See here for the original post on this subject.
It’s difficult, of course, to define “radical” exactly. Are we talking about someone who is radical in his religious beliefs, his personal conduct, or merely his governing philosophy? Can a President be “radical” if he embraces a fringe view of economic policy, even if he is more or less “mainstream” on foreign policy?
Furthermore, a President’s own ideas are not always implemented; a radical man may implement mainstream policies because it is all he can get. Politics is the art of compromise, and so it is difficult to say with assurance which Presidents believed what radical ideas in their heart while never implementing them, and which Presidents were mainstream men, forced by circumstance to take radical action.
In assessing this, therefore, I based it off of Gingrich’s implicit assumption that “Socialism” is radical, and that the most Socialist President was the most radical. Furthermore, I assessed it based purely on the basis of the policies implemented or attempted by Presidents, not anything they said or wrote about their policies.
With all this in mind, I conclude that the most radical President ever is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The policies he implemented were at first Socialistic (The New Deal) and, by World War II, had about them hints of Fascism. The expansion of government under Roosevelt was unprecedented, and his proposed “Second Bill of Rights” implied that government was obligated to provide things such as jobs, health care etc. for the people. Meanwhile, Social Security and the general expansion of the Welfare State, were ideas that owed much to Otto von Bismarck. (It was these policies of Bismarck’s that helped make “European Socialism” a commonplace phrase.)
As for his Fascist tendencies, FDR implemented the internment of German, Italian and Japanese Americans, an idea we commonly would associate with Fascism. In addition, when World War II broke out, almost all healthy young men were drafted to serve in the military. The draft is an idea wholly alien to the free-market approach to economics, and it is, at its core, a request to sacrifice the individual for the sake of the “greater good”. Socialism, in a word.
A President whose policies were a mixture of Socialistic class-warfare and Fascistic actual warfare; is that radical enough for you?