November 24

Blog #105 – Was Nixon a liberal, conservative, or moderate?

Using the 1970s’ definitions of liberal and conservative, I’d like you to figure out whether President Richard Nixon was a liberal, conservative, or some combination of both – a moderate.

At that point in the 1970s, a liberal is someone who believes in positive governmental action to solve societal problems and to ensure equality for all. Liberals also see the government as the guarantor of civil liberties and human rights.  Generally, liberals believe that government can solve society’s problems because sometimes they are too big to be solved by individuals, charities (non-governmental organizations), or private businesses.  Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe in limited governmental actions and spending, traditional American values, a strong defense, and a belief that capitalist free markets can solve economic inequality.  Conservatives want to empower the individual to solve his / her own problems and not rely on the government for help.  There is also a major divide about how much of the past / present should be preserved in order to benefit the future.  Liberals are willing to try new ideas or approaches to adjust to the changing times, while conservatives want to preserve working structures / traditions and carry them forward into the future.  Also, liberals tend to come from historically marginalized groups (think women, African American, etc.) while conservatives tend to come from the dominant groups in American society (white and male).

To make the case that Nixon is a liberal:

Nixon raised the minimum wage by 40% in 1974.  He also proposed a couple programs that never came to be but seem amazingly liberal – a guaranteed minimum annual wage for families (Family Assistance Program), and an expansion of Medicare / Medicaid so that everyone would be covered by a government health care program, in which all employers would have had to provide health care for their employees or make up the difference for those employees who couldn’t afford it.  “Herbert Stein, Nixon’s chief economic adviser, who once wrote, ‘Probably more new regulation was imposed on the economy during the Nixon Administration than in any other presidency since the New Deal.'”  In 1971, Nixon imposed price and wage controls in order to curb inflation, and also took America off the Gold standard.  These price and wage controls, like Stein said above, was the most overt control of the American economy since FDR’s New Deal during the Great Depression.  Nixon also signed the Clean Air Act and created the agencies, Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Nixon also expanded the food stamps program from $610 million in 1970 to $2.5 billion in 1973.  Image result for EPA

This quote is taken from the National Review (a traditionally conservative magazine) in 2013: “In a 1983 interview, [Nixon] told historian Joan Hoff that his many liberal initiatives as president (from the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency to his calls for universal health insurance) reflected his own background and association with the “progressive” wing of the Republican party.  In private, Nixon was scathing about conservatives ranging from Ronald Reagan (he considered him a showy “know-nothing”) to William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of National Review.”  Nixon told this to an aide: “The trouble with far-right conservatives like Buckley,” Nixon told Whitaker, “is that they really don’t give a damn about people and the voters sense that. Yet any Republican presidential candidate can’t stray too far from the right-wingers because they can dominate a primary and are even more important in close general elections. Remember, John,” Nixon lectured, “the far-right kooks are just like the nuts on the left, they’re door-bell ringers and balloon blowers, but they turn out to vote. There is only one thing as bad as a far-left liberal and that’s a damn right-wing conservative.”

Foreign policy-wise, Nixon was not like Reagan’s 1st term.   Reagan hated detente because he thought that the agreements like SALT I and II were immoral.  Nixon normalized relations with China and kicked Taiwan to the curb, even supporting their dismissal from the United Nations.  Nixon also left our ally, South Vietnam, in the lurch after signing a dubious treaty to get us out of the war.  Yes, we did make South Vietnam’s army the #4 biggest army in the world after we withdrew, but it wasn’t enough to stop the North Vietnamese from invading and seizing the country in 1975.

Nixon also famously said this in the groundbreaking Frost / Nixon interviews:

Frost: “Are you really saying the president can do something illegal?”


Image result for frost nixon interviewsNixon: “I’m saying that when the president does it, it’s not illegal!”

This sweeping interpretation of presidential powers is nowhere written in the Constitution, unless you widely interpret the President’s war powers.

