Wilsonis one of the most renowned U.S. politicians, and his popularity canbe attributed to his ability to initiate numerous economic and policyreforms. He served as the governor of New Jersey between 1911 and1913 and the 28thU.S. president (Uwizenyimana 165). He was born in 1856 and died inthe year 1924. The state government of the New Jersey was headed byRepublican governors since 1893, before Wilson, who was a Democrat.During Wilson’s time as a governor, the party bosses had a lot ofinfluence on the state government and affected the nature of thepolicies as well as laws that were enacted (Clements 1). However,Wilson used the idea of bringing the independence of the office ofthe governor from the party bosses as a major campaign agenda. Thisgave Wilson a lot of popularity since it was perceived that he couldbring objectivity, transparency, and efficiency in governance. Apartfrom the concept of “machine politics” where the government wasinfluenced by the political parties, the state leadership wascharacterized by rampant corruption and corporate lobbying.
Interms of customs, Wilson can be described as an “unreconstructedlySouthern” in values, which his parents acquired after moving toVirginia in the year 1948 (Clements 1). Religion was and has remainedstrong in the South where Wilson grew up. He also lived in North andSouth Carolina between 1870 and 1874, which strengthened his Southernvalues. He was brought by a father, who was a pastor of Southerncongregations. His father taught him beliefs, customers, and values(including predestination, belief in providence, and the significanceof secession) that were commonly held by people living in thesouthern states (Clements 1). In addition, the society in whichWilson grew up was quite stratified and conservative, given that mostof the residents were ordinary farmers and their settlement patternswere defined by land ownership. The Southern people were polite andwell-mannered, but resistant to change.
Actionsand their Consequences
Mostof the notable actions that Wilson took between 1898 and 1918 werepolitical in nature. For example, his first action after beingelected as the governor in 1911 was to declare the independence ofthe state government from the bosses of the political parties. Thiswas reinforced by a legislation that required all elected officialsto go through direct party primaries, instead of being endorsed bypolitical bosses (Clements 1). In addition, Wilson pushed for theenactment of Corrupt Practices Act that mandated all politicalcandidates to submit their financial statements. The act also limitedthe amount of money that could be spent on political campaigns andoutlawed contributions made by corporations. The consequences ofthese actions that led to political reforms were positive, which isconfirmed by the support that Wilson received from the members of thepublic when he vied for the presidency in 1913.
Anotherseries of actions that are unforgettable include the Wilson’sadoption of the neutrality policy that prevented the U.S. fromintervening in the conflicts that led to the World War I. Headvocated for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Many Americanslost their lives following the attacks on ships by the German troops,which indicated the inability of Wilson to carry out hisconstitutional mandate of protecting the Americans. He failed toutilize Article 1 of the U.S. constitution to seek for the authorityof the Congress to declare war and protect the citizens from foreignaggressors (National Constitution Center 1). The consequences ofthese actions and inactions were the loss of political popularity,public criticism, and the death of more citizens.
Theability of Wilson to push for the formulation as well as theenactment of the Corrupt Practices Act is significant to-date becausethe leaders of the political parties are no longer able to put thegovernors under pressure as they pursue their personal interestsafter elections. In addition, the limit on the amount of money thatpoliticians can spend on campaigns has become a common practice, notonly in the New Jersey, but also in other states. This measure hasgone a long way in reducing corruption in the political systems(Clements 1). Lobbying that is done by corporations is still acontroversial issue in the political system. However, the effortsmade by Wilson in abolishing this practice sensitized thestakeholders and members of the public about the negative side ofexcessive lobbying. Although the adoption of the neutrality act wascriticized by politicians, it has created a perception that the U.S.does not involve the military force as a first reaction to conflictstaking place outside its borders. Therefore, Wilson set a precedencethat will continue being emulated by other leaders.
WoodrowWilson is among the U.S. politicians who served the country and theirrespective states during critical times. He took over the office ofthe governor when corruption was rampant and the interference of thestate government by party bosses was a common practice. In addition,Wilson became the president at a time when the U.S. needed to decidewhether there was a need to intervene in conflicts that culminated inthe World War I. Most of his actions are considered as legal becausehe pushed for the formulation of legislations before taking them. Foran instant, he could only manage to bring the independence of thestate government from the party bosses and curb corruption by pushingfor the formulation of the Corrupt Practices Act. His actions playeda key role in shaping the modern U.S.
Clements,K. : Life before the presidency. MillerCenter.2016. Web. 14 November 2016.<http://millercenter.org/president/biography/wilson-life-before-the-presidency>
NationalConstitution Center. World War I starts, America watches and worries.NCC.28 July. 2014. Web. 14 November 2016.<http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2014/07/world-war-i-starts-america-watches-and-worries/>
Uwizenyimana,E. “The politics-administration dichotomy: Was misunderstood or misquoted? Journalof U.S.-China Public Administration10.2 (2013): 165-173. Print.