Eisenhower’s version of “progressive conservatism” was not as progressive as he sometimes imagined.
Photo: Burt Hardy / Getty Images
This week, a long-awaited memorial to President Dwight de Eisenhower Will be allocated Near the US Capitol, after all Arguments On his design. Less controversial, I suppose, would be the tributes made in Ike’s memory. It has recently risen in the appreciation of historians, ranking fifth in the recent C-Span Survey of Presidential Historians 2017. This is the highest rate for any president since Roosevelt.
Ike’s reputation certainly owes a lot to his rather impressive pre-presidential career as Commander in Chief of the Allies in the Western European Theater of WWII and architect of the D-Day Invasion in Normandy. But he was enjoying the stream of sunshine on his chair, too. Hitchcock, author of “We’re in a Polarizing Moment” The Eisenhower Era: America and the World in the 1950s, He said to New York Times in a Transfer On the monument. “We will be in a polarizing moment for a long time. But there might be a place for an actual physical location where you can think of what life looks like in an unpolarized world.”
More specifically, the brutal course of the Republican Party that Ike belongs to under the incumbent president has created some nostalgia for Eisenhower’s moderate ideology, which is often seen as a lost alternative path to the Republican Party if the conservative movement does not prevail over all, my colleague said. Jonathan Chet recently I suggested:
For a while, the Republican Party seemed to follow the same path as center-right parties in other industrial democracies today. Dwight Eisenhower accepted the features and legitimacy of the New Deal while battling many details. The goal of the conservative movement was to oppose and reverse Eisenhower’s political vision for the Republican Party.
While there is no doubt that Ike’s steadfast partisanship and “progressive conservatism” is keeping him away from Trump’s trademark of the Republicans, the breaks between his policies and policies and those of the non-progressive conservatives who gradually took over the Republican Party after his presidency are easy to overstate. Yes, the early “Tories of the Movement” and their first hero, Barry Goldwater, despised the Eisenhower administration as “a new deal for the dime store.” But the later more successful conservatives (including Goldwater heir Ronald Reagan) provided many of the same facilities for the political realities Ike provided, including caution about taking over Social Security and Medicare.
More importantly, Eisenhower continued the aggressive, anti-communist internationalism that quickly became central to the conservative movement until Trump came to bring back one-sided America first the conservatives and isolationists rooted in opposing the same war on Hitler that Ike won.
Historians have sometimes considered Eisenhower to be the enemy of anti-communist witch hunter Joseph McCarthy. In fact, Ike was an ally of McCarthy, as long as the demagogic Wisconsin Senator was attacking the Democrats, as was Michael J. Birkener from Gettysburg College. Remember:
In his diary, Ike noted that he is “everywhere [I traveled in the fall of 1952] I urged the need to root out communism wherever it was found in the United States. ”Ike promised a new team in Washington that was up to the task of renewing the government and protecting our defense secrets.
There were two prominent anti-Communists in the campaign for the card to Eisenhower’s right: Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and California Senator (and Eisenhower’s colleague in the election) Richard Nixon. McCarthy won the hearts of conservative Republicans with his violent attacks on “Twenty Years of Betrayal”, and during the campaign year he continued to insist that only the Republican administration could find and destroy the enemy within our walls.
Eisenhower and his anti-Communist Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, were never known to develop the Cold War strategy associated with subsequent administrations. After the defeat of French colonialism in Indochina, the administration was resurrected They blew up the Geneva Conventions Which provided for the 1956 elections free and a united Vietnam, paving the way to the quagmire of the 1960s and 1970s. Ike was a staunch supporter of the US war effort in Vietnam until his death in 1969. He was moreover a pioneer in covert counter-revolutionary operations. Agreed to CIA-sponsored coups (the agency was led by Allen’s brother John Foster Dulles) against popular left-wing governments in Iran in 1953 And Guatemala in 1954, And ordered Initial planning For what would become the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. Throughout the Eisenhower administration, the official strategic doctrine of the US government toward communist aggression was “colossal revenge,” which speaks of its horrific self.