To make the case that Nixon was a conservative: 

Nixon originally campaigned in 1968 during the chaos of that year as a “law and order” candidate, as someone who championed the “silent majority” who supported American values but didn’t protest the Vietnam War or burn bras or participate in marches / riots.  This technique tended to be something that conservatives would do – promote strong crime strategies like capital punishment, more prisons, and stricter penalties and prison terms (think of the the Willie Horton ad from 1988 Bush vs. Dukakis).  Nixon swayed white Southern Democratic voters away from the Democratic Party with his “Southern Strategy” in which he sought a fine line between integration and segregation.  To many younger voters and war protestors, he appeared to be an authoritarian figure who escalated the Vietnam War by invading Cambodia in 1970 and Laos in 1971.  Under his watch, the FBI also launched COINTELPRO, a systematic wiretapping and disinformation campaign that targeted anti-war and Civil Rights groups from 1965-1971.  Another one of Nixon’s programs, New Federalism, sought to push some programs out of the federal realm and into the states’ responsibilities.  He felt that it was more important for states to have control over some federal programs and be able to oversee how the money was spent – the idea being that the states know better what they need and should spend it how they want to rather than the distant federal government.

Also, Nixon nominated 4 Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice Warren Burger (1969), future Chief Justice William Rehnquist (1971), Harry Blackmun (1970), and Lewis Powell (1971).  Nixon’s conservative influence would be felt for decades.  Chief Justice Burger was critical of the previous Court’s expansion of rights for criminals in cases like Gideon v. Wainwright and Miranda v. Arizona.  Despite many conservative rulings, the Burger Court also included such liberal decisions like Roe v. Wade (allowing 1st term abortions to be legal), Swann v. Charlotte- Mecklenburg Board of Ed. (supporting busing to integrate schools), Furman v. Georgia (postponing all death penalty cases for four years), and U.S. v. Nixon (forcing the president to turn over his recordings in the Oval Office).

Why did Nixon do all of this?  Some historians have argued that he was poll driven, and because America had gone through a very liberal phase in the 196s0s (Great Society, Civil Rights legislation), he was responding to America’s demands for environmental laws, work place improvements, and the energy crisis / inflation.   Other historians have argued that Nixon was an opportunist who wanted to focus on his foreign policy in Vietnam, the Soviets, and China.  That Nixon was cynical enough to let the domestic agenda items pass in order to become the great foreign policy president that he strove to be.

Here’s the video of Nixon on Trial that we saw together in class.

So, in your own words,

  1. Tell me whether you think Nixon was a liberal, conservative, or moderate.  Back this assertion up with your own thoughts (and feel free to do some additional research and site it in your comment);
  2. Explain how this complexity makes Nixon seem more of a real person as opposed to a stereotype or two-dimensional figure.

400 words minimum total for both answers.   Due Wednesday, Nov. 29 by class. 

Sites consulted:


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Posted November 24, 2017 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

64 thoughts on “Blog #105 – Was Nixon a liberal, conservative, or moderate?

  1. Annie Chernow

    1) From reading from both sides and doing research of my own, I do believe Nixon was a moderate. Throughout Nixon’s presidency, he both expressed conservative and liberal thoughts and ideas for our country. Nixon expressed and showed conservatism in his presidency when he used the southern strategy to sway most of the southerners away from the democratic party. Nixon’s goal with the southern strategy was to create a fine line between integration and segregation quoted from the blog. Another example I got from the blog which showed more of his “conservative side” was when he developed the program called “New Federalism”it was meant to almost transfer some of the powers the federal government had to the states. Nixon thought it would be good for the state governments to see how the money was being spent in their specific state. Not only did Nixon have a “conservative side” he also was partially liberal. Once Nixon got more into his presidency, more programs and acts were created to make him seem very liberal at times. While he was in office, Nixon raised the minimum wage by 40% which was pretty big and benefited many workers at the time. He also expanded the food stamp program by one billion eight hundred ninety million dollars in only three years. He did this for the people of America so they could all live a life to the fullest extent even with some obstacles they may have faced or were facing at the time. Although Nixon was a republican, it doesn’t just mean he was only a conservative, he favored, had thought’s and ideas about both liberalism and conservatism to make him value both equally.

    2) This complexity makes Nixon seem like a real person. Not some stereotype or flat figure. With having thoughts about both, Liberalism and Conservatism which makes him moderate almost makes Nixon seem more real and like an actual person. Not everyone you see can have the thought and intelligence to agree and play for both sides. Nixon showed that we don’t always have to do and go by what one side says, if we believe that the other side has something we believe is right, were ought to agree with it as well, there is no harm to it. A trait that Nixon had was to be able to agree, confer, and express his feelings about both sides without feeling he’s restricted or held back by something or someone, he was a middle man and didn’t side with one or the other making him neutral and real. With Nixon not fitting a stereotype and being “real” he also had some goof-up’s in his presidency. With the watergate scandal, you saw that he tried to cover it up which obviously did not work well for him at all. It just shows that he is a human just like everyone else and we all mess up at times (even though he’s stupid for trying to cover this up in a bad and crappy way).

