By: Dylan Shearer
The History of the United States is taught in public schools as The History of The Presidency. While there have been several overt moves to remedy this, Black History Month, the addition of women’s history sidebars in textbooks, these pedagogical Band-Aids fall well short of the panacea that is sorely needed in American historical education. Disregarding the fact that until 2008 a Presidential History of the United States would have focused solely on white men, and until 2016, fingers semi-crossed (H. Clinton’s ascension to the neo-liberal crown and its problems should be saved for another article) men, there are still huge problems with this type of history. Mainly, that a Presidential history creates in the minds of most individuals, a heroic aura around the office of President. And while post-Nixon, this sort of unwavering trust in the office of the President has ebbed, it has made a troubling return in recent years. This slow return to the idol worship of yore is a dangerous one and needs to be combated, with the Democrats and Republicans falling into these sorts of rhetorical traps.
To help the fight against demagoguery in some small way, I thought I’d compile a list of some evil shit that every president has done. And while Presidents may do good things once they’re out of office (see Jimmy Carter), there has never been a single “good” President (I’m not even sure there could be a good President, but, once again, that’s another article). The best ranking I’d give a President, is “not bad”. I’m using my definition of good here, which essentially boils down to a Judeo-Christian moral code without all the sex/race/gender bullshit. So without further ado, here is at least one reason why every President Ever has been not good.
The List: (Up To Lincoln add-in “Didn’t end slavery” as the first item)
1. George Washington
Suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion without trying to compromise or work with them. Owned slaves and killed a lot of Native Americans. Showed that the American Revolution was not a real Revolution but simply a transfer of power from one elite class to another. A not bad President.
2. John Adams
Signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were a tremendous affront to 1st Amendment rights. Bungled with the XYZ affair.
3. Thomas Jefferson
Implemented a complete Embargo on all foreign goods. Started Manifest Destiny with the Louisiana Purchase. Forcibly removed and killed Native Americans. Owned and raped his slaves. His own Vice President got committed on treason charges.
4. James Madison
Love to be Patrician
Almost lost the War of 1812 and saw Washington, D.C burned. Owned hundreds of slaves. Massacred Native American. Allowed the Star Spangled banner to become the national anthem. It’s a shitty national Anthem. Created a standing U.S. Military, paving the way for the U.S. Military Industrial complex.
5. James Monroe
Created the Monroe Doctrine an imperialist international relations policy that forcibly fucked over South America for a good couple hundred years. Started the first Seminole War and though Native Americans were “savages”.
6. John Quincy Adams
Q. Adams gets a lot of undue credit from intellectuals for being somewhat anti-slavery (only post-Presidency) and not swearing the oath of office on a bible but on a book of constitutional law. In truth, he lost the popular vote, shouldn’t have been elected, and was a completely ineffectual ponce as President. Most of his policies, especially the so-called Tariff of Abominations, directly led to the election of Andrew Jackson four years later. He was a pretty good Secretary of State and Representative though. He gets a coveted “not bad” rating.
7. Andrew Jackson
This fucking asshole. There’s a strain of revisionist history/political commenting that’s been happening for a while that tries to frame Andrew Jackson as some sort of “People’s President”. This is a joke. Dude was just a giant prick. He started the Trail of Tears, disobeying the Supreme Court in the process, completely gutted the National Bank system leading to a huge depression and was a general all around scumbag. A complete scumbag.
8. Martin Van Buren
Our First Hobbit President
Essentially a wonkier Jackson, Van Buren was a stooge for Jackson's policies. Got left with the economic problems of Jackson’s reign and wasn’t able to deal with them at all. Fucked up the Amistad case, killed and forced out a lot of Native Americans. Actively hated being the President.
9. William Henry Harrison
This fucking idiot. Harrison essentially got elected because he was good at killing Native Americans. On the day of his Inauguration he proceeded to proceed to give a 2-hour speech in a cold rain, and came down with pneumonia. He died like 32 days later. He gets a “not bad”, but only because he wasn’t around long enough to do anything.
10. John Tyler
Really believed in all the Manifest Destiny nonsense and worked tirelessly to expand the American Empire. Appointed John C. Calhoun to Secretary of State which is something that only an idiot racist would do.
11. James K. Polk
Forcibly annexed a bunch of territory from Mexico. Vetoed internal development acts by congress, which would have helped the economy tremendously. Was a big fan of slavery. Bought more slaves as president then he did before his election.
