I know most of you do not spend much time thinking about who was the worst or best president of the United States. Most of the time we make off-handed remarks about who we think is worst or best based on our own political ideology and the emotions caused by current events. G.W. Bush and B.H. Obama get a lot of votes and blame right now, because they are current in our minds. Historians are still arguing about who is best and worst. It is hard to be objective when there is so much criteria to choose from. Most presidents have a few opportunities to do some good things and a myriad of opportunities for failure.
What criteria would you use to decide who is best and worst? I have a few things that feel important to me, but others may have differing criteria. This is a list of things historians and academics often consider when they participate in surveys:
I would add handling foreign affairs and the moral of citizens.
This is a list of presidents generally considered the best and worst:
Abraham Lincoln Andrew Johnson
George Washington James Buchanan
Franklin Roosevelt Franklin Pierce
Teddy Roosevelt Millard Fillmore
Thomas Jefferson John Tyler
John Adams Hebert Hoover
Harry Truman Jimmy Carter
Dwight Eisenhower Barack Obama
Ronald Reagan George W Bush
James Madison Benjamin Harrison
One thing I see from my research is that historians think presidents get better the longer they are dead. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.
Some notable presidents left off either list are Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton. I intentionally left James Garfield and William Harrison off the list because they served less than a year in office. My hope is that our next president can join the list of the best. We need someone that will unite the citizens and heal some of the wounds that are driving us apart. A person with character and compassion with leadership skills is greatly needed. I have hope.