  2. Sam Grasl

    Blog #105 – Was Nixon a Liberal, Conservative, or a Moderate?

    1. Tell me whether you think Nixon was a liberal, conservative, or moderate. Back this assertion up with your own thoughts

    After reading Blog #105, i have come to the conclusion that our 37th President, Richard Milhous Nixon, was a Moderate; for he was what i believe a Liberal but, he was more than willing to be a Conservative if it meant he would stay or get into office. An example of this is when President Nixon chaperoned the “silent majority” who supported American values but didn’t protest the Vietnam War or burn bras or participate in any marches and/or riots. This technique tended to be something that conservatives would do; so this shows that Nixon was technically a Liberal, but he ran for President as a Republican who tend to be conservatives, but he thought as a Conservative when it came to strategy. Another example of Nixon being a partial Conservative, is when Nixon used his “Southern Strategy”. The ‘Southern Strategy” was the idea and action of gaining southern political support by appealing to racial tension. He purposely increased the racial tensions to a point in which he had an absolute guarantee, that he had the full support of the south. President Nixon did a lot of Liberal things in his career too; such as, when he passed/signed the Clean Air Act back in 1970; or when he proposed the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan, which now happens to look awfully similar to Obamacare. The Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan included a mandate, that all employers must provide coverage to all full-time employees; which would of created a new federal program called Assisted Health Insurance to provide coverage for everyone who is not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or an employer plan. And it would have included a panel of physicians that would control medical costs by “reducing needless hospitalization.” This was a very Liberal act, because Liberals believe in government involvement, while Conservatives believe in small amounts of government involvement. When President Nixon first got into office, he nominated four Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice Warren Burger (1969), future Chief Justice William Rehnquist (1971), Harry Blackmun (1970), and Lewis Powell (1971). “Nixon’s conservative influence would be felt for decades. Chief Justice Burger was critical of the previous Court’s expansion of rights for criminals in cases like Gideon v. Wainwright and Miranda v. Arizona. Despite many conservative rulings, the Burger Court also included such liberal decisions like Roe v. Wade (allowing 1st term abortions to be legal), Swann v. Charlotte- Mecklenburg Board of Ed. (supporting busing to integrate schools), Furman v. Georgia (postponing all death penalty cases for four years), and U.S. v. Nixon (forcing the president to turn over his recordings in the Oval Office).” In conclusion, Nixon was a Moderate for he acted has a Liberal, thought as a Conservative, and looked as one as well.


    2. Explain how this complexity makes Nixon seem more of a real person as opposed to a stereotype or two-dimensional figure.

    The complexity of President Richard Milhous Nixon makes/made him seem more of a real person as opposed to a stereotype or a two dimensional figure because, it’s what made him a interesting, and believable to be human. His complexity, it gave him imperfections, it gave him a type uniqueness that we didn’t ever expect Nixon to have. It was as if his way of rule in office would change almost day to day, for some days, all you would see was pure 100% Liberalism; while on others, we saw this boring conservative in the Oval Office. This really made him stand out not just as a person but as a President, because it showed that he followed his own beliefs and almost always had the people in mind; for he never followed one side of the government, being Democratic and Republican. Based on what we/I learned about President Nixon, I noticed prior to Watergate, that Nixon was always looking for the approval of the American People, through any means necessary, even if it meant bending or breaking a few laws. In fact, at an interview, President Nixon said quote “I’m saying that when the President does it, it’s not illegal.” The first time people really swa/got to know Nixon, was during the Presidential election in 1960, in which they said he was pale, dull, scary, and boring. So, when Nixon finally got his shot at being President in 1969, because we finally got to see the somewhat human side of him.

