I doubt anyone thinks of Richard Nixon as a liberal. I know I don’t. However, the United States has shifted so far to the right today that many of the actions taken by staunch conservatives a few decades ago appear liberal by today’s standards. And, that is the point of this post. Many of today’s conservatives, especially the neocon right wing nut jobs, but even today’s relative moderates think that today’s definition of conservative is the same as it ever was.
This is not the case. This nation has shifted so far to the right that we can’t even see the center anymore.
As proof, I intend to take an icon of conservativism, Tricky Dick, and show that today, he would be viewed as liberal, though probably not truly bleeding heart. According to the Richard Nixon wikipedia page, Nixon did some things that would still be considered conservative today. However, he is also credited with all of the following:
- imposed wage and price controls.
- indexed Social Security for inflation.
- created Supplemental Security Income.
- created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- created Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- promoted the Legacy of parks program.
- implemented the Philadelphia Plan, the first significant federal affirmative action program.
- dramatically improved salaries for US federal employees worldwide.
- signed a bill that lowered the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 miles per hour to conserve gasoline during the 1973 energy crisis.
- established the Office of Minority Business Enterprise.
- On February 6, 1974, he introduced the Comprehensive Health Insurance Act. Nixon’s plan would have mandated employers to purchase health insurance for their employees, and in addition provided a federal health plan like Medicaid that any American could join by paying on a sliding scale based on income.
Britannica Online confirms some of these but gives far less detail.
My point though is not whether Tricky Dick was a good president or not. My point is that anyone taking these stances on so many issues could not possibly be considered conservative today. And yet, there was no doubt that he was considered conservative at the time. As the objects in the universe that are far away can be considered red-shifted because they appear redder from here based on the Doppler effect of the light coming from them, so too can this country now be considered right-shifted, severely so in my opinion.
The New York Times, once a symbol of the establishment along with the Wall Street Journal, without changing their stance on politics, is now considered a liberal rag. Both Clintons and Barrack Obama are considered liberal despite both of them being significantly right of the old center.
Where are today’s true liberals? His name is Dennis Kucinich. And, no one even bothers to give him any media coverage, even when he wins the debates. Once, NBC did not even report a winner for the debate to avoid naming him as the winner. They just call him unelectable and we drink the Kool-Aid.
Here’s an interesting article from Harper’s Magazine of someone else’s opinion of the right-shifting of the United States. I have NOT verified the facts in the article and make no claims of its veracity. However, it is an interesting read. Thanks to Tony for the reference.
Lastly, I got the title of this from the fact that The Big Dick actually appeared on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. He even said the classic Laugh-In line …
Thanks to Rose for a comment over drinks that gave me the idea to write this post.
UPDATE: Curious where you fit? Take the Political Compass Test. This is the best version I’ve seen and offers comparisons with some famous world leaders. (I should probably put quotes around leaders since W is in the list.)