“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 not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is
spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its
children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000.
We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a
single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000
people. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of
threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
These words were spoken by an American whose era seems long forgotten.
Today, we would be lucky to have a person like this on the ballot, Democrat
or Republican; someone who believed that the success of the economy is
directly tied to the health of the workers; that the quality of our food markets,
not the Stock Market, is the source and measure of our health.
Someone who bemoaned scarcity because it wastes the potential of our
talents, intelligence, and energy; someone who could lead us without
condemning an entire religion, who said “our form of government has no
sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care
what it is.”
Someone who managed global projects without cheating people or declaring
bankruptcy, who used concrete to make highways to connect people, not to
build walls; who never profited from their status, and donated their farm to the
National Park Service to preserve a sacred battlefield of our Civil War.
Someone who saw diplomacy and compromise as the heart of strength, not
as a sign of weakness, who spoke with forethought, knew how to strategize
and didn’t brag that they were a "stable genius" or accuse others of being
“low-IQ.” Someone who knew that our values and reputation in the world are
important enough to build an entire military on, not the other way around.
Someone who feared the growing power of the Federal government even
while sending the US Army to protect Black schoolchildren in Arkansas from
violence, declaring racial discrimination a “national security issue.”
That someone was Dwight Eisenhower, who might not even recognize the
political party he represented as the 34th President of the United States.
Today he could campaign as a moderate Democrat, if it wasn’t for his
“Lavender Scare” Executive Order 10450 that purged over 5,000 Federal
employees suspected of being homosexuals during the 1950’s.
Reading his words makes one wonder if he would view todays’ Republican
leadership as a cabal, abusing our democratic system to protect and
preserve their own wealth. Always suspicious of Soviet Russia, he would
probably advise us to be just as wary of American oligarchs as we are of their
In 1954, he said "I have just one purpose ... and that is to build up a strong
progressive Republican Party in this country. If the right wing wants a fight,
they are going to get it ... before I end up, either this Republican Party will
reflect progressivism or I won't be with them anymore." Evidently, a five-star
General of the US Army, the Supreme Commander of the Allied
Expeditionary Force in the European Theater, who called himself a
“progressive conservative,” was too liberal for some in the GOP.
Today it’s obvious that we have to continue his fight, because the entire
Republican Party itself seems to have become the “right wing” Eisenhower
warned us about, for good reason, nearly 70 years ago.