A Provocation

Since I am vacationing at an undisclosed location, here's a provocation to keep you going:

Scholars and Rogues, If he were a candidate in the 2008 presidential election, Richard M. Nixon would be more progressive than either the Republican or Democratic nominees.


For extra credit, consider the implications of this interview with Sen. Feingold.

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3 Responses to A Provocation

  1. PHB says:

    I think the comparison is irrelevant. Nixon adopted the policies he did in the circumstances of the 1970s. Clearly Nixon would not be a McCathyite cold warrior obsessed with the threat of Soviet Communism today as he was then. Much of his ‘progressive’ platform can probably be explained by the fact that he had to make domestic compromises to promote his imperialist foreign policy. Nixon never found a blood stained dictator he didn’t like and he played a major role in bringing many to power.

    In the long term his foreign policy was an unmitigated failure. The rationale for Vietnam collapsed afer no more dominoes toppled as a consequence of the US defeat. The support of dictatorships merely increased the level of global instability and created new opportunities for the Soviets and other anti-US interests. Support for the Shah led to the Iranian revolution.

    On the domestic side the situation of the 1970s was entirely different. The poverty rate was significantly higher and much of the middle class lived on the edge of prosperity and thus understood the need for the welfare state.

    In the long term I expect that the period 1980-2000 in which there was a global resurgence of Conservative greed will come to be seen as a transitional period. The majority of the middle class was able to rise to a point where it didn’t expect to depend on the minimal US welfare state but poor enough to mind the expense of taxes.

    At this point it is the Bush recession that is the issue for middle america, not the tax rate. To the extent that tax rates are an issue it is the fact that the unfunded Bush tax cuts has led to massive foreign debt which in turn has led to the current weakness of the dollar which has in turn led to higher oil prices which are certainly an aggravating factor in the Bush recession.

    The other cause of the Bush recession is the regulatory failure of the banking system and the property price boom and sub-prime meltdown they have caused. During the 1970s Nixon and most progressives were in favor of deregulation and there was certainly an argument to be made that the country was over-regulated. In particular the banking world and telecommunications were regulated in accordance with 1930s rules.

    Today it is very clear that the pendulum has swung too far the other way and that the taxpayer has been left with a massive liability as a result. It is also clear that many businesses ahave far too little regulation for their own good. The banks who lent prudently could not compete with the ones that were negligent. The result was a string of acquisitions. A similar effect was seen in the UK where the government did its best to cover up the BSE scandal and almost destroyed the beef industry as a result. It has yet to be seen if the Bushies have not done the same thing in the US.

    But the biggest reason the comparison is irrelevant is that Nixon was a pragmatist, not an idealogue. The real division in politics is between politicians who view the world as it is and those who work from some little red book.

    Traditionally the conservative cause is pragmatic government in the interests of the rich while the left has been committed to an ideological program intended to benefit the poor. In general pragmatic government trumps ideology every time. The poor are much better off with a pragmatic government than an idealistic one, even if it has different interests.

    We are now at a point where the interests of the rich are best served by a government whose primary objective is to serve the interests of the middle class and the poor rather than an ideological government that attempts to serve their own interests but does so with the abject level of incompetence we have seen for eight years,.

  2. DC Ruling says:

    Great response PHB!!! I need to think this over for a bit but I will come back and try to add a bit. very interesting to think of Nixon as more of a progressive.



  3. Ire Man says:

    Nixon was “a McCarthyite cold warrior obsessed with the threat of the Soviet Union” Wait, no, he was “a pragmatist, not an ideologue.”

    As a rule, the right act pragmatically in the interests of the rich which [magically?] makes the poor “much better off.” The left are “committed to an ideological program” which fails in its “idealistic” intent.

    Facts being unnecessary in the face of this onslaught of assertion, the next commenter finds all this a “great response.”

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