- Herbert Hoover is still remembered as a very conservative small-government guy, despite the fact that he was a progressive who laid much of the groundwork for the New Deal. He ran for president, much like Donald Trump, as a self-made millionaire and great manager. He was “the Great Engineer” who could bring the best practices of business to government.
- FDR was certainly a liberal statist, but his positions on welfare and public-sector unions alone put him to the right of today’s Democratic party.
- Richard Nixon was, simply, a liberal by today’s standards:
a. He was a statist. You could say he was for Obamacare before Obama and he pushed wage and price controls.
b. While he exploited racial issues to get elected, he was programmatically a racial liberal.
c. He launched the first significant affirmative-action programs and pushed the first big school-integration efforts in the South. He created the Office of Minority Business Enterprise.
d. He loved the regulatory state. He created OSHA, NOAA, and of course the EPA.
e. Seventy-five percent of his Supreme Court appointees voted for Roe v. Wade.
f. He hated the “Buckleyites.”
There’s a natural human tendency to think that because you can’t stand the other guy — or gal — he or she must therefore be your ideological opposite. The Brown Shirts and Red Shirts . . . were Coke and Pepsi fighting for the same slice of the radical market by changing their recipes ever so slightly.
Bill Clinton, as president, wasn’t that left-wing and Richard Nixon wasn’t that right-wing. But their enemies started from the assumption that any political opponent we hate this much must have a wholly different ideology from us. When your enemies hate someone on your “side,” that causes you to embrace your guy even more.
So let this serve as a cautionary note about accepting politicians by their self-declared labels. Instead you must look at their actual history, their “body of work”, as it were. Viewing the present candidates, you find not a dime’s worth of difference on the Democrat side, but tectonic differences on the GOP side.
Choose carefully, my friends!!