The Instigator
Wallstreetatheist
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
tinocurione
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Woodrow Wilson was a bad president.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Wallstreetatheist
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/22/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 15,796 times Debate No: 21367
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (6)

 

Wallstreetatheist

Pro

Resolution: Woodrow Wilson was a bad president.

Rules
: Debater must have typing experience.

Debater must have internet access.
No excuses or forfeitures.
Must structure the debate in a readable, coherent fashion.
Must insert one witty quote per round.


Rounds: (1) Acceptance + Internet High Five
(2) Main Argument
(3) Rebuttal to opponent's main argument
(4) Response to rebuttal + voting issues (one paragraph)


"Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program." -Milton Friedman


I accept this debate which I have thusly created and challenge those of rhetorical wizardry to a verbal duel.
With my hand elevated and ready for forearm pronation, I slap yours in a ritualistic manner.
Good luck to whomever accepts, and may the Gods smile upon you during this debate.

Let the game begin!
tinocurione

Con

High Five to my Opponent!

Determining whether or not a former President of the United States is bad or not is surely not an easy task because one has to first create a ruler by which one can measure how bad a President was. In this debate, it shall not be my task to prove that Woodrow Wilson was good, but rather that he was not a bad President. It will be Pro's responsibility to demonstrate President Wilson's badness when compared to other Presidents. I would assert that Bill Clinton was a bad President, and therefore would consider Wilson to be not-so-bad.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman!" – President Bill Clinton
Debate Round No. 1
Wallstreetatheist

Pro


Those who assess the quality of presidents are often impressed by communication skills and charisma. Both of those characteristics account for President Woodrow Wilson’s standing in several lists of good presidents. However, Wilson, like other presidents should be judged not on charisma, but on how his policies affect the nation and the world during his presidency and over the course of history. The policies were catastrophic.

The “ruler” with which I will categorically evaluate Wilson’s presidency are the criteria of peace, prosperity, and freedom. Peace allows human beings to be free from unnecessary suffering at the hands of other men and lays the foundation for sound economics and the protection of civil liberties. Prosperity increases the standard of living of humans within its scope and of trading nations. Freedom allows a human to exercise his protected rights in any manner he chooses (so long as it does not interfere with the exercise of the rights of others), and is a fundamental aspect of human nature’s desires. Wilson is scored negatively on all of these criteria; thus, making him a bad president.

Peace 1: Wilson decided to enter World War I.
In 1916, he ran for reelection of the slogan, “He kept us out of war,” but in April 1917, shortly after his narrow reelection and second inauguration, he asked Congress to declare war on Germany. As early as December 1916, the Germans desired peace talks, while wanting to keep the land they occupied in Belgium and France. But because Britain and France expected that United States entry into the war was likely and would turn the tide of the war in their favor, they rejected Germany’s settlement. If the US had stayed out, the French and British would have been forced to take this settlement and end the war. As a result of US entry into the war, millions more men were killed in combat and billions of dollars was wasted in an effort to “win” the war. Because of the harsh reparation payments forced on Germany to get the US war loans from Britain and France, the the usurpation of its foreign lands, and the stringent control of Germany’s industry, World War II was essentially created by the Treaty of Versailles. Many historians trace the roots of World War II to the Treaty of Versailles of which he was an integral supporting member.


