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Who Owns Theodore Roosevelt?

Theodore Roosevelt died a century ago in January, but his political legacy remains up for grabs — today, perhaps, more than ever. Everybody wants him on their team. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, has repeatedly cited Roosevelt as her favorite president and her “dream” running mate because, like her, he pushed a progressive agenda that included taking on industrial trusts. “Man, I’d like to have that guy at my side,” she told Ari Melber of MSNBC in March.

Roosevelt was, of course, a Republican, at least until 1912, when he ran as a third-party candidate. Still, many in that party continue to claim him as one of their own — even as a forebear of President Trump. “I think the United States once again has a president whose vision, energy, and can-do spirit is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt,” Vice President Mike Pence said in 2017.

At a gathering earlier this month dedicated to building a nationalist conservative movement — called, appropriately, the National Conservatism Conference — Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri approvingly cited Roosevelt in a speech about the rising threat of “cosmopolitanism.” Mr. Hawley, one of the many young Republicans jockeying to take over the party once Mr. Trump leaves office, knows what he’s talking about: He wrote a well-received book about Roosevelt’s political philosophy.

Like a handful of other figures in American history — Washington, Lincoln, King — Roosevelt inspires admiration across the political spectrum, in part because his own politics are so hard to place. Through his career and his voluminous writings, he can appear as a reformer, a nativist, an imperialist, a trustbuster, a conservative and a progressive — often at the same time.

And it makes sense that Roosevelt is in such demand. He came to prominence in the late 19th century, a time marked by many of the same challenges we face today. Immigration was reshaping the population. Technology and globalization were tearing down old industries and building new ones. Corporate power was at an apogee. The Republican Party was at war with itself.

Read entire article at NY Times