Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remember the Moderates!

God Bless, David Frum.

I've always appreciated Frum, even if I don't always agree with him. He has always been an open-minded sort of fellow, a thoughtful conservative. (Plus, as a native Michigander who lived an hour from the Canadian border, I loved watching his mother, Barbara Frum on the Canadian Broadcasting newsprogram, the Journal.)

Frum has an introductory post on his website, where he introduces a series of articles highlighting the forgotten history of moderates in the Republican Party.

Here is what he says about moderates:

The Republican Party tends to be most successful when it attracts moderates as well as true-believing conservatives to the tent.

There is a long, often overlooked tradition of moderates in the GOP, and moderates have been an integral component of the party throughout the century and a half since its founding in 1854. Barack Obama, in his attempt to seize the political center, surely aims to claim the Republicans’ neglected moderate heritage as his own, as evidenced by his swearing-in on Lincoln’s bible and the conscious appropriation of moderate themes in his inaugural address.

Democrats remember and honor their past champions. Republicans too often forget them

It means something when one of the leading conservatives in North America understands that moderates in the GOP are not "RINOs," but a long-standing wing of the GOP, that deserve respect, not derision.

He goes on to say that Geoffrey Kabaservice will be writing a series of profiles on moderates starting with Henry Stimson, a self-professed "progressive conservative." Kabaservice sums up his political philosophy:

The sort of East Coast, upper-class Republican progressivism that Roosevelt and Stimson embodied manifested itself through liberal policies undertaken for conservative reasons, social reform not necessarily motivated by social conscience. Because Stimson and other progressives wished to preserve the social order from which they had benefited handsomely, they thought it necessary to prevent a violent working class revolution by creating a modern welfare state, much as Otto von Bismarck had done in Germany in the 1880s. The policies advocated by Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism” included government regulation of corporate power, a minimum wage, child labor laws, unemployment compensation for workers, progressive income taxes and inheritance taxes. Progressives also opposed the boss rule of corrupt (and usually Democratic) urban machines and formed Good Government Clubs (leading their detractors to mock them as “goo-goos”). Many progressives left the GOP after Roosevelt’s bolt from the 1912 convention to form the Bull Moose Party, and some never returned, but the progressive tradition survived within the Republican ranks through individuals like Stimson.

In foreign policy, Stimson carried forth the Roosevelt maxim to “speak softly and carry a big stick.” He was an ardent internationalist, at odds with the prevailing isolationism of Republican conservatives (especially in the Midwest). He felt that it was in the nation’s best interest to engage with the rest of the world in forums such as the League of Nations and its successor the United Nations. At the same time, Stimson was convinced that the U.S. could only maintain peace by preparing for war; the country “could not long remain safe in a world where aggressors were allowed to roam free.” Stimson led the military preparedness movement before the First World War, and helped lead the fight for rearmament and a military draft before the Second. As Hoover’s Secretary of War, in the wake of Japan’s seizure of Manchuria from China in 1931, he articulated the Stimson Doctrine: the U.S. would not recognize any international territorial gains based on conquest. The U.S. invoked the Stimson Doctrine following the Soviet Union’s annexation of the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 1940, and the policy of non-recognition remained in effect until those countries regained their independence in 1991. The doctrine to which he gave his name was not, in the case of Manchuria, Stimson’s preferred policy; he wanted Hoover to impose sanctions on the Japanese and was disgusted that the president refused to brandish the “big stick” of American power against aggression.

Read the whole thing.

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