Jul 6, 2006

The left can have him

Mark Braund makes the case for Nixon being a man of the left.
Consider his record: he was the architect of détente and initiated the first round of talks on strategic arms limitation. Notwithstanding his folly in south-east Asia, it was Nixon who began the process of making the world safe from nuclear weapons. He established the Environmental Protection Agency - the same agency whose efforts are now undermined at every opportunity by the Bush administration, which refuses to allow the fate of the planet to interfere with America's economic prosperity. He introduced Supplemental Security Income, a programme of support for blind, disabled and elderly people funded not from social security payments but from general taxation. The type of programme that is now targeted by those determined to cut government spending on society's most vulnerable.

Nixon also launched the Minority Business Development Agency, which provides support and advice to minority-owned businesses. He was responsible for the Philadelphia Plan, the first government-sanctioned affirmative action programme, which set targets for greater employment of African Americans by the construction industry. Now, few aspiring statesmen would risk advocating such a radical scheme for addressing inequalities across the racial divide. Then there was the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Similar efforts to improve workplace safety today are routinely opposed by employers perceiving yet another bureaucratic challenge to business profitability.
Of course, Braund's point is that we've moved so far to the right (!) today that Nixon's domestic agenda, which was based on a belief "in the possibility of a more just and equal world" by "upset(ting) the super rich"--and imposing such reforms as wage and price controls--is no longer possible.

Thank God.

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