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Your Father’s Republican Party

Kind of lengthy, but here’s some excerpts from the Republican party’s 1956 presidential platform under Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon: ike-pin

Some basic tenets of your Father’s Republican party:

Our Government was created by the people for all the people, and it must serve no less a purpose.

The Republican Party was formed 100 years ago to preserve the Nation’s devotion to these ideals.

On its Centennial, the Republican Party again calls to the minds of all Americans the great truth first spoken by Abraham Lincoln: “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.”

Our great President Dwight D. Eisenhower has counseled us further: “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.”


We are proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs—expansion of social security—broadened coverage in unemployment insurance —improved housing—and better health protection for all our people. We are determined that our government remain warmly responsive to the urgent social and economic problems of our people.

To these beliefs we commit ourselves as we present this record and declare our goals for the future.

In the “Preamble” to the Republican Party platform in 2012:

The principles written in the Constitution are secured by the character of the American people. President George Washington said in his first inaugural address: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” Values matter. Character counts.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand these great truths. They share a positive vision for America — a vision of America renewed and strong. They know America’s best days lay ahead. It will take honest results-oriented, conservative leadership to enact good policies for our people. They will provide it.


How far they’ve fallen. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the epitome of George Washington, according to Republicans.

Taxation and fiscal policy in 1956:

Gradual reduction of the national debt.

Continual study of additional ways to correct inequities in the effect of various taxes.

(To correct the inequities… the top marginal rate in 1957 was 91%.)

Business and Economic Policy 1956:

We believe in good business for all business—small, medium and large. We believe that competition in a free economy opens unrivaled opportunity and brings the greatest good to the greatest number.

Small Business

Small Business can look forward to expanded participation in federal procurement—valuable financing and technical aids—a continuously vigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws—important cuts in the burdens of paper work, and certain tax reductions as budgetary requirements permit.[...]

We also propose:

Additional technical research in problems of development and distribution for the benefit of small business;

Legislation to enable closer Federal scrutiny of mergers which have a significant or potential monopolistic connotations;

Procedural changes in the antitrust laws to facilitate their enforcement;

Simplification of wage reporting by employers for purposes of social security records and income tax withholding;

Continuance of the vigorous SEC policies which are providing maximum protection to the investor and maximum opportunity for the financing of small business without costly red tape.


We applaud the effective, unhindered, collective bargaining which brought an early end to the 1956 steel strike, in contrast to the six months’ upheaval, Presidential seizure of the steel industry and ultimate Supreme Court intervention under the last Democrat Administration.

The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:

Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers;

Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers;

Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system;

Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits;

Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex;

Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to federal wage standards on Federal and Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts;

Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;

Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;

Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;

Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.

Health, Education, and Welfare:

The Republican Party believes that the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the people is as important as their economic health. It will continue to support this conviction with vigorous action.


Republican action created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as the first new Federal department in 40 years, to raise the continuing consideration of these problems for the first time to the highest council of Government, the President’s Cabinet.


Republican leadership has enlarged Federal assistance for construction of hospitals, emphasizing low-cost care of chronic diseases and the special problems of older persons, and increased Federal aid for medical care of the needy.

We have asked the largest increase in research funds ever sought in one year to intensify attacks on cancer, mental illness, heart disease and other dread diseases.

We have encouraged a notable expansion and improvement of voluntary health insurance, and urge that reinsurance and pooling arrangements be authorized to speed this progress.

We have strengthened the Food and Drug Administration, and we have increased the vocational rehabilitation program to enable a larger number of the disabled to return to satisfying activity.[...]

We shall continue to seek extension and perfection of a sound social security system.

Postal Service:

We pledge to continue and to complete this vitally needed program of modernization of buildings, equipment, methods and service, so that the American people will receive the kind of mail delivery they deserve—the speediest and best that American ingenuity, technology and modern business management can provide.

Civil Rights:

In the area of exclusive Federal jurisdiction, more progress has been made in this field under the present Republican Administration than in any similar period in the last 80 years.


The regulatory agencies under this Administration have moved vigorously to end discrimination in interstate commerce. Segregation in the active Armed Forces of the United States has been ended. For the first time in our history there is no segregation in veterans’ hospitals and among civilians on naval bases. This is an impressive record. We pledge ourselves to continued progress in this field.

The Republican Party has unequivocally recognized that the supreme law of the land is embodied in the Constitution, which guarantees to all people the blessings of liberty, due process and equal protection of the laws. It confers upon all native-born and naturalized citizens not only citizenship in the State where the individual resides but citizenship of the United States as well. This is an unqualified right, regardless of race, creed or color.

