I currently am in the process of writing the history of America in the year, 1953 so my mind each day returns to olden days when life was somewhat different in this blessed land. The year begins with the election of the first Republican president in twenty years –Dwight Eisenhower. Ike, as he was affectionally known, had been a great general during World War II, and decided that he was a Republican. Believe it or not in those days the Republican Party had a conservative, a moderate, and a liberal wing. Conservative Henry Luce, owner of Time, Life and Fortune magazines wrote an editorial boasting that the Republican party was the champion of workers and the middle class. He believed that capitalism was based on the principle of redistribution of wealth in order to ensure the middle class and workers had good jobs and incomes so they could purchase goods and keep the economy vibrant. For modern Republicans, a somewhat novel concept of “conservatism.” The essence of moderate, liberal, and many conservative Republicans was the importance of free enterprise as personified with rising income for both the wealthy and middle class.
President Eisenhower also had the weird conservative notion that national debts were best handled by imposing high taxes on the wealthy. He continued the Franklin Roosevelt World War II top tax level of 90%. When challenged by head of U.S. Steel corporation who insisted on lower taxes for the wealthy, he informed the rich man that as an American he was responsible for paying a higher tax. Most Republicans in Congress, supported the president. Would you believe that CONSERVATIVES regarded paying off the national debt as important and the responsibility of the wealthy?? Henry Luce urged in a Life editorial the goal of conservatives in America was to ensure that the top 5% of wealthy controlled only 17% of our national income, not the 42% currently supported by Republicans! Such was the state of CONSERVATIVES.
Oh, Eisenhower ended segregation in Washington D.C., he ended it in Navy shipyards, he continued the desegregation of the armed forces, and his Attorney General strongly backed the Brown vs Board of Education law suit to end segregation in our nation’s schools. That was CONSERVATIVE thinking in 1953. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Republican conservatives returned to the old true conservatism of their predecessors?