Peace 2: His military policies instigated decades of aftermath
While generating support for the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations, was oblivious to the fact that he would be held largely responsible for the largest, costliest, and bloodiest war in world history: World War II. World War I brought to power three monstrous dictators: Stalin, Lenin, and Hitler.
He also played a role in triggering the Russian Revolution and then meddles in the ensuring Russian Civil War, i.e. he inadvertently helped the communists take power initially in Russia and then made them hate the United States; thus, paving the way for a Cold War that lasted more than forty years. In that Cold War, two confirmed false nuclear launch signals from both countries was received which could have ended civilization in a nuclear holocaust.
He was the most interventionist president in United States history. He ordered military interventions in Mexico in 1914 and 1916, Nicaragua in 1914, Haiti in 1915, the Dominican Republic in 1916, Cuba in 1917, and many other military operations that have generated lasting animosity against the United States.
As a result of World War I and II, the Russian and Chinese revolutions, and civil wars and conflicts spawned by the Cold War (most of which can be traced to US entry into WWI) the twentieth century was by far the bloodiest century in world history. Even in the 21st century, people are still losing their lives in conflicts ( e.g. Iraq) indirectly generated by the US entry into WWI. If the loss of approximately 110 million lives is not enough to make you think Wilson was a bad president, we still have two more categories to go.


Prosperity 1: Promoted pre-war economic interventions.
Even before Wilson mobilized the entire economy to fight World War I, he was pursuing an activist domestic agenda contrary to the history of the Democratic Party, which had been a bastion of small government. Like Wilson’s faith-based foreign policy, which included total war,religion also fueled his missionary ardor for the progressive movement at home. He is among the three most legislatively active presidents in the 20th century, and with this came disastrous consequences of both progressive politics and its economic intervention. Decades after the idea of a national bank was buried, his “New Freedom” legislative agenda created the Federal Reserve System, which Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman showed to be the cause of the Great Depression, as it excessively expanded the money supply during the 1920’s. The Federal Reserve has also been proven to be the cause of the boom and bust business cycle, the financial crisis and the housing bubble among other economic fiascoes.

In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which allowed the return of the income tax. At first the tax was minimal, but then he (with inspiration from the Ten Planks of Communism) decided to get a more sharply graduated income and inheritance taxes passed. In a classic example of the “ratchet effect” (going up, but not going down), some of the high taxes on incomes and corporate profits were retained after the war extended. The tax continues to progress today, and is one of the primary causes of unemployment and economic sluggishness and deadweight loss.
His programs laid the groundwork for expanded government with his setting precedents of the FDA, Overman Act, Enemy Act, Fuel Control Act, and Railroad Administration, etc. His creation of agencies to try to fix problems inspired FDR’s New Deals which prolonged and exacerbated the great depression.


Freedom 1: Undermined constitutional check and balances.
Wilson used World War I to vastly enlarge the president’s powers. Under the National Defense Act of 1916, he could appoint all commissioned and noncomission officers of the National Guard. This encroachment subverted the states’ constitutional right to appoint the officers of the militia. The act effectively increased the president’s authority over the military and undermined the constitution’s provisions for ensuring some state control over militia as a counterbalance to federal power.

Freedom 2: Eroded civil liberties.
In US history, WWI and its after math were probably the worst times for the erosion of precious and unique American civil liberties. Conscription, a form of involuntary slavery, was resurrected from the Civil War. The Congress passes the selective service act of 1917, which authorized him to draft men against their will to fight in a distant war, thereby taking away their own liberty.
The Espionage act of 1917 and the sedition act of 1918 were “probably the most serious attacks on the civil liberties of Americans since the short-lived alien and sedition acts of 1798” during the administration of John Adams. Yet the Supreme Court upheld convictions under these unconstitutional WWI-era laws.

Freedom 3: Set bad policies toward blacks and women.
To Wilson, some racial groups were more equal than others. A Democrat originally from the South and a blatant white supremacist, he sought unsuccessfully to get Congress to pass legislation to restrict the civil liberties of African Americans.
During and after his administration, racial violence spiked, in some measure because of the racist tone he had set The results were lynching, anti-black race riots, and the emergence of the second KKK to dominate the Democratic party in the southern and western states.
Similarly, Wilson had women suffragists arrested, because of his blatant misogyny. But later, under intense continuing pressure, he campaigned for the 19th Amendment.

tinocurione

Con

Unfortunately, and all too often, it is true that American presidents are indeed evaluated by their charisma and personality.

