Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Euston Manifesto

There are a growing number of signatories to the Euston Manifesto, a document first drafted in Great Britain last year. It calls for a new political alignment of "democrats and progressives" committed to global democracy. While the manifesto’s sponsors and signers are certainly not uncritical Bush supporters, they praise the invasion of Iraq as "a liberation of the Iraqi people" by eliminating Saddam’s "reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous" regime. They reject the notion that we should "indulgently ’understand’ reactionary regimes and movements for whom democracy is a hated enemy," and they further denounce the "anti-Americanism now infecting so much left liberal (and some conservative) thinking." They identify themselves with Franklin Roosevent and Harry Truman, "who battled dictatorships of the
right as well as the left respectively."

Looking through the manifesto immediately brought to mind this 1949 book by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Might we be looking at the development of a new "vital center"?

Discussions - 6 Comments

As a signatory, I certainly hope so.


FDR "battled dictatorships of the left"? Did I miss something? I thought he died in 1945. Surely they’re not referring to the occasional (and plausible) conservative argument that Hitler was really a leftist? No, I don’t think they’re that sophisticated. And while these good folks may be a "center," it certainly isn’t "vital," and won’t be.

I see they used the word "respectively," so I guess they didn’t say that FDR battled dictatorships of the left. Still, to conflate FDR and his communist-riddled administration with Truman on foreign policy is a joke. To be uncritical of (the much better) Truman in this regard is another joke.

Republicans at the time thought Truman had at least as many Communists running around him as FDR did. It is enlightening to go back and look at what Republicans and conservatives at the time thought of Truman’s foreign policy in general. If there is a heaven, and if Truman got there and I get there, I look forward to chatting with Truman about the ironies of history: that he should have become the GOP’s favorite president.

Truman is Republicans’ favorite Democratic president because he compares favorably in terms of personal character with every other Democratic president of the modern (post-1933) era except Carter, and Carter was a foreign-policy leftist.
The reasons why there is any "Republicans’ favorite Democrat"
are 1) that many Republican intellectuals are writers are former Democrats or were brought up or educated by Democrats or former Democrats; and 2) that many Republicans of all kinds feel compelled to be "civil" and "bipartisan."

Your statement that Republicans equated the FDR and Truman administrations in terms of communist penetration (as distinct from internal-security policy, but even there, too) is, I think, inaccurate. In any case, I fail to see how it weakens my point.

The history of the Truman years, which were also more or less the years of "McCarthyism," is badly skewed in favor of Truman and the Cold War liberals. They deserve a lot of credit, but they weren’t always right, and much of what they did may have been due to Republican and right-wing pressure.

Ronald Reagan’s favorite Democrats were Andrew Jackson and FDR. If I remember correctly, RR dusted off an old portrait of Jackson and hung it prominently in the West Wing - I believe in the Cabinet Room.

Democrats, of course, have Lincoln and TR, even Eisenhower, who has been somewhat rehabilitated.

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