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Letters to the Editor
Eisenhower
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 • Posted September 26, 2012

Dear Gerry,

Let me echo Lynn Reichenau’s appreciation for your setting up a pre-election political format for us to read both positions and think about them. I look forward to your posing questions for each side’s response as we approach election time.

I’ve mentioned one of my favorite TV events before, CSPAN’s “ Book TV” aired each weekend. One book festival on Saturday featured authors of books about Eisenhower, probably a favorite president of those of us old enough to remember him. As one author summarized some of Ike’s major achievements, I couldn’t help but compare Republican Ike with the Republican platform recently described. How times have changed!We all know Ike initiated the building of our interstate highway system. Being a believer in a balanced budget, he funded it by a tax on gasoline. (The following wasn’t mentioned, but I already knew that under Ike, the highest personal income tax bracket was in the 90%’s). Apparently Ike’s Republicanism allowed for a tax hike, as well as a highly progressive income tax formula. Every statistic available shows that our economic growth is not stunted by higher income tax rates. Ironically the opposite is true; America has thrived during times of high taxes!

I never heard this economic practice “of those who have much, much is expected” described as “class warfare” against the wealthy, as it is today.

When Ike was first elected, he had a Republican Congress. Two years later, he had a Democratic Congress. Next to nothing was accomplished during his first two years, but Ike got along well with the Democratic House and Senate (LBJ) leaders. Ike’s major accomplishments occurred when these leaders from different political parties worked together for the good of the nation. I think the Republican obstructionism in Congress, now earning them a polled favorability rating of 13%, needs to take a Conservative look backwards to see how bipartisanship can profit everyone and quit signing pledges and oaths that don’t help. Here’s the latest example of how this partisanship has shot us in the foot. Just the other day, the Senate Republicans managed to defeat a bill which would help our veterans get jobs. The gobsmacker is that the bill, as presented, was already funded! If anyone can explain how this is anything but a politically motivated maneuver to keep jobs from happening (and thus be able to say the Democrats can’t handle the economy), as with the defeat of the jobs bill, I think we’d all like to understand.

The thing I remember most about Ike’s presidency is what happened towards its end, because by then I was able to notice things. I refer to Ike’s ordering the National Guard into a Southern state to force a black’s admission to the state university. I mentally compared that to the Republican response on Wednesday that the party advocated for states’ rights. Ike was not necessarily motivated by a social agenda. He sent in the troops because “the law is the law.” That made me examine not the theoretical validity of states’ rights, but the practicality of emphasizing it. Right now, I’m leaning towards the thinking that too many humans are just too easily corrupted and power hungry, and those sorts seem to thrive better in smaller areas. It seems to take the often more civically just federal laws to keep a lot of things in check. Just a few years back, if left to the state of Colorado, homosexuals could be denied housing. Not so long ago, it was the law in one state that a black had to give his seat on a bus to a white. I have no idea how many states forbade interracial marriages, but very recently a JP in Louisiana denied an interracial couple’s request to marry and in another state this year or last, an integrated church refused to marry a black couple who belonged to the church. There is so much prejudice out there, so many people whose “inalienable rights” are routinely trounced upon that while states’ rights sounds good in theory, to me it also sounds like a way to go backwards. It is just so often that it’s the federal laws that keep things fair.

Keep up the good work!

Helen Liston

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