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A Liberal’s Political Holy Grail: 1956 GOP Platform


eisenhowerWriting to his brother in 1954, Republican President Dwight D Eisenhower wrote some very prophetic words:

“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. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are…a few…Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid,”

60 years later and the Grand Old Party has changed from a “number that is negligible” to a number that is far more substantial and I’m sure that President Eisenhower would still consider them “stupid.”

Two years later, the Republicans would write a document which became their 1956 election platform. That platform projected a lot of Eisenhower’s philosophy in a more social liberal nature of politics without abandoning their core conservative economic approach.

In 1956 I was ten years old and as I have often written on Dare to Dream, I grew up in a “follow the General anywhere” Republican family.

My Dad was a World War II vet and North Dakota farm boy who liked Truman and Eisenhower, so politics were a frequent topic of conversation in our household.

Political topics would range from the DFL, Democrat Farm Labor, to military expansion, so the ground work was built for my later life as an adult voter.

I must admit that I had never read or heard of the 1956 Republican Platform until recently.

In doing some research on Rhode Scholars, I came across the list of people who were members of this honored group of men and women.

Among them was one name who I have admired for a long time.

One who I have found to be  a kindred spirit politically, Rachel Maddow.

In checking out her biography, I came across a quote that interested me in further research:

“I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.”

That statement sent me off on a web wide search to find what I could consider to be the political “holy grail.”

So after a few key strokes and a couple of enters, there it was, The Eisenhower Republican Platform.

I read with fascination and wondered out loud, “where are these principles and ideals today?”

There are seven planks of the 1956 platform which should make a liberal’s heart race and passion soar:

1. Provide federal assistance to low-income communities;

2. Protect Social Security;

3. Provide asylum for refugees;

4. Extend minimum wage;

5. Improve unemployment benefit system so it covers more people;

6. Strengthen labor laws so workers can more easily join a union;

7. Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.

It’s obvious that this 1956 document is a road map for the problems that plague us in 2016 and if politicians would take it to heart, take it to the people, it would register with great clarity and popularity.

“The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. But in all that people can individually do as well for themselves, Government ought not to interfere.”

“In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human. In all those things which deal with people’s money, or their economy, or their form of government, be conservative.”

“The individual is of supreme importance. The spirit of our people is the strength of our nation. America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper. Government must have a heart as well as a head. Courage in principle, cooperation in practice make freedom positive.”

After several discussions, and emails, to a good friend, Steve Oravecz, former Political Reporter for the Warren Tribune, we were of the same mind, the principles and values proposed in 1956 have been lost to the “Alt-right’s” obstruction and contempt for all things “progressive.”

So General, 60 years later and tho the numbers  in the GOP oppose progress are many, you are still correct in your assessment, “stupid.”

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