  3. charlie hardy

    In my opinion, Nixon was a moderate. The fact that such an extensive argument backed up with loads of evidence can be made on Nixon being a liberal and on Nixon being a conservative proves the point that he is a mix between the two, or a moderate. In the beginning, Nixon started out with ideals that catered more to conservative norms, such as supporting the Vietnam war or the instatement of New Federalism policies. By transferring certain powers of the United States government back to the states (the philosophy of New Federalism), Nixon follows the normal ideals of conservatism of the 1970s that follow beliefs of limited governmental control, hence giving power back to the states. He also ordered the invasion and secret bombings of Cambodia and Laos, and he also supported the silent majority, or, for example, the people who were against the Vietnam war, but did not involve themselves in protesting or marching against it. By supporting the silent majority, he supported traditional American values. In these ways, an argument can be made that Nixon was a conservative by the 1970s definition. But, arguments can also be made that Nixon was a liberal by the 1970s definition as well. Nixon opened diplomatic relations with China, and he also supported the Equal Rights Amendment and proposed many different ideas that were liberal. Such ideas include the Family Assistance Program, which wanted to introduce a guaranteed annual minimum wage for families. Over the course of three years, Nixon also introduced and instated an expanded food stamps program. President Nixon supported environmental policies, and signed the Clean Air Act and created the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. By proposing such programs and instating such programs, Nixon exhibited liberal properties because he created governmental programs to solve society’s issues that he felt were too big for smaller, non governmental organizations or private businesses to solve. By this, Nixon can be considered more liberal or more conservative by 1970s definitions, but during his presidency, he often flip flopped from liberal ideas and ideals or conservative ideas and ideals. By this, Nixon is best considered a moderate.

    This complexity makes Nixon seem like more of a real person as opposed to a stereotype or a two dimensional figure because he often changed his mind like anyone else. In his mind, he was a president who stood for what he thought was right, no matter what political ideal those ideas often fell into. He didn’t try to constantly appeal to a certain party, but rather had the American people in mind.

  4. Maya Wolock

    In a general sense, Nixon was a moderate. However, this breaks down into many pieces. He campaigned on state’s rights and the “Silent Majority”. The Silent Majority was code for those who were appalled by the riots and chaos sweeping the nation during the sixties. Many of these people were somewhat against the Civil Rights Movement. Therefore, during his campaign, he leaned towards the right. Once in office, he showed more progressive tendencies. He passed many environmental laws. He also attempted to pass progressive healthcare. In 1974, he raised wages by 40%. Oftentimes, conservatives don’t like the minimum wage as it could possibly be viewed as too much government interference in the day-to-day lives of the American people. When looking at this evidence, one might think that he was rather liberal. However, Nixon also did some things that would be considered more conservative. While in office, he also dictated more power to states. He also invaded Cambodia and Laos, angering the mostly left anti-war movement. It is clear that during his campaign and during his time as president, his actions fell on both ends of the political spectrum. I do not believe that Nixon was strictly a liberal or strictly a conservative. Was Nixon a moderate then? It all depends on how one defines moderate. Is a moderate someone whose actions represent both political extremes; or is a moderate someone who doesn’t fully represent conservatives or liberals?
    This complexity of Nixon makes him seem like a real person instead of a political robot. Many politicians are completely terrified of betraying their party. Even if they do not personally agree with every nuance of their party’s view, the stereotypical politician will represent their party without faltering. Nixon was an exception. Now, was this a good thing? I can not answer that. Nixon once said in an interview, “The trouble with far-right conservatives like Buckley, is that they really don’t give a damn about people and the voters sense that. Yet any Republican presidential candidate can’t stray too far from the right-wingers because they can dominate a primary and are even more important in close general elections. Remember, John, the far-right kooks are just like the nuts on the left, they’re door-bell ringers and balloon blowers, but they turn out to vote. There is only one thing as bad as a far-left liberal and that’s a damn right-wing conservative.” This truly shows how honest he was. He ran as a republican, and there he was, chastising his own party I cannot stress enough how rare it is for a politician to speak his mind like this. Nixon tended to do what he wanted, even if the majority did not agree with him. This became his fatal flaw. In the Watergate scandal, he covered up the break-in, even though he knew this was wrong. Most politicians would have the sense to distance themselves from a scandal. Nixon chose to participate in a cover-up. Clearly, his complex personality made him stand apart from the cookie-cutter politician.

