I supposed I could have entitled this “My, how things have changed” but I would much rather you thought about what follows and its implications for the present time.
The death of Ted Kennedy and the retrospective on PBS on the Kennedy brothers got me to drag out my beaten and falling apart copy of The Making of the President – 1960 (Theodore White). This was one of the first books I ever purchased and I made sure that I had copies of the books he wrote about the Presidential elections in 1964, 1968, and 1972. The series that he wrote offers an insight in the ways that politics have changed from the mid-1950’s.
But the reason for this little piece is what Theodore White wrote about the Republican Party in Chapter 3:
Now that the Democrats have captured the liberal imagination of the nation, it is forgotten how much of the architecture of America’s liberal society was drafted by the Republicans. Today they are regarded as the Party of the right. Yet this is the Party that abolished slavery, wrote the first laws of civil service, passed the first antitrust, railway control, consumer-protective, and conservation legislation, and then led America, with enormous diplomatic skill,out into that posture of global leadership and responsibility we now so desperately try to maintain.
The fact that all this has been almost forgotten by the current stylists of our culture is in itself significant. For until this century and down through its first decade the natural home party of the American intellectual, writer, savant and artist was the Republican Party. Its men of sate and diplomacy were, as often as not, thinkers and scholars;; and it is doubtful whether any President, even Wilson or the second Roosevelt, made the White House so familiar a mansion to writers and artists as did Theodore Roosevelt (who, indeed, was also one of the founders of the Author’s League of America).
I do not believe that either political party today can make any claim, whatsoever, on the political heritage of this country. And it is fair to say that the political rhetoric that is taking place today is, at the least, an embarrassment to the heritage of this country.
It is just something to think about.