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Polk

Today the supercommittee officially admitted defeat, leading to fears of drastic cuts to domestic and defense budgets as well as of further downgrades to the U.S. credit rating. It seems as if the committee members and both political parties are more concerned with pinning the blame on each other than actually solving the crisis. I know I'm sounding cynical, and there are some productive aspects of Congress (such as deciding pizza is a vegetable), but its 9% approval rating says it all. 

 

There has always been political bickering, slandering, mudslinging, and finger-pointing in American politics ever since the beginning of American democracy. In perspective, the slandering of our time is relatively tame compared to that of our democratic history, but this didn't stop the efficiency of many of our past leaders. Most notable of these leaders is Polk, whom I consider to be one of the greatest Presidents of the United States.

 

Polk was probably the only president to accomplish all of the goals he defined, with astounding efficiency and in the face of heavy Whig opposition. He was able to expand the U.S. into a transcontinental force, increasing its landmass by a third (over 800,000 square miles of western territory) in four years. Polk pressured Great Britain into giving the U.S. the Oregon Territory up to the 49th parallel in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, and promptly launched the Mexican-American War, forcing Mexico to cede half of its territory (including New Mexico and California) to the United States in the Treaty of Guadulupe Hidalgo. He also lowered the tariff and reestablished the Independent Treasury System, but most of all, he made good on his promise that he would only serve as president for one term. After his four years were up, Polk declined to run for presidency again and returned to Tennessee.

 
Our political "leaders" today, especially in the in the supercommittee, can learn a lot from Polk. They need to be leaders who focus on getting the job done regardless of political mudslinging, not bickering politicians who are primarily concerned with covering their own behind at the sake of others.