The Weakly Standard:
Four years later, the protest wing of the Democratic party was in the saddle and delivered the nomination to George McGovern. Whatever similarity might be discerned between the Tea Party and the antiwar movement, the Tea Party has not remade the Republican party in anything like the way the New Left remade the Democrats, or else Ron Paul or Herman Cain would be the nominee instead of Mitt Romney.
LBJ is only the first of many supposedly liberal heroes who would be unacceptable to the liberal base today. Start with Franklin Roosevelt. Despite his New Deal programs, he piled up a considerable record of statements that would be anathema to contemporary liberal orthodoxy. “The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me,” he told Congress in 1935, “show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief . . . is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” A liberal can’t talk about our welfare state that way today.
FDR opposed public employee unions. In a 1937 letter to a public employees’ association, FDR wrote: “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. . . . Militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.”
FDR, an Episcopalian, made the kind of remarks about religion that send the American Civil Liberties Union into paroxysms of rage when someone like George W. Bush or Sarah Palin says the same thing today. During World War II, FDR wrote a preface for an edition of the New Testament that was distributed to American troops: “As Commander-in-Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States.” On the eve of the 1940 election, FDR said in a campaign radio address: “Freedom of speech is of no use to a man who has nothing to say and freedom of worship is of no use to a man who has lost his God.” Today, the left-wing fever swamps would call this “Christianism.”
Environmentalists would stoutly oppose FDR because of his massive public works projects, such as the giant habitat-destroying dams on the Columbia River and in the Tennessee Valley. The car-haters of the left decry FDR for promoting urban sprawl and road-building. Historian James Flink wrote, “The American people could not have done worse in 1932 had they deliberately set out to elect a president who was ignorant of the implications of the automobile revolution.”
Okay, I admit TWS is a wingnut site, but they have a point. FDR was a foreign policy hawk, he smoked cigarettes and he had a mistress. He was rich too.
If he were alive today, could FDR win the Democratic nomination? Ronald Reagan was a “liberal” New Deal Democrat and a supporter of FDR. Years later he said “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” Does that sound familiar?
The only two-term Democratic president in my lifetime is Bill Clinton, and the Progs call him a Republican. They also bashed Hillary for being too conservative.
What do you think?