[When making a choice for President], a voter who wants a liberal po1icy should vote Republican; conversely, if he yearns for a conservative policy, he should cast his ballot for a Democrat.
- Thomas Gale Moore, May 1981
|This is an excerpt from John F. McManus' introduction to James J. Drummey's book, The Establishment's Man. The book is available for purchase from the American Opinion Book Service.|
One of the greatest paradoxes of our time is the way in which supposedly conservative Republican Presidents have promoted big government and internationalism in the United States. Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush all talked like conservatives, but the record shows that their policies advanced the liberal agenda at a faster and more ominous clip than any Democratic occupants of the White House could have done.
Americans have repeatedly become disenchanted with Republican Presidents who abandoned their campaign promises and moved to the left. But these frustrated voters have usually consoled themselves by saying, Well, at least the country is better off than if Adlai Stevenson were President." Or Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis. But is the country better off?
Supporters of Governor Dukakis in the 1988 campaign are now chiding George Bush for adopting many of the Democratic nominees liberal views. And there is no doubt that Mr. Bush has been able to get away with policies that would have gotten Dukakis in serious trouble, such as inviting homosexual activists to the White House, appeasing Red Chinese tyrant Deng Xiaoping, or fawning over South African terrorist Nelson Mandela.
In the early days of the Reagan Administration, researcher Thomas Gale Moore of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University published the results of a study demonstrating that a Republican in the White House would do more for the liberal cause than a Democrat. He documented his thesis with some startling statistics drawn from an analysis of four Republican and four Democratic administrations.
Factors such as "party loyalty" and the enormous power of a sitting President to reward or punish congressional members of his party offer partial explanations for the phenomenon. But why Republican Presidents have been so much more successful in achieving liberal objectives than Democrats is not the issue here. We are more concerned with Moores overall conclusion.
He is not the first to discover such a pattern. Back in 1957, at the midpoint of the Eisenhower Administration, six-time Socialist Party candidate for President Norman Thomas enthused that "the United States is making greater strides toward socialism under Eisenhower than even under Roosevelt." Thirteen years later, during the Nixon Administration, liberal Republican Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania gleefully asserted: "We [liberals] get the action and conservatives get the rhetoric."
One example from the Reagan Administration will serve to illustrate that liberals do indeed get the action while conservatives are soothed with rhetoric. During his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1981, President Reagan said of the economic crisis then facing the nation: "Government is not the solution to our problem: government is the problem."
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