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Richard M. Nixon - Lion of Liberalism

okanogen's picture

This article is fascinating reading as regards the rightward Overton Window "success" of the last 45 years. People talk about turning the clock back to the Clinton years, but really we should turn the clock back further, to the early Nixon years. We didn't know how good we had it.

To hear Republicans on the campaign trail, the United States could not have elected a more left-wing president than Barack Obama, one more hostile to business or more eager to expand government power. Left-wing Democrats, I’m sure, would disagree. If they had their druthers, they would probably make a more liberal, more pro-big government choice. Somebody, perhaps, like Richard Nixon.

That’s right. The Nixon administration not only supported the Clean Air Act and affirmative action, it also gave us the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the agencies the business community most detests, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to police working conditions. Herbert Stein, chief economic adviser during the administrations of Nixon and Gerald Ford, once remarked: “Probably more new regulation was imposed on the economy during the Nixon administration than in any other presidency since the New Deal.”

Nixon bolstered Social Security benefits. He introduced a minimum tax on the wealthy and championed a guaranteed minimum income for the poor. He even proposed health reform that would require employers to buy health insurance for all their employees and subsidize those who couldn’t afford it. That failed because of Democratic opposition. Today, Republicans would probably shoot it down.

Plus, he ended the gold standard. Unfortunately, it's not possible to swap Obama for this guy.

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Submitted by ubetchaiam on

As a vietnam vet who knows how Nixon and Kissingers lies caused over 20,00 more deaths and personal devastations by prolonging the war, I strongly advise against turning it back to the early Nixon years. The 'proposed health reform you write of was the introduction of HMO's which he favored because of the profit basis behind them. And yes, regulations such as price controls are the basis of the 'new regulations' enacted by the Nixon years.
Nixon WAS a crook through and through and the ongoing efforts to make him seem like some sort of good guy are despicable.
If you want to be nostalgic and exchange Obama for some one else , turn it back to the Kennedy/Johnson years. BUt then again, Kennedy raised the ante in Nam because of the French and Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin.
As Dylan sang, 'Don't follow leaders and watch the parking meters'

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

(Although some good things, for example the EPA, did come from his adminitstration.)

It's pointing out that a lot of RMN's policies were to the left of Obama. And speaking of that, what O has done for American warfare is to continue to process by which we can wage war without calling it "war" because only furriners die. I wasn't opposed to the Viet Nam war only because of American deaths.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

ALN is right, I was being ironic in my formulation. While not quite old enough for Vietnam, I am old enough to remember Nixon. Clearly he was an authoritarian thug and criminal, responsible for the disgusting "Southern Strategy" and the pushback against civil rights reforms such as school busing to integrate schools, needlessly prolonged the Vietnam war for crass political reasons, started the process of supreme court nominees based on political ideology, which likely ended our one chance to eliminate capital punishment as "cruel and unusual", etc., etc.. But give the devil his due, in addtion to the liberal economic policies he pursued and were mentioned in the article, he also supported the Equal Rights Amendments' passage through the house and senate and endorsed its ratification by the states.

Here is the quote regarding the rightward "shift" in public opinion. Which shows primarily that all of the shift is related to a right-ward shift in the Republican party since Reagan and how that has moved the Overton Window right for the country as a whole.

Interestingly, Americans say their political ideology has changed little since the late 1970s. The share of voters who defined themselves as liberal was 20 percent in 2010, up slightly from 19 percent in 1980, according to polls by The New York Times and CBS News. The conservative share over the same time rose to 35 percent, from 30 percent.

But these polls ignore how much the meanings of the terms have changed. The rightward drift in economic thinking becomes apparent in surveys asking about specific issues. In surveys 25 years ago, 71 percent of Americans believed it was the government’s job to take care of those who couldn’t care for themselves, according the Pew Research Center. This year the share is down to 59 percent. And most of the shift reflects a decline among Republicans.

Republicans’ support for labor unions has fallen sharply since the late 1980s, according to Pew’s research, as has their support for protecting the environment. Their drift fits the position of Congressional Republicans, whose views on the economy have been shifting right for the last quarter-century while Democrats’ views have remained roughly still. And as Republicans have moved to the right, economic policy has followed.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

I've often claimed RMN was to the left of O. But you've referred to an artivcle wihtout linking it. An oversight, I assume. Where?

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

but the subject is not. Obama's well to the right of Nixon on anything I can thnk of, Galliing.