A few hours ago I was pulling out of the Real D parking lot and onto Crescent Drive, and right in front of me — hah! — was a “President Nixon — Now More Than Ever” bumper sticker on a recent-model Beemer. I laughed, of course — best one of the day. I wasn’t fast enough to take a photo, but this 1972 bumper sticker is all over the web.
Richard Nixon was in some ways a resentful, paranoid and self-destructive fellow, and he’ll always have a shadowy rep for having inaugurated the “Southern Strategy” — i.e., conservative Republicans appealing to rural Southerners on racial grounds. But in other ways and certainly in comparison to the wildly intemperate Donald Trump, Nixon was almost a liberal moderate.
Six and half years ago I wrote that “if Nixon were to return to earth with the same mind and spirit and perspective that he had before he died in the ’90s but in the body of a go-getter Congressman from Southern California, and he’d probably have a tough time getting re-elected because he’d be considered too moderate, too thoughtful, too practical.”
Nixon was not a small-government guy. In some respects his domestic policies were as liberal as anything that Bill Clinton or Barack Obama embraced during their administrations. Nixon believed in a government-run health care system. He increased funding for the arts. He created the Environmental Protection Agency. He was in favor of a guaranteed basic income.
Stephen Colbert is a Nixon fan. Some years back he said that Nixon’s “issues were education, drugs, women, minorities, youth involvement, ending the draft, and improving the environment. John Kerry couldn’t have run on this! What would I give for a Nixon?”
If by some magical act Trump were to vaporize and Nixon was to take his place, we’d all be a lot better off. I can’t believe I just said that but it’s true. There almost certainly wouldn’t be as much volatility in our relations with North Korea, for one thing.