rank ’em!

But it wouldn’t be a Presidential Politics for America post if you didn’t get an earnest attempt at objective analysis and a look at both sides’ perspectives. What I’ve done, therefore, is rank the top five presidents according to how each party would rank them. This process will afford me the opportunity to spin their presidencies, which partisans love to do. Should be fun!


Let’s start with the Democrats.

Honorable mentions: Woodrow Wilson (#28), Harry Truman (#33), Lyndon Johnson (#36)

5. John F. Kennedy, #35, 1961-1963, Democrat from Massachusetts

Oh, what could have been. Like a good liberal, he always looked to the future, wanted to secure equality for all Americans, and mobilized the federal government to fund one of this planet’s crowning achievements — NASA and the race to the moon. He also stared down the Soviet threat in some of the most harrowing days of our country’s history. Who says liberal don’t have a spine? (The back brace might have helped.) An assassin’s bullet cut down what would have been two glorious terms, but in just three years he managed to achieve greatness.

4. Theodore Roosevelt, #26, 1901-1909, Republican from New York

The original Progressive. He was most proud of his conservation of our national parks and our country’s natural resources. He also pushed to limit the power of big corporations, protect unions, and tax the inheritance of the wealthy. He deserves that spot on Mount Rushmore.

3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, #32, 1933-1945, Democrat from New York

By expanding government with the New Deal, he helped the poor, created social security, and ushered the country through the Great Depression before successfully leading it against the expansionist Axis Powers. He was the only president re-elected three times, and liberals wish it could have been three more.

2. George Washington, #1, 1789-1797, A man of no party from Virginia

The Father of Our Country was also the father of a strong executive branch and became the symbol of the Federalist Party that pushed a centralized government. President Washington, in his timeless Farewell Address, pleaded with his fellow Americans to stay out of foreign entanglements, and he would have admonished America over the Republican-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. He would have made a model modern Democrat.

1. Abraham Lincoln, #16, 1861-1865, Republican from Illinois

The first great liberal! A tireless champion of liberalism, President Lincoln freed the slaves, fought to preserve the the Great liberal Experiment that is the United States, and made sure the southern conservatives couldn’t destroy the country.


As for the Republicans…

5. Ronald Reagan
4. Ronald Reagan
3. Ronald Reagan
2. Ronald Reagan
1. Ronald Reagan.

Just kidding.

Honorable mentions: Dwight D. Eisenhower (#34), James K. Polk (#11), Andrew Jackson (#7)

5. Theodore Roosevelt, #26, 1901-1909, Republican from New York

The first Republican elected in the 20th century, this proud patriot and Rough Rider knew that the U.S., in the interest of preserving its own interests and broader stability, should carry a big stick.

4. Thomas Jefferson, #3, 1801-1809, Democratic-Republican from Virginia

The original champion of the government leaving us alone, President Jefferson promoted democracy and a true equal playing field for all Americans. Indeed, it is he who famously declared that “All men are created equal.” The people should have the power, he said, not some faraway capital, whether London, Philadelphia, or Washington DC. Let the individual states decide, Jefferson believed. Even while an ambassador 3,000 miles away, he pushed for a Bill of Rights that continues to protect us from a government that always seems to be looking for ways to curtail them.

3. Ronald Reagan, #40, 1981-1989, Republican from California

Aside from being the closest thing to Jesus since Peter, Ronald Reagan embodied the culmination of modern conservativism and is a role model for all modern Republicans. He won the Cold War, allowed business to thrive, and became the foremost inspiration for millions of conservatives today.

2. George Washington, #1, 1789-1797, Virginia (a man of no party)

He was the gallant hero of the American Revolution, a man who knew when and when not to fight, and a southern gentleman who served when his country asked him. He could have stayed for a third time or even for life, but he willingly chose to return his power rather than turn the U.S. into a big government quasi-monarchy. Take notes, Obama.

1. Abraham Lincoln, #16, 1861-1865, Republican from Illinois

The first Republican president! A tireless champion of freedom, President Lincoln freed the slaves, fought to preserve the the Great conservative Experiment that is the United States, and made sure the Democrats couldn’t destroy the country.

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