12. Zachary Taylor
Killed by snacks
Killed himself by eating cherries and milk. Didn’t do anything at all in the little over a year he was in office except avoid things.
13. Millard Fillmore
All these early-mid 1800’s presidents were completely ineffectual and actively bad including Fillmore. His biggest sin, of many, was supporting the Fugitive Slave Law, and the Compromise of 1850 which delayed the Civil War and supported slavery.
14. Franklin Pierce
Tried to annex Cuba. Loved the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which was shitty and sucked. Didn’t know what the hell to do when Bleeding Kansas happened.
15. James Buchanan
We had the Trinity Killer as our President
An actual idiot. Thought that secession was illegal but also that going to war to stop it was also illegal. Everyone hated him. Oversaw the start of the Civil War and did jackshit about it. Loved the Court decision on Dred Scott.
16. Abraham Lincoln
Couldn’t have given a shit about ending slavery and only did it when it became politically expedient to do it. And he only ended slavery in territory that the Union didn’t control. Ineffectual military leadership meant that the war drug on and cost way more lives than it probably should have. Suspended Habeas Corpus and enacted a fucking Flat Tax of all damn things. Gets a not bad rating, though.
17. Andrew Johnson
In his eagerness to allow the Confederate fuckers back into the Union he helped make sure that Reconstruction could never succeed and set back race relations in American another couple hundred years. Falsely accused Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens of trying to assassinate him.
18. Ulysses S. Grant
A proto-Warren G. Harding. Loved to give his corrupt friends money and job. Also started an economic depression. Tried and failed to annex the Dominican Republic. Huge expansionist. Couldn’t keep Reconstruction going in any sort of helpful way.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
Ended Reconstruction so that he could become President. All in all a giant asshole. Lost the popular vote but Congress awarded him the Presidency if he promised to end Reconstruction. Crushed a railroad strike using federal power. Broke Mexico’s sovereignty in search of bandits almost causing a war.
20. James A. Garfield
President for 7 months so didn’t really do anything.
21. Chester A. Arthur
Our first Walrus Man President
Severely reduced immigration into the country. Had a federal budget surplus of $145 million (a huge amount at the time) and couldn’t figure anything to do with it other than lower tariffs a little and build a few canals. Loved the spoils system. In general just didn’t do anything and left most of the decisions up to Congress.
22. Grover Cleveland 1st term
Vetoed a bunch of Congressional acts trying to give veterans pensions. Also refused to help Texas farmers after a huge drought because of “limited government or some nonsense. Refused to help Reconstruction grow and it as a failed thing. Hated Chinese immigrants
23. Benjamin Harrison
Loved the Monroe Doctrine and helped bring about/keep in place the Banana Republics. Created a depression during Cleveland’s 2nd presidency by forcing the U.S. to rely on silver and making it lose pretty much all of it’s gold reserves. Oversaw the Wounded Knee Massacre. Enacted the Dawes Act.
24. Grover Cleveland 2nd term
Promoted the repeal, and succeeded in getting repealed a bunch of voting rights law. Used federal troops to break up the Pullman workers Strike.
25. William McKinley
Got suckered into the Mexican-American War. Kept us on the gold standard for absolutely no fathomable reason. Supported the military takeover of Hawaii. Very much furthered the U.S’s imperialist aims.
26. Theodore Roosevelt
Right before he murdered a Cape Buffalo
Incredibly imperialist. Loved to needlessly expand the Navy. Had a narrowly moralistic view of Law and Order. Refused to enforce the 15th Amendment. Huge proponent of racial science bullshit. Bullied Panama into giving us the Panama Canal zone. Overall, though a “not bad” president.
27. William Howard Taft
Worked on, and succeeded in making a fair amount of South American states solely financially dependent on the U.S. Actively removed any black federal employees white people complained about and refused to hire any.
28. Woodrow Wilson
Completely fucked up the end of WWI, failing to get the League of Nations of the ground and helping create the political/economic vacuum in Germany that led to the rise of Hitler. Also incredibly and viscously racist. Enacted the draft.
29. Warren G. Harding
This idiot loved corruption. Teapot Dome, Albert Fall, Harry Daugherty, to name a few. Also hated unions. So a real dick.
