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Charles Linderman, Published March 05 2012

Letter: Previous Republican presidents would not recognize today’s GOP

Listening to the Republican presidential candidates, specifically Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, we hear that President Barack Obama is a socialist with a radical agenda to take away your freedom, indoctrinate your children, start class warfare, and destroy the American dream and the Christian church. I wonder if these Republicans know anything about history?

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, stated in a message to Congress, “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital …”

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was known as the “trust buster” for his efforts to rein in the excesses of big corporations and their monopoly power. He was one of the first to propose a graduated income tax and a steeply graduated estate tax on the very wealthy.

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the dangers of too much power and influence of a large military-industrial complex.

Republican President Richard Nixon proposed a system to provide affordable health care to all Americans (much like the one that was finally adopted). He also signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency (yes, the EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Republican President Ronald Reagan strengthened the Earned Income Credit to help the working poor. He signed the Tax Reform Act, which ended tax preference for capital gains and taxed all income at the same rates. He also signed several tax increases.

I doubt these former Republican presidents would even recognize the party that applauds the crazed rhetoric we hear from today’s candidates. Just imagine what the Republican candidates would say if President Obama proposed anything even half as liberal as the things that former Republican presidents said and did. The current Republicans would lose their voices screaming, and they would run out of adjectives and bad names to call President Obama.

The political pundits talk about the liberal left and the conservative right. But it seems that the mainstream conservative position as personified by former Republican presidents is now defined as extreme left by present-day Republicans. Rather than left versus right, the current presidential campaign is between the moderate middle occupied by President Obama and the extreme right occupied by the clown show that is the Republican presidential campaign. For the sake of our country, we better hope and pray the moderate middle prevails.