My Opponent has created a "ruler" by which to measure the "badness" of his selected President Wilson. Although I agree that peace, prosperity and freedom are important values by which to judge a good presidency, I have to disagree with the idea that if peace, prosperity and freedom are disrupted during or after a presidency, that we should deem a President as bad. The reason for this is because Presidents are part of an administration, as well as a continuum.

Peace 1: The fact that Wilson had the intention to keep the USA out of war shows that he was not a warmonger like other Presidents who beat the war drums regularly. We must bear in mind that WW1 was heavily financed by American bankers and speculators who always have powerful influences in the government. Rather than having "decided" to enter the was, as suggested by my Opponent, Wilson was "pressured" to enter the war.

Peace 2: It is extremely harsh to place the blame for WW2 on President Wilson when in fact that war was purely created by conditions outside of the USA. America was dealing with the Great Depression while Europe and Asia were trying to develop their own political ideologies. With regards to being labeled the "Interventionist President" by my Opponent, I must return to my argument that all presidencies are part of a continuum. Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba were all pots boiling with conflict before the Wilson Administration. Again, Wilson had to respond to was he found on his table, despite the fact that he was a President that did not want to see America at war.

I commend my Opponent for having laid out such a strong and detailed argument. Because of time constraints, I will not address every issues because I want the audience to consider my point that Wilson should not be judged as bad when he is in fact part of an administration and continuum. That fact that he boasted with his slogan for having stayed away from war shows that as an individual he had his own ideas about how to govern his Nation, but that as a collective, the American Government is responsible for the good or bad outcomes of the decisions that are made collectively. President Wilson should only be judge a bad president based on the singular decisions he made through his executive powers, and not those that involved other branches of the government that voted collectively.
Debate Round No. 2
Wallstreetatheist

Pro

I would have liked to have a serious debate on this, but Con has disregarded the format of the rounds, making continuing the debate very difficult. He has also only rebutted two of my six contentions, so I will offer him a deal.


This is the format of the debate:

Rounds:
(1) Acceptance + Internet High Five

(2) Main Argument
(3) Rebuttal to opponent's main argument
(4) Response to rebuttal + voting issues (one paragraph)

Con should have posted a “main argument” on the reasons he deems Woodrow Wilson to be a good president, or at least not a bad president. However, he posted a rebuttal; this means that I have nothing to rebut, only a response to his rebuttal.
I would be willing to suspend the rules, and allow him to post his main argument in this round to which I will rebut in the next round, while responding to his rebuttal, and bringing up voting issues. He will respond to my rebuttal and bring up voting issues.


New round structure:
(3) Con’s main argument
(4) Pro’s response to opponent’s rebuttal, rebuttal, and voting issues
Con’s response to rebuttal and voting issues


If these are acceptable terms by the Con, please post the main argument in the next round.

Thank you.
tinocurione

Con

I would like to sincerely apologize to my Opponent for my ignorance when it comes to the history of traditional or professional debating. Although I was born in Italy, I grew up in the United States from a very early age. Despite this, I never made it beyond the 7th Grade. As a result, I never participated in, nor attended, a high school debate, a college debate or even a public or presidential debate. It can be said, with humor, that I am a "living room debater." It was later in life that I realized how valuable an education could have been and thus I became an autodidact.

Honestly, my Opponent is correct in saying that I have disregarded the format, because I truthfully do not understand it. My experience of debating is relegated to a friend introducing a topic and should I be opposed to his or her assertion, I would take the contrary position; this would usually take place in a "living room." (smile) The first time that I ever heard the term "resolved" in the context of debating was during the excellent film "The Great Debaters."

I will attempt to post a "main argument" in this Round, if I have understood what my Opponent has meant. Perhaps I will learn more about debating from this experience, or else I will avoid debates with rules and structures until I feel confident that I know what I am dealing with.

