Why JFK is the best president

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Paul Schutzer

John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign.

John F. Kennedy, most commonly referred to as JFK, won the 1960 election with both the popular vote and the electoral college. Although Kennedy’s presidency was cut short, due to his assassination after nearly three years as president, he is still hailed as one of the greatest presidents. 

JFK’s presidency was defined by his commitment to bettering America. Kennedy accomplished more in his 1036 days as president than most did in two terms. Kennedy’s commitment to equality was seen through his staunch support of civil rights and his drafting of the civil rights act of 1964, and his economic policy benefited Americans as a whole as he helped end the recession plaguing America. His foreign policy saw him stand up for the “little guys” of the world, and he is unequivocally the greatest president of modern America. 

Domestic Policy 

JFK’s presidency started during a recession, and his quick thinking and hands-on economic policy helped bring the recession to a swift end. Kennedy’s revenue act, which was proposed by him but was only passed posthumously, lowered taxes, yet still increased tax revenue for the government. JFK vigorously worked to open the St. Lawrence seaway, which not only combines US and Canadian seaways but is also a major source of hydroelectric energy to both nations.

JFK was a champion for the everyday person, advocating for better working conditions, more public housing, higher wages for workers, lower prices for goods, cheaper rent for the underserved and increased social security for the elderly. He worked hard to decrease poverty in the Appalachian region, an area that is plagued by extreme poverty.

Kennedy’s support of civil rights is admirable to say the least, submitting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to Congress, which was finally passed under LBJ after he died. One instance of his commitment to civil rights is the case of James Meredith. Meredith, a Black Air Force veteran enrolled in the then all-white University of Mississippi. Meredith became the first Black student admitted into racially segregated Ole Miss, and he did so under the protection of the national guard, who was deployed by Kennedy to let Meredith receive the education he deserved. 

Foreign Policy 

John F. Kennedy’s foreign policy included diplomatic and military initiatives in Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, all conducted amid considerable Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In his inaugural address, Kennedy encapsulated his Cold War stance: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

Kennedy also advocated financial aid for developing nations. He advocated extensive foreign aid to the emerging nations in Africa and Asia, and he surprised his colleagues by calling upon France to grant Algerian independence. He backed the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan but was sharply critical of the Truman administration’s record in Asia. He also proposed and passed Alliance for Progress for Latin America, a grant that aimed to establish economic cooperation between the U.S. and Latin America. It stressed the need for improved literacy, land use, industrial productivity, health and education. This helped improve the sour relations between Latin America and the US. Along with this, he founded and spearheaded the Peace Corps, promoting world peace and friendship.

However, JFK most predominate legacy was the Cold War Treaties he signed. He staunchly supported the easing of tensions for the Cold War, most notably by pioneering Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and more importantly convincing the Soviet Union and 44 other countries to sign it. By banning tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water, Kennedy took an important first step toward the control of nuclear weapons. He also mediated a heated West New Guinea land dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands.

Greatest Crisis 

In October 1962, the world was faced with one of the most dangerous and tense situations it had ever faced due to Soviet missile installations in Cuba. During this grim and anxious 13 day standoff, the Cuban Missile crisis had started and showed the consequences of nuclear weapons. With Cuba just 90 miles out off American shores it put Soviet missiles in range of major American cities where casualties would be at its highest.  Due to the escalated tensions the US reached the first and only ever Defcon 2 which states that armed forces are ready to be deployed and engaged within 6 hours and that there is only 1 more step until all-out nuclear war. If not handled properly, this situation could have been catastrophic and led life being altered forever. Although these tensions seemed immountable, President John F. Kennedy was able to defuse this situation peacefully while only having one U.S. combat casualty, 35-year-old pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson, who was shot down on a reconnaissance mission over Cuba. To stop soviet intervention in Cuba, President Kennedy formed a strategic U.S. blockade around Cuba. This proved to be beneficial as it stopped Soviets from entering Cuba and didn’t involve military action which would further escalate tensions. Furthermore, after this tense standoff with the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, President Kennedy was able to come to a peaceful resolution through negotiations in which the missiles would be removed from Cuba in exchange for the U.S. to not invade Cuba and remove nuclear missile sites from Turkey which were dangerously close to Soviet territory.  

Post Cuban missile crisis

In the following years after the crisis, President Kenendy was able to install a direct “hotline” communication link between Moscow and Washington to defuse similar situations from occurring. Furthermore, the easing of tensions resulted in the two superpowers signing two treaties relating to nuclear weapons which would help ease the palpable tensions of the Cold War. The actions displayed during the Cuban missile crisis not only shows how Kennedy was able to get out of one of the most dangerous crises in history through diplomatic negotiations but how he was also able to create new opportunities to further better this dangerous relationship between the two super powers. 

John F Kennedy was the youngest elected president in history. A Harvard graduate, war hero and Congressman, JFK marked the beginning of new hope for both equal rights and peace. His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II. His expert handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis prevented nuclear war and showed the Soviets the futility of nuclear blackmail. He pioneered the first treaty regarding nukes with the Soviet Union. A humanitarian, he funded programs to help developing countries in South American and Africa. Dozens of acts he started were passed by future presidents after his assassination. Look at all that he did in less than a thousand days as president. JFK is, by far, the greatest American president.