Saturday, September 09, 2006

If Ike could see us now

The excerpts below are some of what former General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower had to say about past Republican governance. They are from the speech he delivered to the 1964 Republican Convention. He is proud that his party disdains the "expansion of federal influence," the "sinister trend toward paternalism," an "increase in the concentration of power in Washington," and "charging our bills to posterity."

Say, what?

• • •

I am here this evening, first of all, as a citizen of the United States, with primary allegiance to my country; but second, I am here, with great pride, as a Republican. I am dedicated to the purposes of this party; I am jealous of its good name; I am grateful to those among us who represent us all by their discharge of political responsibility. ...

In the last thirty-two years, our political opponents have controlled the executive branch of the Federal Government for twenty-four, and the Congress for twenty-eight. During this period our money was recklessly devalued, with great hardship visited upon much of our citizenry. The expansion of federal influence was made permanent policy, even though its miserable lack of success in the economic arena persisted until the violent demands of war obscured the unhappy failure. The centralizing process even went so far as to include an attempt, by summary executive power, to seize the steel industry. . . .

The sinister trend toward paternalism, which now again grows apace, was interrupted only by the eight-year determination of a Republican administration in the 1950's. That administration . . . insisted that all public responsibilities be carried out, wherever possible, by local and state governments; by the federal government only when necessary. . . . It was an administration which set its face directly for the people and their well-being and directly against any increase in the concentration of power in Washington. . . .

By our insistence upon paying now for what we demand from government today, instead of charging our bills to posterity, we are seeing to it that those who follow us will not one day be working out their lives, paying off gigantic debts run up through our own selfishness and profligacy.

This concern for the future is in keeping with Republican conviction and American tradition. America is here, not just for a day or a century. In the Constitution we read, as the purpose of our inspired founders, "To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity." Any political party that counsels us to ignore the needs of tomorrow, so that, on deficit spending, we may live today in comfort and ease, is false to America's true meaning and to her destiny. Our policy of sound conduct of fiscal affairs is simply proof of our concern for all Americans, both now and in the future.

A couple of more gems from the General:

"If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government."
-- Speech to luncheon clubs, Galveston, Texas, December 8, 1949, when he was president of Columbia University.

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity. War settles nothing."
-- Speech in Ottawa, Canada, January 10, 1946.

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