Presidential Historian Meacham: We Could Learn a Lot from the Dwight Eisenhower Era

Presidential Historian Meacham: We Could Learn a Lot from the Dwight Eisenhower Era


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Contemporary US leaders, including Donald Trump, could learn a lot from how Dwight Eisenhower conducted his presidency during the 1950s, according to historian and author Jon Meacham.

“You have a Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 saying, ‘I’m not going to rip up the New Deal, it’s part of the fabric of the country,'” Meacham said. “That sets up an amazing run of prosperity, it helps set up the work of the civil rights movement. It helps set up our posture in the Cold War. And a peaceable posture. Not a single soldier died in combat under Dwight Eisenhower.

“And that is where he was asking a Republican Party to change its orthodoxy. And they didn’t like it, but they did it,” Meacham added. “And that’s an era we could go back to — that we can learn a lot from.”

For instance, current Republicans–rather than accept the Affordable Care Act approved under President Barack Obama–expended great effort to attempt to repeal the healthcare reform law, even in the face of rising public embrace of the reform law in recent years.

The Founders of the United States actually did anticipate a president like Trump when they established the federal government, Meacham said.

“I think that in some ways, this is what the Founders in many ways expected,” he said. “It would have stunned them that it took 243 years to get a demagogue as president. They would have been incredibly pleased with themselves. Now, they were thinking about Patrick Henry. They were thinking about Aaron Burr but when people say, ‘Oh, the Founders never anticipated Donald Trump,’ the hell they didn’t. It’s just wrong.”

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