WI: Coolidge Runs in 1928

In 1927, President Coolidge shocked the nation when he declared his intention not to run for a second full term in 1928. What if Coolidge had run as expected? He hated Vice-President Dawes, who would likely be replaced on the ticket. So who would be Coolidge's running mate? Would the Democrats still nominate Al Smith? If elected, would Coolidge's response to the Great Depression be any different from Hoover's? Coolidge died on January 5, 1933, so his running mate would be President for two months before whatever Democrat is sworn in later that year.
 
In the ATL, we alternate historians are sure that if only Herbert Hoover had run in 1928, the "Great Engineer" could have staved off the Great Depression.
 
In the ATL, we alternate historians are sure that if only Herbert Hoover had run in 1928, the "Great Engineer" could have staved off the Great Depression.

And instead of Hoovervilles there would be "Coolidgevilles." Otherwise Coolidge is second to FDR (who presumably is still elected) as the longest serving US President, but he would be regarded as one of the worst. In fact I think he would be even worse in his response to the Depression than Hoover.
 
He would very likely handle the depression better than Hoover. People forget that before Smoot-Hawley, the economic downturn was only a recession, not yet nearly what it would become. Unemployment was under 8% and falling at the time (it would later peak at well above 20%). If we assume that for some reason or another Coolidge being elected butterflies the Smoot Hawley act (or that Coolidge just takes the advice of the 1,000 economists who begged Hoover not to sign it), then theres a very strong case to be made that the TTL Great Depression resembles the 2008 recession more so than it does the OTL Great Depression. Then of course theres also the problem of the deflation happening at the time, but I think that problem wouldn't become so terrible if it weren't for Smoot Hawley act.
 
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He would very likely handle the depression better than Hoover. People forget that before Smoot-Hawley, the economic downturn was only a recession, not yet nearly what it would become. Unemployment was under 8% and falling at the time (it would later peak at well above 20%). If we assume that for some reason or another Coolidge being elected butterflies the Smoot Hawley act (or that Coolidge just takes the advice of the 1,000 economists who begged Hoover not to sign it), then theres a very strong case to be made that the TTL Great Depression resembles the 2008 recession more so than it does the OTL Great Depression. Then of course theres also the problem of the deflation happening at the time, but I think that problem wouldn't become so terrible if it weren't for Smoot Hawley act.
According to wikipedia, Smoot Hawley did reduce exports and imports by 67%.

Of course at the same time the same article also says that imports only made up 4% of GNP and exports only made up 5% of GNP and that many economists such as Friedman believes that is was monetary policy that is mostly responsible for worsening the depression, not tariffs.
 
According to wikipedia, Smoot Hawley did reduce exports and imports by 67%.

Of course at the same time the same article also says that imports only made up 4% of GNP and exports only made up 5% of GNP and that many economists such as Friedman believes that is was monetary policy that is mostly responsible for worsening the depression, not tariffs.
I did bring up the deflation. The Smoot Hawley act was in many ways the jumping off point for the depression. Also, lets remember that if exports and imports are a combined 9% of GNP and then they fall by 67%, thats a 6% drop in GNP. Which is pretty huge. For example US GDP (not GNP, but close enough for comparison) in the 2008 recession fell only ~2.5%.
 
Two things that are true about Smoot-Hawley:

(1) It wasn't a good idea.

(2) It didn't cause the Great Depression and probably didn't even deepen it that much.
See my posts at https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/no-1930-smoot-hawley-tariff-act-no-great-depression.324772/#post-9529921 and

https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/ahc-wi-hoover-as-a-multi-term-president.348959/#post-10976875

But in any event that is irrelevant to the differences between a Coolidge administraion and a Hoover one because Coolidge was a protectionist and would undoubtedly have signed the bill.

I'll recycle two old posts of mine:

***
(1) Coolidge's whole record was pro-tariff; he not only supported Fordney-McCumber https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fordney–McCumber_Tariff but implemented it in a very protectionist way: "Fordney-McCumber let the president raise or lower individual tariffs, and when Coolidge used this power he almost always raised them. Coolidge also inherited (and declined to change) a Tariff Commission populated with representatives of the industries it controlled—-an unholy arrangement that lasted until eventually Congress cried foul." https://books.google.com/books?id=ogc9EZf8Ry8C&pg=PA73

***

(2) AFAIK Coolidge never expressed opposition to Smoot-Hawley. Even a conservative defender of Coolidge states "We don't know his stand om the Smoot-Hawley tariffs." https://books.google.com/books?id=4CKHfGfNhIQC&pg=PT220 As I note below, Coolidge was still defending protectionism in late 1932, a few months before his death.

Nor would there be any reason to think, even based entirely on his record through 1924, that he was a free trader. Where did you get the idea that he vetoed a tariff bill? His only vetoes in 1924 listed at https://www.senate.gov/reference/Legislation/Vetoes/Presidents/CoolidgeC.pdf were of spending bills, notably the bonus bill. He wasn't altogether happy about the Revenue Act of 1924, but that was because he thought it didn't cut the income tax enough (and anyway he did sign it)--it had nothing to do with tariffs. Coolidge was worried that the government was taking in too much revenue, and he wanted to stop that by lowering income taxes, not lowering the tariff.

