For this reason, Taft was not the uncompromising scourge of liberalism that many of his followers imagined. He recognized that parts of the New Deal were legitimate responses to real needs, and he tried to offer social welfare alternatives more in keeping with Republican ideals of small government, sound finance, and local responsibility. He supported government-funded old age pensions, medical care for the indigent, an income floor for the deserving poor, unemployment insurance, and an increased minimum wage. Because he believed that a home was necessary for a decent family life, and because the free market was not supplying low-cost housing, he advocated urban slum clearance and public housing. Because he believed that all children deserved an equal start in life, he reversed his earlier position and called for federal aid to education. Because he did not believe in deficit financing, he was willing to raise taxes to pay for these needed measures.
In all the years I have studied and followed modern political discourse, I have yet to see much out of the GOP as ideals described above. Some have mentioned a few, sure, but only in passing and never above the insurmountable desire for an unfettered market. Taft understood that a free market wouldn’t necessarily provide for the needs of the people in a society and that it was the government’s place to correct these social injustices. This is not compromise between progressive and conservative values; these were once conservative values under the rule of pragmatism above ideology. Today what we have is ideology and political talking points for the sake of politics instead of real solutions.
I can not say, however, that the Democratic Party is free of blame in any of this as well. They do the same thing and kowtow to certain industrial sectors above the needs of the people far too often as well. The distinction, however, is that the GOP has decided it is better to always side with business lobbies and disregard the needs of the people, arguing that government interference in the market will destroy it.
So, I ask: what are the GOP’s true ideals on society?
As a side note: If an economy is so fragile that any public shove can dismantle it entirely and bring permanent destruction to a nation, perhaps the market is not always the answer.