My main argument consists of the idea that we should not judge a President of the United States as bad unless we are to consider his individual decisions and powers as a President. My Opponent has made a clear statement about President Woodrow Wilson being bad, and not his government, administration or the congress under his rule. I would not argue that Woodrow Wilson was a good President because I do not consider any President of the United States as having been good. All American Presidents, including Obama, are responsible for the enslavement of Africans in America. America was built on slave labor and the only "good" President will be the one who addresses and resolves this issue through public acknowledgement, apologies and reparations.

What makes Woodrow Wilson a bad President? What executive decisions or lack of decisions have lead to negative outcomes? President Obama had the executive power to declare a moratorium on house foreclosures and chose not to, leading to millions of families losing their homes and hundreds of tent cities to spring up all over the United States. This for me defines a bad president. President Clinton could have used his personal power and influence to intervene in Rwanda and chose not to, having been fully informed of the situation at hand.

President Wilson found himself in a very tumultuous period in American history and it can be argued that his administration, and the congress under his watch, made some bad decisions, but my Opponent is left with the burden of demonstrating that President Wilson, as an individual, was a bad president.
Debate Round No. 3
Wallstreetatheist

Pro

UPHOLD

Peace 1: Wilson decided to enter World War I.
On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress with his “war message.” Four days later, the United States passed the War Resolution which brought the United States into the Great War. Wilson actually called the Congress into a special session to get us into war more quickly; he spoke, “It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts -- for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.”

Peace 2: His military policies instigated decades of aftermath. Virtually every historian who analyzes the second world war traces its groundwork to the Treaty of Versailles, a treat which would have not had to have been signed, if the United States didn’t enter world war one. Cross-apply what I stated in contention Peace 2 here.



CLASH

“My main argument consists of the idea that we should not judge a President of the United States as bad unless we are to consider his individual decisions and powers as a President.”

I agree with this sentiment, and so does my case. My case does not represent the entire US government’s collective decisions, but rather Woodrow Wilson’s terrible decisions such as his, “”Gestapo tactics he spit on the Bill of Rights and reduced the U.S. government to the status of a second-rate police state,” referencing the detention and execution of Italian, anarchist immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti who were convicted on scant evidence and later executed for murder. Woodrow Wilson set the worst policies of any US president in economics, freedom, and peace, the ramifications of which we still feel today.


“ I do not consider any President of the United States as having been good.”
There have been good US presidents; however, their policies are diametrically opposed to those of Woodrow Wilson.

“What makes Woodrow Wilson a bad President?”
It can be argued that Wilson screwed up the entire twentieth century and beyond. US involvement in WWI was instrumental in causing a violent twentieth century for the world; the decision to enter was entirely Wilson’s, in fact later studies showed no lobbying for the entrance into the war by the 100 largest US industrial companies.
Wilson also invented the presidential press conference which greatly expanded the chief executive’s “bully pulpit” and eventually led to the media’s excessive coverage of the president at the expense of the other branches of government.
His Espionage and Sedition Acts were serious attacks on civil liberties, and people needlessly died as a result of them.

“What executive decisions or lack of decisions have lead to negative outcomes?”
Previously stated reasons: setting up Federal Reserve, entering World War 1, and reneging civil liberties led to some of the worst outcomes in human history: World War two, one,Cold War, Nuclear build up, Iraq war, great depression, and further erosion of civil liberties.

Thanks!
tinocurione

Con

Peace 1: My Opponent does well to quote a speech presented to Congress by the very President in question. I consider it a good strategy because it would obviously appear to be conclusive evidence that President Wilson decided to enter World War I considering that he is saying it with his own mouth. However, we all know well that Presidential speeches are strategically written by a collective of advisors, all of whom are behind the scenes and who are themselves influenced by other groups.

