Inspired by Chris Matthews’s “The Rise of the New Right” shown on MSNBC last night, I was anxious to find out more about how this attitude came to be. The more I looked into it the more I discovered that party platforms had nothing to do with the espoused rhetoric of the few. It was more about the person than it ever was about a particular party. This series of articles will show how the similarities between people are astounding and it has nothing to do with the party that they choose to belong to. Using the information from Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) and Spartacus Educational (www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk), I intend to show you just how ideologies can triumphs party, where the affiliations can be changed but the philosophy never does. Many of these people you have met before and some you may have not. For those you have met, you may learn something new and for those that you have not, prepare yourself. Thanks to Chris Matthews who opened my eyes and I hope that I can do half as good a job with others as his documentary did for me.
The only memory I have of the lesson taught in school regarding Richard M. Nixon was Watergate and his resignation. What I have learned about him since places him upon my list as one of the better presidents instead of one of the worst. I wish to show you the new vision have of our 37th President of the United States.
Nixon first gained national attention in 1948 when his investigation on the House un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) broke the impasse of the Alger Hiss spy case. He was selected to be the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party nominee, in the 1952 Presidential election, becoming one of the youngest Vice Presidents in history. As President of the Senate, he intervened to make procedural rulings on filibusters to assure the passage of Eisenhower’s 1957 civil rights bill, which created the United States Commission on Civil Rights and protected voting rights. During his time as President Nixon accomplished a lot even though there may be things that he could have done better, one can not argue that there were things that he did best.
Things like initiating the Environmental Decade by signing the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act of 1970 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act amendments of 1972, as well as establishing many government agencies. These included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Council on Environmental Quality. The Clean Air Act was noted as one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation ever signed. In 1971, Nixon proposed the creation of four new government departments superseding the current structure: departments organized for the goal of efficient and effective public service as opposed to the thematic bases of Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Agriculture, et al. Departments including the State, Treasury, Defense, and Justice would remain under this proposal. He reorganized the Post Office Department from a cabinet department to a government-owned corporation: the U.S. Postal Service. Nixon cut billions of dollars in federal spending and expanded the power of the Office of Management and Budget. He established the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1972 and supported the Legacy of parks program, which transferred ownership of federally owned land to the states, resulting in the establishment of state parks and beaches, recreational areas, and environmental education centers.
The Nixon years witnessed the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South. Strategically, Nixon sought a middle way between the segregationist George C. Wallace and liberal Democrats, whose support of integration was alienating some Southern white Democrats. He was determined to implement exactly what the courts had ordered- desegregation – but did not favor busing children. He felt that racism was the greatest moral failure of the United States and concentrated on the principle that the law must be color-blind: “I am convinced that while legal segregation is totally wrong, forced integration of housing or education is just as wrong.”
I had been under the impression that the Democratic Party was the party for individuals who looked like me and they were the only party that looked out for those less fortunate. Through this exercise, I have come to learned that it’s not the party but the individual that I should be concentrating on. The HUAC was filled with Democrats who refused to investigate the Klan and may have even been more involved than just a sympathizer and here was Nixon, a Republican who showed more compassion for those less fortunate than those previous. I had wondered where those that belonged to the party of Lincoln had gone. I know now that they still exist and that they have already learned the lesson that the rest of us have yet to grasp. Loyalty is not to a particular party but to a particular person.
As far as the degree of separation, Nixon was also a member of the HUAC with John Rankin, Martin Dies and John S. Wood. He defeated Gahagan Douglas for the U. S. Senate who was reportedly having an affair with Lyndon B. Johnson. And let’s forget that one-third of the membership of the John Birch Society stood with Nixon while two-thirds supported Barry Goldwater, who lost to Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Grab your pencils America, time to connect the dots.