30. Calvin Coolidge
After Harding died he kept literally everyone but one person from his corrupt staff because he didn’t think he had the right to get rid of them. Excluded any Japanese from immigrating to the U.S. Hated any regulation of business at all. Which led to the development of the Gilded 20’s and lassiez-faire’s eventual downfall in the Great Depression. Completely bungled the handling of the aftermath of Great Mississippi Flood
31. Herbert Hoover
Richie Rich all grown up.
Had literally zero elected office experience. Very pro-Prohibition. Signed Smoot-Hawley into effect, which pretty much destroyed the economy with insanely high tariffs and helped usher in the Great Depression. Opposed federal anti-lynching laws. Oversaw the forced migration of about 500,000 Mexican immigrants
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Japanese American internment camps. Tried to pack the Supreme Court. Oversaw the development of the Modern American Military Industrial Complex. Did nothing to end lynching and disenfranchisement in the south. If he hadn’t died most likely would have kept running for president and winning until he did.
33. Harry S. Truman
Dropped the Atomic bomb twice killing millions of civilians and helping the United States lose whatever moral high ground it had during WWII. Formulated the Truman Doctrine which directly led to the installment of U.S. back dictators in countless South Asian, Central and South American countries. Helped McCarthy come to power completely gutting the State Department and a loss of 1st Amendment rights.
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
This fucker loved military arms. Wanted to kiss and hug them. Led coups in Iran and Guatemala. Escalated the nuclear arms race to incredibly dangerous proportions, making the Cuban Missile crisis possible. Pushed us further in Vietnam. Spoke against the Military Industrial Complex after actively working to spread it’s power.
35. John F. Kennedy
Coked up to his gills during most of his presidency. Give the go on the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Escalated Vietnam to a huge degree. Allowed his brother to start illegally wiretapping MLK. The first president to sell arms to Israel.
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
Was this close to being a good President but got so bogged down in the Vietnam War that he effectively ended the Civil Rights Era of American Politics. Increased the American Military Industrial Complex to never before seen levels.
37. Richard Nixon
The V is for vile
I have to do this one for you? This is like the one President, US public schools will admit is bad. What a freak show. His handlers had to pretty much hide the nuke codes from him so he wouldn’t bomb every other South Asian country. A real dick.
38. Gerald Ford
Wasn’t even elected to the damn office. Could barely get his own Vice President sworn in. Pardoned Nixon. Covered up a bunch of CIA domestic shit-haggling.
39. Jimmy Carter
The quintessential “did some good shit after the presidency” President. Not even the first Jimmy that shows up in the Google search suggestions. Oversaw the invention of Stagflation, a new form of economic fuckery that plunged the nation into a recession and paved the way for Reagan’s presidency. Not to mention the energy Crisis, the Iran Hostage Crisis and reigniting the Cold War.
40. Ronald Reagan
Literally the reason the crack and AIDS epidemic lasted so long. And like 1000 other reasons that this idiot was the not good. The Star Wars program. Forced states to raise their tax rates through the roof because he was so hell bent on devolving every single government program to the states. Has become such a symbol of the GOP that every single GOP candidate for office has to kiss his corpse on the lips before they take office.
41. George H.W. Bush
Appointed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court which in and of itself but him into the bad territory. Invaded Panama. The only President to successfully veto a civil rights act. Had Dan “I can’t spell Potato” Quayle as his Vice President.
42. Bill Clinton
Oversaw massive amounts of controlled growth that had nothing to do with his policies and took credit for it. His lack of control created the massive recession that happened at the end of W. Bush’s term. Signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which has consistently fucked over black and Hispanic people since its inception. Signed NAFTA into being which signaled the death knell of American manufacturing.
43. George W. Bush
Iraq War, baby. A cocaine addict, allegedly, puppethead, who, while being controlled by his neocon masters started the defining world political event of the 21st Century. Baby bush completely fucked the Middle East for the next 200 years and helped create and the domestic environment that allowed Donald Trump’s rise to prominence.
44. Barack Obama
Continued George Bush’s neoliberal economic policies, which while raising the unemployment rate, only increased the wage gap and weakened the power of domestic labor even further. Oversaw a failed coup in Guatemala, continued to support the Saudi Arabian dictatorship. Oversaw the continuation and advancement of the drone program, which has killed hundreds/thousands of civilians. Failed to reform the banks post recession. But he’s “cool” so it’s fine.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list but it’s still fairly representative of all the douche-fuckery that every President has done, and most likely will continue to do.
 Hillary Clinton’s “With Her” being just one small example. The President works for us, we don’t work for her. It’s at the edge of idol worship.