Yes, President Wilson decided to enter the war, but was he responsible for the conditions that placed him in such an uncomfortable position? No! In 1909 the ironically named "Carnegie Endowment for International Peace" discussed the issue of war in depth, considering the pros and cons of such an endeavor. In the end, they resolved to focus on a final fundamental question: "How do we involve the United States in a war?" President Wilson was not present for this discussion.

The infamous Lusitania was sent to New York City where it was loaded with six million rounds of ammunition, owned by J.P. Morgan & Co., to be sold to England and France to aid in their war against Germany. Even Franklin Delano Roosevelt, serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Wilson, stated that, "The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson…" he continued to address the question of World War I by saying, "the country is going through a repetition of Jackson's fight with the Bank of the United States - only on a far bigger and broader basis."

My Opponent has cleverly hit a soft spot when raising the issue of Wilson's decisions that lead to the execution of those Italian immigrants. Being Italian myself, I find Wilson's policies distasteful.

My Opponent has also hit on a very important issue which I had not considered, nor am I willing, for the sake of winning a debate, to ignore or deny. The creation of the Federal Reserve under Wilson's watch is by far, as my Opponent states, one of the "worst policies of any US President in economics, freedom, and peace, the ramifications of which we still feel today."

My Opponent has met my challenge and I must concede that he has, in the end, convinced me that President Woodrow Wilson was indeed a bad President. My Opponent is well informed in the history of the period and has put forth a strong argument. I had hoped that I could steer the debate away from the "administrative decisions" of Wilson's presidency and focus on his individual powers and influence, but my strategy has lead to a dead end.

President Wilson openly stated that, "a great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom."

Wilson knowingly, and with malice aforethought, allowed for the creation of the Federal Reserve knowing that it would "destroy genuine economic freedom."

I thank my Opponent for this debate, commend him for his knowledge and encourage the public to vote in his favour.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
President Wilson was an ardent racist who segregated the civil service for the first time, fifty years after the Civil War. It would be tough to spin that as being "good."

Wilson introduced to politics the concept of marketing-oriented rather than issues-oriented campaigning. That remains to this day. Candidates try to sell the goals of programs rather than the mechanisms by which the goals are to achieved.

The debate should have had sources. Questions of fact were at issue.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
Done did dat.
I think what I've proposed to you in this debate is quite equitable. It gives you a chance to win based on rhetoric, not an automatic loss due to a technicality.
Posted by tinocurione 4 years ago
tinocurione
Please vote on my other debates.

http://www.debate.org...
Posted by tinocurione 5 years ago
tinocurione
Thanks for the welcome! I agree with you about the source wars. I like to discuss issues with people on a friendly level because I too am interested in how others think and reason.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
It wouldn't allow me to take bold off....
Also, this isn't a source war. I'm more interested (as well as the people on this site) with your logic, reasoning, and rhetoric than a list of sources.
Welcome to DDO!
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
WallstreetatheisttinocurioneTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession....
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 4 years ago
Man-is-good
WallstreetatheisttinocurioneTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I would like to give Con a point for conduct for being courteous and not distasteful or rude in custom but however also note that Con's misunderstanding of the debate uprooted the entire debate structure. Moreover, Con's contention raised interesting but ultimately useless points...Pro was NOT analyzing the deeds of the entire government but rather focusing on that of Woodrow Wilson and so forth. Finally, Con conceded, having realized the weight of Pro's arguments.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
WallstreetatheisttinocurioneTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con did present his main argument in R2. His argument is that presidents are part of a continuum and cant be judged. That's a weak argument, but the form of the argument is legit: "not bad or good" is an argument for "not bad." No matter, Con conceded. New aguments in last round are ignored.
Vote Placed by drafterman 4 years ago
drafterman
WallstreetatheisttinocurioneTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession
Vote Placed by Koopin 4 years ago
Koopin
WallstreetatheisttinocurioneTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Yes
Vote Placed by ConservativePolitico 4 years ago
ConservativePolitico
WallstreetatheisttinocurioneTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Concedes the point in the last round...