In his column “Calvin Coolidge Says” of 80 years ago on this day, the former president made a plea for self-government that is still pertinent today, and perhaps even more so than it was originally.
If some current statements are to be taken seriously we are expecting too much from free government. Notwithstanding the excellent practice of voting our ideals, nevertheless we have a representative government that must necessarily be about what we ourselves are. We demand entire freedom of action and then expect the government in some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts. We want the right to run our own business, fix our own wages and prices, and spend our own money, but if depression and unemployment result we look to government for a remedy.
We insist on producing a farm surplus, but think the government should find a profitable market for it. We overindulge in speculation, but ask the government to prevent panics. Now the only way to hold the government entirely responsible for conditions is to give up our liberty for a dictatorship. If we continue the more reasonable practice of managing our own affairs we must bear the burdens of our own mistakes. A free people cannot shift their responsibility for them to the government. Self-government means self-reliance.