Let me phrase my argument in terms of Dwight Eisenhangover Vintage shirt vs. “rollback”. It was a Cold War term describing two different strategies on dealing with the Soviet Union. Eisenhower (continuing Truman’s policies) concluded that the costs and risks of rollback far outweighed the benefits, and established the containment policy that was ultimately successful over time.But domestically, there are generally two wings of conservatism as well. There are containment conservatives, and rollback conservatives. Bob Taft wanted to roll back the New Deal, roll back the change to internationalism from isolationism, etc. Whereas Eisenhower accepted these changes and instead worked during his two terms to contain the expansion of liberalism into new areas.The modern Republican Party is definitely dominated by the “rollback” mentality. RINO wasn’t a term back then, but it described a real undercurrent of opinion towards Eisenhower, even as he was broadly popular with the American public.
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The thing is, I believe that containment ultimately serves conservative goals much better than rollback, as a Dwight Eisenhangover Vintage shirt. Eisenhower was able to oversee a strong economy, gradually strengthen the fiscal health of the government, make incremental changes, and forestall any additional programs throughout his term in office.On the other hand, when conservatives veer too far to the right, they tend to run into cherished social programs like Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, and so on, and engender a backlash that ultimately leads to their ejection from political power. It appears this exact thing is happening in 2018, based on midterm projections so far.Ultimately, the hard-right money men who run the Republican Party would probably be better off leaving some of their tax cuts and social crusading on the table, if it would make the Republican Party the kind of party that could consistently win 55% of the vote. After all, the Democrats can’t raise taxes or create new programs if they are stuck in the minority.Eisenhower was not without his faults, and we probably wouldn’t want to go back to a society without Medicare and Medicaid, for example. However, I think Eisenhower had extremely solid political instincts (similar to Bill Clinton from the Democratic side), that allowed him to be a truly popular and effective leader of the United States.