The Republican Party accepts the decision of the U.S.. Supreme Court that racial discrimination in publicly supported schools must be progressively eliminated. We concur in the conclusion of the Supreme Court that its decision directing school desegregation should be accomplished with “all deliberate speed” locally through Federal District Courts.


The Republican Party supports an immigration policy which is in keeping with the traditions of America in providing a haven for oppressed peoples, and which is based on equality of treatment, freedom from implications of discrimination between racial, nationality and religious groups, and flexible enough to conform to changing needs and conditions.

Conservation, Natural Resources, Recreation, National Parks and the Environment:

Policies of sound conservation and wise development—originally advanced half a century ago under that preeminent Republican conservation team of President Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot and amplified by succeeding Republican Administrations—have been pursued by the Eisenhower Administration. While meeting the essential development needs of the people, this Administration has conserved and safeguarded our natural resources for the greatest good of all, now and in the future.


We favor full recognition of recreation as an important public use of our national forests and public domain lands.

We favor a comprehensive study of the effect upon wildlife of the drainage of our wetlands.

We favor recognition, by the States, of wild-life and recreation management and conservation as a beneficial use of water.

We subscribe to the general objectives of groups seeking to guard the beauty of our land and to promote clean, attractive surroundings throughout America.

We recognize the need for maintaining isolated wilderness areas to provide opportunity for future generations to experience some of the wilderness living through which the traditional American spirit of hardihood was developed.

Do you recognize any of that? Contrast this with today’s Republican party which seeks to abolish labor unions, a minimum wage; privatize the post office, social security, and Medicare. To Republicans like Rand Paul, Eisenhower’s pledge to use the federal government to enforce Civil Rights laws, or protect Americans with disabilities is an infringement on business to openly discriminate.

Today’s Republican party seeks to repeal access to an affordable, regulated healthcare insurance market; outlaw sound environmental policy; To take away food from the poor and give it to billionaires; encourage monopolies, concentrated wealth, and “Drill, baby, Drill!

They seek to shut down the FDA, EPA, and departments of Energy and Education.

To criminalize abortion because God says.

They’ve instituted barriers to the vote, making them the true enemies of freedom and democracy.

To do all of this they are willing to plunge the country into chaos and debt, uncertainty, and under the banner of “freedom and liberty.”

Today’s Republican party believes that it isn’t conservative, or radical enough. The lunatics are running the asylum. This Republican party buried its fathers, spit on their graves, cashed in the insurance policy and used the proceeds to make war with its own country.

We’re all targets for the gun nuts, now. We’re all to be punished for our lack of faith in today’s abusive and out of control Republican party. To be taught a Biblical lesson in jack-booted authoritarianism– for our own good.

Your father’s Republican party would have taken these spoiled, belligerent, know-nothing punks and billionaires out back and taught them an old fashioned lesson in patriotism.

  • Treading_Water

    So, the entire political spectrum has moved dramatically to the right, making today’s Democrats yesterday’s Republicans, and today’s Republicans bat-shit crazy.

    • mrbrink

      It’s easy to forget that there’s still some really great Democrats working inside and out of government– genuinely good people who are getting after it every day. The GOP is a cult. We’ve just taken in some of their asylum seekers.

  • fry1laurie

    Unfortunately, in just eight years they chose Barry Goldwater, and the backlash was on.

    • Schneibster

      Yep, and started the predecessors of the think tanks: http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2004/Republican-Propaganda1sep04.htm

    • Lady Bug

      The irony is while Goldwater’s 1964 campaign was a watershed moment for the conservative movement- culminating in Reagan’s election in 1980, by the 80s/90s “Mr. Conservative” was considered to be too liberal by Republican conservatives. Towards the end of his life he criticized the ban on gays serving in the military and supported legalizing medical marijuana.

      According to his Wiki page, when Jerry Falwell said about (then) Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O’Connor, “every good Christian should be concerned” Goldwater retorted “every good Christian ought to kick Falwell in the ass”

      It’s one thing to realize that republicans such as Nelson Rockefeller, Margaret Chase, Ken Keating, Jacob Javits, Eisenhower, Nixon, GHWB, etc would be out of place in today’s Republican party.

      It’s an entirely different scenario when you realize that stalwarts of the conservative movement such as Goldwater and Reagan would of been shunned by (much of) today’s Republican party.

    • dbtheonly

      But Barry Goldwater was something of a Libertarian at heart. I don’t think the label existed in ’64 but look at his stand on the issues.

