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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and Netflix films. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

Can You Imagine a Minimalist President?

Recently, a reader asked whether we could imagine electing a minimalist president. Yes, but we don’t have to imagine: his name was Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States of America.

During the 67 months of his presidency, the national debt, the federal government, the federal budget, unemployment, and consumer prices shrank—and the GDP expanded significantly. All of this led Amity Shlaes, in her biography, Coolidge, to blazon “Silent Cal” as a “rare kind of hero: a minimalist president, an economic general of budgeting.”

But perhaps the best way to understand Coolidge’s minimalist ways is through his own words:

On contribution: “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

On spending: “There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means.”

On wealth: “Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped.”

On listening: “It takes a great man to be a good listener.”

On focus: “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.”

Politics aside, Coolidge embodied minimalist principles. Who among our current scrum of politicians exemplifies these values? If anyone, then, yes, perhaps we can find another minimalist president.