Presidential Libraries: Treason to a Republic ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Presidential libraries symbolize so much that is wrong about our present-day republic: abuse, corruption, and decadence. For my money, a presidential library is treason, bribery, and a high crime and misdemeanor. A real republican leads because he is needed. When he is done, he does not ask for a monument. (essay by Bradley Birzer)
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[Full confession–I have a honorific from the Reagan Presidential Library, so I’m being a bit hypocritical]

One thought on “Presidential Libraries: Treason to a Republic ~ The Imaginative Conservative”

  1. I have to respectfully disagree with you, Brad. I think the Presidential Library system, despite its faults, is a great way for National Archives to put sizable portions of its collections in archives out into flyover country and away from Satan’s throne in Washington, D.C. The museums create opportunities to learn about our leaders in a more personal way. Plus, every artifact in the NARA run presidential museums is public domain, so having a place to display those artifacts is a way to allow citizens to engage with their country’s history. The libraries and museums are also not built with public funds. They are built by the President’s personal foundation, and then NARA pays the costs of keeping it open. The foundations still help fund aspects of the museums’ operations, such as funding valuable internship programs (which I participated in at the Gerald Ford museum this past summer). Yes, NARA has its problems, but most of those problems lie in Washington with the bureaucrats. They also need to do a better job of increasing diversity of thought in who they employ, especially when it comes to publishing official narratives regarding these presidents in the form of museum exhibits. I’ve heard from people inside the system that they aren’t particularly happy with the portrayal of Lyndon Johnson, who was a pig of a man and a horrible person and president. It sounds like it is far too generous to his legacy.

    Regarding the Obama library – he has set a dangerous precedent by not donating everything to the American people via National Archives. Rather, he’s giving it to his foundation who will then get to write a Newspeak narrative about him. Plus, the library won’t even have archival documents for people to use. Perhaps that is treasonous and filled with bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors, but I don’t think the whole concept of a Presidential Library and Museum is such a horrible idea. Sure, there are ways it can improve, but these museums/libraries can serve a valuable teaching role. I’d much rather have more physical archives and museums run by NARA than the thousands of bureaucrats they have in DC who have nothing to do with archival processing or helping people conduct research. That’s where the corruption is rather than in these museums.

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