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What 2012 Republicans Can Learn From Their 1956 Counterparts

Thomas Whitley

The charge of hypocrisy is one that seems to be made all too often in our current political climate, though the charge is often accurate (as in this example of Paul Ryan heartily defending Keynesian stimulus under President Bush when he has decried it under President Obama). Other times, it's clear that words have been twisted. In the case at hand, if hypocrisy is not the most accurate charge, then we can at least say that the Republican brand of 1956 had vastly different priorities than do Republicans today. With thanks to @JohnFugelsang for the link.

Republican Party Platforms: Republican Party Platform of 1956 | The American Presidency Project: 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."

It seems that where Republicans in 1956 wished to strike a legitimate balance between what the government can and should do with what should be left to the individual, many Republicans today have lost the penchant for balance. When more of our country's citizens are living in poverty than any time since the 1960's, the presumptive Republican nominee for President has chosen a running mate in Paul Ryan who has authored a budget that would realize 62% of its cuts by slashing programs for the poor. So, when people cannot help themselves and are relying on the government to help them keep a roof over their head, to keep their children fed, and to stay alive, the Republicans are proposing to cut our assistance to them. All of this while telling women that they cannot make the right decisions when it comes to their personal reproductive health and that the government needs to make those decisions for them.

The current GOP seems to have forgotten Abraham's and Eisenhower's advice. They are preaching a message of small government, but this message seems to only apply when others want to make sure that more people have health insurance and when businesses and big banks are regulated so that they can't take us down the road we all went down against our will in 2008. That message of small government seems, though, to disappear when women want to make their own choices about contraception and reproduction or when two people of the same sex fall in love and want to be married.

The Republican Party of 1956 was far from perfect, but they certainly have a few things to teach Republicans of 2012.