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It has been suggested by more than one observer that the Republican leaders of yesterday wouldn’t stand a chance in today’s GOP. With the Republican Party now solidly in the grip of right wing extremists, to my mind it would hardly be a contest. This is no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and, um, Richard Nixon. Even Barry Goldwater would have a hard time getting seated at this year’s Republican convention.

The following are actual quotations by members of the Republican pantheon that in 2012 would get them chased out of town hall meetings and pilloried on Fox News. Can you identify which radical, tree-hugging class warriors made -- and meant -- these outrageously "lefty" sound bites?

The answers may be found at the end. No peeking!


1. “The Republican Party must be known as a progressive organization or it is sunk. I believe this so emphatically that I think far from appeasing or reasoning with the dyed-in-the-wool reactionary fringe, we should completely ignore it and, when necessary, repudiate it."

2. “Intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.”

3. “Let me give you a definition of the word ‘liberal.’…Franklin D. Roosevelt once said…It is a wonderful definition, and I agree with him. ‘A liberal is a man who wants to build bridges over the chasms that separate humanity from a better life.’”

4. "I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state.  The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don't hurt anyone else in the process."

5. “The Republican party or any political party has got to recognize the problems of a growing and complex industrial civilization. And I don't think the Republican party is really wide awake to that.”

6. “If the right wing wants a fight, they are going to get it.”

7. “I'm conservative, but I'm not a nut about it.”


1. “I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right.”

2. “Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’"

3. "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] Party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know; I've tried to deal with them.”

4. “In the long term we can hope that religion will change the nature of man and reduce conflict. But history is not encouraging in this respect. The bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars.”

5. “No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.”

6. “I do not believe it is right for one group to impose its vision of morality on an entire society.”

7. “I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."

8. “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.”


1. "A woman has a right to an abortion. That's a decision that's up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right."

2. “It has been a long while since the United States had any imperialistic designs toward the outside world. But we have practiced within our own boundaries something that amounts to race imperialism.”

3. “Legislation to apply the principle of equal pay for equal work without discrimination because of sex is a matter of simple justice.”

4. “The big thing is to make this country… quit discriminating against people just because they're gay. You don't have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that's what brings me into it. Having spent 37 years of my life in the military as a reservist … I just thought, why the hell shouldn't they serve? They're American citizens.”

5. "We would not impose quotas, but would require federal contractors to show affirmative action to meet the goals of increasing minority employment."

6. “When we talk of freedom and opportunity for all nations, the mocking paradoxes in our own society become so clear they can no longer be ignored.”

7. “I favor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it must be enforced, at gunpoint if necessary.”


1. “No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar's worth of service rendered — not gambling in stocks, but service rendered.”

2. “Rugged individualism is nothing but a political banner to cover up greed.”

3. “I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective, a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.”

4. “More than nine million low-income people who pay taxes will be dropped from the tax rolls. This results primarily from the special low income allowance that I proposed… as a means of making sure that people at or below the poverty level do not have to pay Federal income taxes. A large number of high-income persons who have paid little or no Federal income taxes will now bear a fairer share of the tax burden through enactment of a minimum income tax comparable to the proposal that I submitted to the Congress, which closes the loopholes that permitted much of this tax avoidance.”

5. “We’re going to close the unproductive loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share…. Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less?"

6. “Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.”

7. "This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations."

8. “I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.”

9. “The unrestricted competition so commonly advocated does not leave us the survival of the fittest. The unscrupulous succeed best in accumulating wealth.”


1. "If I were an employee, a working man ... or a wage-earner of any sort, I undoubtedly would join a union of my trade... I believe in the union and I believe that all men are morally bound to help to the extent of their powers in the common interests advanced by the union.

2. “Today in America, unions have a secure place in our industrial life. Only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions and depriving working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice. I have no use for those -- regardless of their political party -- who hold some vain and foolish dream of spinning the clock back to days when organized labor was huddled, almost as a hapless mass. Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice.”

3. "By outlawing Solidarity, a free trade organization to which an overwhelming majority of Polish workers and farmers belong, they have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union.”

4. “All that harms labor is treason to America.”


1. “We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in state and nation for …the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment, and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance….”

2. “Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job. … Comprehensive health insurance is an idea whose time has come in America.”

3. “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”


1. “I see no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

2. “It's just plain common sense that there be a waiting period to allow local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on those who wish to buy a handgun.”

3. "I support and promote local and national gun control laws and organizations. If a guy can't hit a deer in one shote, he sure as hell isn't much of a hunter."

4. “Guns are an abomination.”


1. “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”

2. “War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed.”

3. “I can tell you this: If I'm ever in a position to call the shots, I'm not going to rush to send somebody else's kids into a war.”

4. “Either win the war in a relatively short time, say within a year, or pull out all our troops and come home.”

5. “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 are not clothed. ... 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 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. 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.”

6. “Our military is absolutely incapable of defending this country.”

7. “We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”

8. “Never forget that the most powerful force on earth is love.”


1. “The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life.”

2. “The goal of my energy policy… was in the long run, to stimulate the production of energy from renewable sources… and, in the short run, to cut back our dependency on unreliable foreign suppliers of oil."

3. "Let this be our national goal: … the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes, and to keep our transportation moving."


ON IDEOLOGY:  (1) Dwight Eisenhower, (2) William F. Buckley, (3) Richard Nixon, (4) Barry Goldwater, (5) Alf Landon, (6) Eisenhower, (7) George H. W. Bush

ON RELIGION: (1) Goldwater, (2) Goldwater, (3) Goldwater, (4) Nixon, (5) William H. Taft, (6) Nelson Rockefeller, (7) Taft, (8) Abraham Lincoln

ON CIVIL RIGHTS: (1) Goldwater, (2) Wendell Willkie, (3) Eisenhower, (4) Goldwater, (5) Nixon, (6) Willkie, (7) Ronald Reagan

ON TAXES, CORPORATIONS & THE 1%: (1) Theodore Roosevelt, (2) George (“Mitt’s Dad”) Romney, (3) Roosevelt, (4) Nixon, (5) Reagan, (6) Roosevelt, (7) Rutherford B. Hayes, (8) Roosevelt, (9) Hayes

ON LABOR & UNIONS: (1) Roosevelt, (2) Roosevelt, (3) Reagan, (4) Lincoln

ON UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE & SOCIAL SECURITY: (1) Roosevelt, (2) Nixon, (3) Eisenhower

ON GUN CONTROL: (1) Reagan, (2) Reagan, (3) Goldwater (4) Nixon

ON WAR & NATIONAL SECURITY: (1) Lincoln, (2) William McKinley, (3) Bush, (4) Goldwater, (5) Eisenhower, (6) Reagan, (7) Eisenhower, (8) Rockefeller

ON ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT: (1) Roosevelt, (2) Nixon, (3) Nixon

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