A good article debunking the myth sometimes heard around here that Richard Nixon was a liberal. I agree with the author's take on it. I was 13 when Nixon was elected and 17 when re-elected and Nixon was a murderous pig with much blood on his hands. Many died because of the war. His whole history was using anti-communism for partisan purposes. Allende happened under Nixon. At home he signed bills by the Democratic Congress and that is where the myth comes from. He did not veto everything. When people credit Nixon for the hard work of liberals, it pisses me off.
Anyway, I thought this was the most important part:
The framing of this sums up the problem. Richard Nixon didn’t do these good things for the environment, or at least certainly not by himself. Congress and the American people did. Nixon was making a shrewd political calculation by signing this legislation. He was more scared of environmentalists than business. Environmentalists held more legislative power than business in the early 1970s. It wasn’t until after the Powell Memo in 1971 that corporations got in gear and began pushing back. That coincided with the economic troubles and oil crises of the 1970s and the decline of the liberal consensus, opening the door for decades of conservative counterrevolution that continues today.Erik Loomis, Lawyers, Guns and Money
By thinking of our past and present entirely in terms of presidential politics, we make enormous mistakes in understanding how change occurs. No president is ever going to create the change we want. Only through organizing for policy changes does this happen. It’s not Barack Obama that is making gay rights a reality. It’s millions of gays and lesbians and their supporters demanding equality. Such was the same with civil rights and Johnson or New Deal policies and FDR. Electing the right president is important, but if you have enough power to scare politicians, they are likely to do more of what you want them to do than your enemies want them to do. That’s why Richard Nixon signed that environmental and economic legislation.
So I’d not only argue this Nixon as liberal construction is wrong, I’d argue it is dangerous because it distracts us from creating the change we want.
The work of organizing and influencing people is difficult. There are many set backs and no guarantees. But organizing people to fight on issues, electing congress people who will be scared and act, and electing a president is what it takes. I think President Obama raised expectations he could never meet with "hope and change," but he is a politician and needed to get elected to make any changes.
Until there is a real movement for change, little will happen.