On the home front, Ike is often celebrated for his civil rights record, especially as the Republican Party has steadfastly diverged from its longstanding commitment to racial justice. He did, to be credited with, proposing and signing in 1957 on the The first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, Although it was very limited in scope and effect. More dramatically, the same year he is Send Federal Forces to Little Rock To enforce a court order to abolish segregation in public schools.
But like Adam Serwer explained In 2014, Ike’s civil rights reputation was overstated, although it compared favorably with that of Democrats who feared alienating their once-white supremacist southern wing:
Eisenhower opposed the discrimination but appeared far more sympathetic to white Southerners whose lives would be disrupted by the end of Jim Crow than for blacks living under the heel of a shoe. He was a progressive skeptic of federal authority who often reiterated the ideological belief that laws could not shape culture, despite following laws that would extend – albeit modestly compared to the efforts of the Johnson era – the federal power to protect the civil rights of Americans. Eisenhower will say, “You cannot change people’s hearts just by laws …”
Before brouwn [v. Board of Education] A decision was reached, and Eisenhower called [Chief Justice Earl] Warren for dinner at the White House. Warren later recalls that Eisenhower told him that Southern whites “are not bad humans. All they worry about is seeing their cute little girls not being required to sit at school alongside some bloated negroes.”
Eisenhower’s share in the black vote rose from a half-hearted 24% in 1952 (when he had much support for white racial discrimination) to 39 percent in 1956But while that sounds too high now, his more conservative Vice President Richard Nixon won 32 percent in 1960 against the man now considered a civil rights icon, John F. Kennedy.
Besides civil rights, the Eisenhower administration was already moderate and constructive, but hardly progressive in domestic politics. His major achievement was the initiation of the Interstate Highway System. But his favorite advisor was, by most accounts, Treasury Secretary George Humphrey, a former steel mogul who was a die-hard advocate of financial discipline. It was no coincidence that the experience of the Eisenhower administration Two recessions.
As for his leadership of the Republican Party, Ike’s well-known ideological moderation was limited. He was furious in the 1960’s when Nixon (his designated successor) was He agreed to a series of platform demands Made by true liberal New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He never announced his concerns about the 1964 Goldwater takeover of the Republican Party. Loyalty support The candidate. In fact, his appearance at the 1964 Republican Convention is most remembered for this reason talkWhich will not be out of place in the current president’s speech:
My friends, we are Republicans. If there is any finer word in the entire field of party politics, I haven’t heard it yet. So let us especially underestimate the divisive efforts of those outside our family, including columnists and thrill-seeking commentators, because, my friends, I assure you that these are people who care little about the best of our party.
Eisenhower’s undisputed legacy that Republicans truly cherish was his own electoral record: He broke the 20-year streak of Republican defeats in the presidential election with a landslide victory in the popular vote in 1952, winning 55 percent of the vote and holding Democratic strongholds in Florida , Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. He then improved it in 1956, winning 57 percent of the vote and adding Louisiana to his lineup. for him Average job approval rating From Gallup over eight years it was 65 percent, the highest since the pollster began measuring under Roosevelt.
But this popularity was personal, and it probably owes a lot to the hero’s war record. His party certainly did not benefit. Republicans lost both houses of Congress during the first midterm elections for Ike in 1954 (he did not recover the Senate until 1980 or the House of Representatives until 1994), and during his presidency, the Republican Party She lost more and more net legislative seats in the state From either side since Hoover.
Yes, Ike was a great soldier, a skilled diplomat, an outstanding presidential candidate, and a very good president if you wanted to balance budgets and crush the democratic aspirations of smaller and weaker nations. Compared to Trump, his student Nixon, or several other successors, his honesty was impressive, although he did. Embarrass the country By being caught lying about observation flights over the Soviet Union. And his fame Warning About the military-industrial complex in his farewell speech remains cautious and urgent at times, although he may have been motivated by the anger of JFK Cash A fictional “missile gap” with the Soviet Union during the just completed 1960 campaign.
But Dwight Eisenhower was traditionally conservative in some aspects of domestic politics, and one of the architects of conservative foreign and defense policy. Liberals shouldn’t burn too much incense at his newly revealed tomb