“Much of the current conservative movement is characterized by this sort of historical amnesia and symbolic parricide, which seeks to undo key aspects of the Republican legacy such as Reagan’s elimination of corporate tax loopholes, Nixon’s environmental and labor safety programs, and a variety of G.O.P. achievements in civil rights, civil liberties, and good government reforms,” Kabaservice writes. “In the long view of history, it is really today’s conservatives who are ‘Republicans in name only.’ ”
After all, the original Massachusetts moderates were legendary figures in Republican history, like Elihu Root and Henry Cabot Lodge. Theodore Roosevelt embraced progressivism as “the highest and wisest form of conservatism.” Few did more to promote racial integration, civil rights and individual freedoms than a Republican, Earl Warren, in his years as chief justice.
Dwight Eisenhower cautioned against excess military spending as “a theft from those who hunger and are not fed.” Richard Nixon proposed health care reform. Ronald Reagan endorsed the same tax rate for capital gains as for earned income. Each of these titans of Republican Party history would today risk mockery for these views.