  • muselet

    I miss sane Republicans.


    • mrbrink

      I think those Republicans have all worked in the Obama administration at one point or another. Because he’s a radical partisan, obviously.

  • Really excellent piece, Brink. Thank you.

    • muselet



  • Schneibster

    Well, not to put an entire wet blanket on your idea, in general I agree they’d been really mellowed out by WWII, but remember my father’s Republican Party was Joe McCarthy. And when we discussed the Republicans he was the first one he brought up, every time. Then we moved to Nixon (that was after I was ten or eleven) and by that time nobody wanted to argue with him about Republicans any more.

    So he’d argue that they’ve always been like this, at least in his lifetime, they just figured out how to get away with more since when he was young.

    OTOH, you’re right, after WWII they got more reasonable for a time. Eisenhower was probably one of the most liberal Republican Presidents of the 20th century. Unfortunately it didn’t last.

    • ranger11

      I’ve always felt that Ike was so liberal because FDR put such a leftish imprint on the country and he had to go along with the prevailing political culture. In many ways I think Bill Clinton is the parallel to Eisenhower after Reagan’s dominating influence. I’m pretty sure though that this doesn’t make Obama like Nixon eight years later. Although Nixon did put a pretty strong electoral coalition together; even though it was evil.

      • Schneibster

        Tomorrow when I’m not watching many football games I will see if I can respond to this; you’ve caught my interest but exceeded my capacity for today.

        • ranger11

          Yeah, being a Giants fan I’m trying to think about anything except football at this point.

          • Schneibster

            Don’t suffer too hard, you could be a Packer backer.

            Don’t tell me anything I’m still watching morning games on TiVO; at the moment, STL @ DAL, just starting 11:00 to play in the 1st.

      • jziglar

        I agree because that was the era of liberal domination Eisenhower had to be more liberal in some ways. But we forget that the republicans like the democrats did not have one wing in the party. They had the conservative wing, the moderate wing, and the liberal wing. Eisenhower was a moderate republican. The republican party was a lot different back in the day.

        People get caught up in the party labels when they should focus more on ideology. The most constant thing in history are radical conservatives fighting change. We saw that in the democratic party with the conservative Dixiecrats.

        • ranger11

          There was a book “Rule and Ruin” about the moderate Republicans of the 60’s. Long story short is that they got steamrolled pretty easily. The most surprising thing to me was that Nixon was considered a moderate at that point. Southern strategy took care of that.

    • dbtheonly


      Even in the 50s the Republicans had two wings. You had the McCartyhy-ites, Nixon, Knowland, & Knight. You had the center Ike, Lodge, & Rockefeller. You had the left wing Javitz, Brooke, though individually they were more in the 60s.

      It’s only been in the last ~30 years that there has been a monolithic Republican Party & even so I’ll argue that there are Right & Righter wings even today.

      • Schneibster

        I think so, but I think the right extremists of several different stripes, religious, ideological Libertarian, racist, and sexist, have all managed to create a united populist wing that isn’t a majority but a union of pluralities, and gives them power they would not otherwise have, by combining with the rich.

        The only thing that can tip the balance in favor of reality is the news media; however, they refuse to report it when one party lies despite being caught ignoring it over and over. Destroyatives call this “creating reality.” They refer to pointing it out as “being a member of the reality-based community.” Most people think telling lies and getting caught “lying.” It’s amusing to find a party trying to get out of admitting they lie by making up a euphemism for it.

        Personally I am a member of the “reality-based community.” Proudly.

        • Badgerite

          You left out the former ‘Dixiecrats’ of the South who fled the Democratic party due to its support of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s.

          • Schneibster

            That’s the “Southern Strategy.”

        • dbtheonly


          You’ve got your reality & every day Fox “News” broadcasts something that looks like reality but isn’t in our experience. How often do you have to hear the same Fox blather before it behind to sink in & effect your perceptions? People oppose “Obamacare”. Can even one in five define it accurately? Or have people just been caught in a slogan?

          You seek education from the “news media”. Wasn’t it just two weeks ago when we were discussing celebrity endorsements of wacko health fads? If the “media” can’t/ won’t debunk dangerous health claims…

          • Schneibster

            I’m not talking about what is, I’m talking about what woulda/shoulda/oughta/coulda. 😀

          • dbtheonly


            And I’m asking how do we get there from here?

          • Schneibster

            If I knew that I wouldn’t be wasting my time commenting on the news on the Internet.

