Benjamin Harrison, one of my favorite Presidents, mostly because of the beard.
I'll be honest, I'm fascinated by the inside baseball stuff, the pure politics.
But what's missing, at least as far as I'm aware, is a place to have a serious, respectful conversation about conservativism, the old and the new, and liberalism, (now called progressivism, I guess) the old and the new. I'd lay it out like this:
In the old days, conservatives were cautious, sober, serious guys who were good with money and didn't see the value in getting too involved with other country's problems or affairs. They believed in the basic goodness and decency of people and figured the less the government was involved in anything, the better things would work out in the end.
The old-school liberals, on the other hand, had a much more pessimistic view of people. They believed that left alone, most humans would look out for their own self-interest more than they would take care of others; especially others who didn't look, sound or act like them, their family and all of their friends. Old-time liberals held xenophobia as a basic fact of the world and believed that the government could help to blunt its more brutal results.
So, in the old days, you had Roosevelt (a patrician guy who was called a class traitor by many of the people he grew up with) shuffling the deck and dealing out the New Deal. And making us the World's Policeman. Liberalism run amok. And you had Eisenhower (a guy who had spent his life on the front lines Roosevelt convinced us to advance and defend) settling things down, building the interstate highway system and generally growing things steady and slow like a retired gentleman farmer in a true conservative fashion.
But how those two philosophies or styles or realities relate to the parties today is beyond my meager grasp, friends.
I've written elsewhere about the deep deficiencies of the modern Democratic party. I became an independent in Clinton's second term, although I vote exclusively Democrat in national elections. The simplest way of saying it is that the Democratic party has been co-opted by old, self-interested, rich, cautious white men and the Republican party has been taken hostage by fundamentalist racists. These two highly funded camps have little genuine interest in governing and no meaningful interest whatsoever in improving the basic living conditions of you, me and the poor people of our country.
Where to start?
Here, I suppose. You got to try, anyway.
My first, tentative steps forward will be these:
Citizens United (o, the irony of that name) is the most dangerous, short-sighted, destructive judgement in the history of the Supreme Court since the Dred Scott decision.
President Obama's stimulus package isn't working and won't work because it wasn't big enough. They couldn't sell a billion dollar bailout (which was what was needed) so they sold what they could, knowing it was bogus.
Mitt Romney is the most ill-equipped candidate I've ever seen run for national office and that includes George McGovern and Michael Dukakis. And he's got a real shot at winning.