When Dwight Eisenhower was a liberal commie

Five years ago, soon after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, I published a set of quotes from former President Dwight Eisenhower; my aim was to point-out how wildly the contemporary GOP has abandoned its historic conservatism and become, in truth, no more than a pack of nihilist vandals. In view of the GOP’s apparent inability to dissociate itself from, even, an incandescent nutjob like Marjorie Taylor Greene, a refresher seems in order.

Not everybody can be Eisenhower, of course, but he was the best in the tradition of Burke — one eye on the future, as evidenced by his support of computing,the Interstate Highway System, and space, while preserving the best of proved traditions: respect for law and the legal process, science, engineering, civilian control of emerging technologies. It would be a very good thing for the GOP to survey its history and think about what’s gone wrong.

Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society, loathed Dwight Eisenhower with a passion. He was, in Welch’s view, a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy.” Even William F. Buckley, who hated Eisenhower’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative mindset with an equal intensity, thought Welch went too far and led the campaign to push the John Birch Society out of Republican politics.

So: Would the Republicans today nominate as its candidate for the presidency the man who pushed development of the Interstate Highway System, funded America’s lead in computer science, and insisted that NASA be under civilian control? Not if these quotes tell us anything about Eisenhower’s thinking.

  • This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

  • Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.

  • Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

  • In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

  • You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.

  • When you put on a uniform, there are certain inhibitions that you accept.

  • Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

  • Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.

  • We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.

  • Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

  • When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.

  • In most communities it is illegal to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?

  • The world moves, and ideas that were once good are not always good.

  • How far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?

The Republicans have ceased to be the conservative political party in any meaningful sense of the word; they are the radical party, intent upon dismantling all the things that actually made America exceptional, and replacing it with a plutocracy guarded by pious morons.

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