            You can’t even fight them off with the truth; they don’t “believe in” it. Like Darwin, or global warming. They appear to think they get to vote on reality.

            Seriously, how do you deal with someone who thinks there’s an invisible super magic daddy living in the sky, when we’ve been to the Moon? They think they get to vote on it or something. They’re obviously unclear on the concept of “out there.” And no clearer on the concept of “reality.”

            Honest to jebus, they called us “the reality based community.” Really. No joke. A dude actually said that shit like it means something.

    • Badgerite

      Eisenhower played his part in taking McCarthy down. He tolerated him because the Republican Party wanted him to. Just as they wanted him to accept Nixon as his VP even though Eisenhower did not like or trust him and had severe reservations about him as a potential President. McCarthy made the mistake of trying to bully the military and when they bridled McCarthy then did what he always did which was attack them as having communist sympathies. Behind the scenes this enraged Eisenhower and the Army -McCarthy hearings ended up being McCarthy’s Waterloo. Eisenhower deserted him. The Republican Party deserted him and the public deserted him. He wasn’t perfect. He did always say that his biggest mistake was appointing Earl Warren to the Supreme Court. But he was unwavering in enforcing the Court’s decision in Brown.
      But he was a damn cite more honorable and decent open minded than the GOP of today.

    • jziglar

      We shouldn’t get caught up in political parties because ideology is the most important thing. You had liberal and moderate republicans support many progressives programs. Radical conservatives whether they be democrats or republicans have always been afraid and fought against change.

      • Schneibster

        But Reagan said no Republican should ever criticize another.

        If one party does that and the other doesn’t, then there can be no progress.

        • jziglar

          I’m not saying that we should not criticize. I’m just saying that people should realize that that both parties had different factions (liberal, moderate, conservative) which created coalitions back in the day. The republican party today is full of radical conservatives because they started purging the Rockefeller republicans out of the party, and many of them left the party. My point is that parties change but ideology is the driving point.

          • Schneibster

            The difficulty is the Republicans drove out the Libertarians and instead of admitting it the Libertarians stopped being libertarian and became Republican; and not just Republican but radical right wing Republican.

          • jziglar

            That is so true ! The Birchers and other Libertarian groups were not even accepted by the likes of William F Buckley. Now they are the party.

          • Schneibster

            The conspiracy theory meme.

          • Badgerite

            Thanks for this. One of my personal pet peeves.

          • Schneibster

            The original BBN analysis was as competent and definitive as was possible at the time, but they had to make assumptions about the waveforms because they did not have either the computing power or the algorithms we do today for doing waveform matching and sound simulation. The latest analyses have identified echoes at the 3-wheeler motorcycle that stopped and parked to shut off access to the route through Dealy Plaza, and had its radio’s transmit key inadvertently depressed during the entire shooting sequence, and the radio of another motorcycle that remained in the motorcade, whose rider involuntarily depressed the transmit key after the first shot, due to his shock in realizing that an assassin was shooting at the President right in front of him. It’s been a while since I looked all of this up; I thought most people had followed up after the movie.

            Not to put too fine a point on it, the “shot from the grassy knoll” turned out to be an artifact of the analysis which assumed one open mike when for all but the first and last shots it was two. There was no one on the grassy knoll. There were two open mikes for the middle four shots. Simple. Easy. Obvious. Confirmed by computer analysis.

            Nobody ever wants to hear the pedestrian truth, though; it’s always gotta be some kinda weird conspiracy. The only conspiracy was Hoover’s to try to generate a nontroversy about it. No different from Benghazi, AFAICT. Worst of all Hoover must have known we’d find out. We’re lucky he never got his hands on the final tape evidence.

          • Schneibster

            I mean seriously, almost all of digital waveform analysis was invented since 1981 and the BBN analysis was delivered in 1978 and mostly done in 1977. And in those days a few years’ difference was a big deal in terms of digital analysis; we were just inventing it.

            Today we can record in digital at 192kHz sample frequency, that is 192 thousand samples per second, with 24-bit, that is around 16 million levels, of resolution. By fairly easy Fourier transforms such signals can be teased apart into their components. Identifying shots, and their echoes among the buildings of Dealy Plaza, is child’s play. You can do it on a desktop computer these days. In 1978 that much computer power cost millions.

            But it’s not just the hardware. We know new algorithms too; Fast Fourier Transforms, for example. Math advances too. Now we can do far more with the hardware than we ever thought we could in 1980. Remember, in 1980, they invented the IBM PC. And they weren’t sure quarks existed. And they’d never heard of dark energy.