In addition, Coolidge's whole record had been protectionist. In 1922, he praised Alexander Hamilton and said that the Republicans were the descendants of the Federalist and Whig Parties, not of the laissez-faire Jeffersonians: "The party now in power in this country, through its present declaration of principles, through the traditions which inherited from its predecessors, the Federalists and the Whigs, through their achievements and through its own, is representative of those policies which were adopted under the lead of Alexander Hamilton[1]" https://www.coolidgefoundation.org/...sts-calvin-coolidge-and-the-full-dinner-pail/ Not surprisingly, he praised McKinley's protectionism, stating in 1923 "He [McKinley] at once revised the tariff and strengthened the law establishing the gold standard. Prosperity immediately returned. There was not only a domestic market but immense exports. The foreign trade increased more under the first term of McKinley than it had ever increased in any other four years." " Coolidge praised McKinley's “...application of his principle of a protective tariff, which furnished the initial opportunity for laying down of the greatest industries of America and the development of her entire resources.” Ibid. The GOP platform on which Coolidge ran in 1924 was strongly protectionist: "We reaffirm our belief in the protective tariff to extend needed protection to our productive industries....The enormous value of the protective principle has once more been demonstrated by the emergency tariff act of 1921 and the tariff act of 1922." https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/republican-party-platform-1924.

Calvin Coolidge was a protectionist before he became president, as his tributes (while still vice-president) to Hamilton and McKinley showed. He was of course a protectionist while he was president. And he was still a protectionist after leaving the presidency. "The greatest asset of our whole economic system is its effect upon commerce, agriculture, industry, the wage earner, and the farmer, and practically all our producers and distributors, is our incomparable home market. It has always been a fundamental principle of the Republican Party that this market should be reserved in the first instance for the consumption of our domestic products…Our only defense against the cheap production, low wages and low standard of living which exist abroad, and our only method of maintaining our own standards, is through a protective tariff. We need protection as a national policy, to be applied wherever it is required.[7]" Calvin Coolidge, “The Republican Case, The Saturday Evening Post, September 10, 1932,” https://www.coolidgefoundation.org/...sts-calvin-coolidge-and-the-full-dinner-pail/ This was just a few months before his death.

Calvin Coolidge was protectionist, protectionist, protectionist. There was no time he could reasonably have been seen as anything else. Period.
 
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bguy

Donor
What about Herbert Hoover? What does he do in this scenario? Does he stick it out in the Cabinet or end up resigning when he doesn't think Coolidge is doing enough to fight the Depression? And would he have a role in the Roosevelt Administration (Roosevelt did have several Republicans in his Cabinet after all) or is he going to be positioning himself to be the Republican presidential candidate in 1936 or 1940? (That may be difficult if he's seen knifing Coolidge in the back with a high profile resignation but then again the Republican bench is incredibly weak in both 1936 and 1940.)
 
What about Herbert Hoover? What does he do in this scenario? Does he stick it out in the Cabinet or end up resigning when he doesn't think Coolidge is doing enough to fight the Depression? And would he have a role in the Roosevelt Administration (Roosevelt did have several Republicans in his Cabinet after all) or is he going to be positioning himself to be the Republican presidential candidate in 1936 or 1940? (That may be difficult if he's seen knifing Coolidge in the back with a high profile resignation but then again the Republican bench is incredibly weak in both 1936 and 1940.)

Coolidge didn't like the "wonder boy" Hoover, so perhaps Hoover steps down in 1929 and he goes into state politics? I can see him being the Republican candidate in 1936. If Hoover stays on at Commerce or gets a promotion to Treasury, he could be the nominee in 1932. But he wouldn't do much better than he did IOTL as the incumbent President.
 
Coolidge didn't like the "wonder boy" Hoover, so perhaps Hoover steps down in 1929 and he goes into state politics? I can see him being the Republican candidate in 1936. If Hoover stays on at Commerce or gets a promotion to Treasury, he could be the nominee in 1932. But he wouldn't do much better than he did IOTL as the incumbent President.

@bguy Republican James Rolph won the 1930 California gubernatorial election by over 72%, after he primaried incumbent C.C. Young. I can see Hoover being elected California Governor in 1930, being re-elected in 1934, then being nominated for President by the Republicans in 1936.
 
Coolidge didn't like the "wonder boy" Hoover, so perhaps Hoover steps down in 1929 and he goes into state politics? I can see him being the Republican candidate in 1936. If Hoover stays on at Commerce or gets a promotion to Treasury, he could be the nominee in 1932. But he wouldn't do much better than he did IOTL as the incumbent President.
Its important to note here that if Coolidge runs again then FDR likely doesn't get elected governor. IOTL FDR won by 0.62%, with Coolidge being very popular and the incumbent in 1928, its fairly likely that even a small 2-3% swing towards Coolidge in NY compared to OTL could result in coattails making FDR lose.
 

bguy

Donor
Its important to note here that if Coolidge runs again then FDR likely doesn't get elected governor. IOTL FDR won by 0.62%, with Coolidge being very popular and the incumbent in 1928, its fairly likely that even a small 2-3% swing towards Coolidge in NY compared to OTL could result in coattails making FDR lose.
That's true but New York at that time had gubernatorial elections every two years. Thus FDR would potentially have another chance to get elected governor in 1930, and even two years as governor of the most populous state would make him a plausible presidential candidate in 1932. (After all the last Democrat to get elected president had served for only two years as Governor of New Jersey prior to his election, so it's not like the Democrats at that time were opposed to running a candidate who hadn't been a governor for very long.)


