Notes from the Editor
People find Theodore Roosevelt an appealing, admirable figure for a variety of reasons. This reality is reflected in the Theodore Roosevelt Association’s large and diverse membership, which encompasses Republicans, Democrats, independents, and citizens of foreign countries.
Many TR admirers are highly enthusiastic about certain aspects of Roosevelt’s life, career, principles, policy positions, and political actions and less so about other aspects. Different individuals might embrace with particular excitement the story of Roosevelt’s youth and young adulthood, or his lifelong spirit of adventure, or his family life as a husband and father, or his courage and effectiveness as the commander of the Rough Riders in 1898, or his path-breaking Square Deal accomplishments in the area of domestic policy reform, or his uniquely outstanding record as a conservationist, or his brilliance and farsightedness as a naval builder and strategic thinker and diplomatist, or his dramatic and consequential post-presidential decade, or his remarkable literary career, or the high level of character he exhibited throughout his sixty years.
Of course, there also are many who embrace Theodore Roosevelt in his entirety, a group I would label “all-in Rooseveltians,” a classification I claim for myself. All-in Rooseveltians genuinely laud TR’s commitments to a powerful U.S. military and to a major global leadership role for the United States and his commitments to progressive domestic policies and to far-reaching environmental stewardship. They believe as well in the centrality of character in evaluating a person and in “practical idealism” pursued boldly through orderly constitutional methods.
When I identify myself as an independent and am asked to elaborate, I sometimes say that I am a combination of a Theodore Roosevelt Republican and a Harry Truman Democrat. (Yes, regrettably, in my view the only great President of my lifetime left office when I was two years old.) My outlook on most policy issues and my voting decisions are guided to a large extent by my perception of the contemporary version of Rooseveltian thinking. True, there is no way to know with certainty what TR would have thought about any specific current issue, but still I am quite confident about my judgments in this regard. (I have plenty of practice in this area, because, like other TR authorities, I am frequently asked the question: “What would Theodore Roosevelt think about [a particular present-day policy issue or political figure]?”)
Thus, in every presidential and congressional primary and general election since 1976, I have consulted my inner Rooseveltian compass as part of the process of making my decisions. Most recently, in 2016, 2018, and 2020, I have posed to myself such questions as: Which candidates most closely embody a contemporary Rooseveltian outlook on global climate change, on taxation, on racial equity, on America’s social safety net, on gun violence, on U.S. power and diplomacy and alliances and resistance to hostile dictators, on the value of professional expertise in government service, on the imperative of faithfulness to the Constitution of the United States? Which candidates come closest to demonstrating the sort of character, principles, and leadership skills of which TR would wholeheartedly approve?
I will conclude by noting that, because I am an all-in Rooseveltian, it has been a thoroughgoing reinforcing experience for me to be an active member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association for the past forty years. And especially—endeavoring to carry on the legacy of the late all-in Rooseveltian Dr. John Gable—I have considered it a privilege and have found it very satisfying to serve since 2007 as the editor of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal.