Republicans Then and Now

How many readers are familiar with President Dwight D. Eisenhower? (How many younger readers know we had a President Eisenhower?) Eisenhower was the first Republican President since Hoover, and he is worth learning about.

Here are some Eisenhower quotes.

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.” Canadian Club. Ottawa. Canada January 10. 1946

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” “The Chance for Peace” Address April 16. 1953

“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.” TV Talk with Prime Minister Macmillan August 31. 1959

And then there is his “Farewell Address” of January 17, 1961, just before leaving the Presidency. It is worthwhile to take the time to read the entire address, but here are some excerpts:

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Eisenhower was a great leader who cared about our country and the world and the future of both — rather than focusing just on the short-term gains of his political party. He warned of the consequences of “unwarranted influence” of a “military-industrial complex.” How the Republicans have changed. Now Eisenhower’s party is the military-industrial complex, and we see the consequences of the “disastrous rise of misplaced power” he warned us about.