If nothing else, Theodore Roosevelt was complex and paradoxical (not contradictory). I’ve found that things that are most right and good are usually paradoxical. Here’s an example of Roosevelt’s paradox, he says:
If I were a factory employee, a workman on the railroads or a wage-earner of any sort, I would undoubtedly join the union of my trade.
Then he follows with this:
Nevertheless, irrespective of whether a man should or should not, and does or does not, join the union of his trade, all the rights, privileges and immunities of that man as an American and as a citizen should be safeguarded and upheld by the law. We dare not make an outlaw of any individual or any group, whatever his or its opinions or professions. The non-unionist, like the unionist, must be protected in all his legal rights by the full weight and power of the law.
I believe the man understood a fundamental ingredient to manhood: justice. If a thing is just, then it must be accessible to everyone. He didn’t waiver, even when he was demagogued for his actions:
Because of things I have done on behalf of justice to the workingman, I have often been called a Socialist. Usually I have not taken the trouble even to notice the epithet. I am not afraid of names, and I am not one of those who fear to do what is right because some one else will confound me with partisans with whose principles I am not in accord. Moreover, I know that many American Socialists are high-minded and honorable citizens, who in reality are merely radical social reformers. They are oppressed by the brutalities and industrial injustices which we see everywhere about us. When I recall how often I have seen Socialists and ardent non-Socialists working side by side for some specific measure of social or industrial reform, and how I have found opposed to them on the side of privilege many shrill reactionaries who insist on calling all reformers Socialists, I refuse to be panic-stricken by having this title mistakenly applied to me.
None the less, without impugning their motives, I do disagree most emphatically with both the fundamental philosophy and the proposed remedies of the Marxian Socialists. These Socialists are unalterably opposed to our whole industrial system. They believe that the payment of wages means everywhere and inevitably an exploitation of the laborer by the employer, and that this leads inevitably to a class war between those two groups, or, as they would say, between the capitalists and the proletariat. They assert that this class war is already upon us and can only be ended when capitalism is entirely destroyed and all the machines, mills, mines, railroads and other private property used in production are confiscated, expropriated or taken over by the workers. They do not as a rule claim—although some of the sinister extremists among them do—that there is and must be a continual struggle between two great classes, whose interests are opposed and cannot be reconciled. In this war they insist that the whole government—National, State and local—is on the side of the employers and is used by them against the workmen, and that our law and even our common morality are class weapons, like a policeman’s club or a Gatling gun.
I have never believed, and do not to-day believe, that such a class war is upon us, or need ever be upon us; nor do I believe that the interests of wage-earners and employers cannot be harmonized, compromised and adjusted.