Coolidge didn't like the "wonder boy" Hoover, so perhaps Hoover steps down in 1929 and he goes into state politics? I can see him being the Republican candidate in 1936. If Hoover stays on at Commerce or gets a promotion to Treasury, he could be the nominee in 1932. But he wouldn't do much better than he did IOTL as the incumbent President.

Would Hoover even want to run in 1932 or 1936 given how those were obviously going to be Democratic years? (Obviously IOTL he was willing to run in those election cycles, but that was after his reputation had already been destroyed so he really had nothing to lose. A Herbert Hoover who isn't universally reviled for the Great Depression might be a little more cautious about risking his reputation on a hopeless election.)
 
Would Hoover even want to run in 1932 or 1936 given how those were obviously going to be Democratic years? (Obviously IOTL he was willing to run in those election cycles, but that was after his reputation had already been destroyed so he really had nothing to lose. A Herbert Hoover who isn't universally reviled for the Great Depression might be a little more cautious about risking his reputation on a hopeless election.)

At first it looked like 1936 would be close, so Hoover would run if it looked like he had a chance against Roosevelt. (And at 62, he might not want to wait for 1940 when he'll be 66).
 
That's true but New York at that time had gubernatorial elections every two years. Thus FDR would potentially have another chance to get elected governor in 1930, and even two years as governor of the most populous state would make him a plausible presidential candidate in 1932. (After all the last Democrat to get elected president had served for only two years as Governor of New Jersey prior to his election, so it's not like the Democrats at that time were opposed to running a candidate who hadn't been a governor for very long.)
Perhaps FDR runs in 1930 and wins, but that far from a certainty. For example with a GOP governor in NY maybe Al Smith runs to take back the governor spot in 1930. Between a former governor Al Smith and a losing candidate FDR, Smith could very well win. It is possible FDR still comes to national prominence if he loses in 1928, but I wouldn't consider it likely.
 
Its important to note here that if Coolidge runs again then FDR likely doesn't get elected governor. IOTL FDR won by 0.62%, with Coolidge being very popular and the incumbent in 1928, its fairly likely that even a small 2-3% swing towards Coolidge in NY compared to OTL could result in coattails making FDR lose.

Would Coolidge necessarily do better than Hoover, who won over 58% of the vote? (4% more than Coolidge's vote total in 1924, though that was an unusual three way race between the GOP, the Democrats, and Bob La Follette). Coolidge was more conservative than Hoover, which is not likely to have more appeal in a state that was trending towards the Democrats. Roosevelt could lose, but he could still win the Governorship in 1928.
 
Would Coolidge necessarily do better than Hoover, who won over 58% of the vote? (4% more than Coolidge's vote total in 1924, though that was an unusual three way race between the GOP, the Democrats, and Bob La Follette). Coolidge was more conservative than Hoover, which is not likely to have more appeal in a state that was trending towards the Democrats. Roosevelt could lose, but he could still win the Governorship in 1928.
Hoover actually won 6% less of the vote in NY than Coolidge did four years earlier in a year with a strong third party candidate. Now, you have to take into account the fact that in 1928 Hoover was running against the NY governor, but considering Coolidge's popularity at the time, its pretty safe to assume he'd perform slightly better than Hoover imo.

FDR could definitely run again in 1930, and then win easily. However I would say just assuming that to be the most likely scenario is trying to force OTL version of history.
 

bguy

Donor
At first it looked like 1936 would be close, so Hoover would run if it looked like he had a chance against Roosevelt. (And at 62, he might not want to wait for 1940 when he'll be 66).

Did anyone in the know actually think 1936 was going to be close? Arthur Vandenberg was quoted as saying that "the Republican Party hasn't got a chance this year", and Senator Bennett Clark reportedly congratulated Vandenberg (on the latter declining to be considered for the vice presidency) "for choosing not to ride in the back seat of a hearse."

Perhaps FDR runs in 1930 and wins, but that far from a certainty. For example with a GOP governor in NY maybe Al Smith runs to take back the governor spot in 1930. Between a former governor Al Smith and a losing candidate FDR, Smith could very well win. It is possible FDR still comes to national prominence if he loses in 1928, but I wouldn't consider it likely.

If Smith does decide to run for Governor in 1930 and beats out FDR then who do you think the Democrats run for president in 1932. I can't see them running Smith again after the drubbing he took in 1928, McAdoo is probably too old, and Garner probably too southern and anti-labor to get the nomination.
 
Coolidge likely makes at least some of Hoover's biggest errors, namely signing the Tariff Act into law.
 
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