  5. Brody HIipakka

    1. I believe President Nixon was a moderate. Some of his actions were more “liberal” and other of his actions could be seen as more “conservative.” Nixon won the Republican Party in the 1968 election. Many of Nixon’s actions could be seen as liberal such as when he raised the minimum wage by 40% in 1974, he created a guaranteed minimum annual wage for families, and when he made an expansion of Medicare. Other of Nixon’s actions could be seen as conservative. Nixon campaigned for the 1968 election as a “law and order” candidate. He also campaigned the “silent majority.” Meaning although he supported American values, he would not support the protest against the Vietnam war. In the 1970s, when he was trying to get re-elected, he switched his views and beliefs to a more conservative way, when more Americans became conservative. These new beliefs showed that President Nixon was “poll-driven,” which meant he was willing to change his own beliefs and policies to attract more voters. Nixon lied to impress citizens to get more votes, to get elected. But then in 1971, Nixon created price and wage controls in order to curb inflation. Nixon signed the Clean Air Act which is an act to control air pollution on a national level. Nixon had created the agencies, Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Nixon expanded the food stamps program from $610 million in 1970 to $2.5 billion in 1973, which are all liberal actions. During the same period of time his actions were both Liberal and conservative, I couldn’t decide a specific one, so the classification of moderate met the criteria for his political beliefs.
    2. This complexity makes Nixon seem more of a real person as opposed to a stereotype or two-dimensional figure because you can’t always categorize someone as strictly liberal or strictly conservative because they have to have some beliefs that could fall into the other category. This shows us that Nixon is more of a real person than we believe because he doesn’t follow the liberal, or conservative lifestyle and he has his own opinions about each topics. We also saw Nixon as more of a real person during and after the Watergate Scandal emerged. We saw that he has some of the same qualities and flaws as us, the regular citizens. Nixon made many mistakes throughout his presidency, that showed that even or biggest role model or the person we look up the most can make mistakes.

  6. Samantha Smith

    1. Personally, I thought that President Richard Nixon was a liberal. My main reason for think that is becasue he seemed to do things that strongly suggested a leftist mindset. The Watergate scandal is the best example I could use to support my point. As is evident in the name, conservatives are known to be conservative, as in withdrawn and independent. A president who was conservative and independent would never go to the length of BREAKING INTO THE OPPOSITE PARTY’s building from sheer paranoia. That’s a /whiny liberal thing to do. People seem to forget that just because someone acts bad, it’s more likely that they are authoritarian
    Also, to add to the list, Nixon promoted a ton of tolerant, left-winged acts such as: The Environmental Protection Agency, the. National Environmental Policy Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection. Seems pretty liberal to me!
    2. What makes this situation apparent that there was a man behind that suit like anyone else is is the fact that he decided to resign when he got too much pushback from the public and press after the Watergate scandal. He knew fhat he had gone too far, but he was still to proud to admit that he had any part in anything. Which just shows that he’s human.

  7. Jacob Ellenbogen

    I believe that Nixon was definitely a moderate, and I think this is perfectly shown by one of his quotes from the blog. In the blog towards the end of the section about his liberal actions, Nixon is quoted saying that far-right conservatives like Reagan and William Buckley Jr. are crazy and are just trying to turn out a vote, and they’re almost as bad as the far-left liberals. This paraphrased quote shows how Nixon doesn’t see himself identifying with the extremes of either party, but rather some sort of middle ground. This middle ground theme also runs through his legislation. Even though he was in the party of conservatives, he provided many liberal expansions to government. His 40% increase of the minimum wage shows his willingness to give the worker more benefits and the company less, rather than hoping that with the money more jobs will be provided by the company. This idea is not one you will ever hear from a conservative today, showing Nixon’s moderate ideology. Another example would be Nixon’s proposed expansions of Medicare and Medicaid to try to put all workers on health care. While the proposal didn’t pass at the time, it is very similar to the liberal health care plan Obamacare that passed during the Obama presidency. Finally, there are Nixon’s environmental acts, such as the creation of the EPA and the clean air act. Both of these acts would be criticized for being job-killing by modern day conservatives, showing Nixon as someone who reached across the aisle with his policy. Of course, Nixon also showed his conservative side. Much of his campaign strategy was to appeal to the “silent majority”, the people not protesting Vietnam or civil rights. Many of these people laid in the south, leading to Nixon’s “Southern strategy”. Nixon also pushed to end some federal programs, something that is a much more conservative action than some of his others. Finally, there is Nixon’s supreme court, also known as the Burger Court, to which Nixon named four conservative justices who would shape the country for centuries. Nixon’s accomplishments from both sides of the ideological aisle show his true political views as a moderate.
    Nixon’s distinction in my mind as a moderate definitely makes him seem like less of a stereotype. While this isn’t usually the case with presidents, many Senators and congressman in Washington don’t often do anything bold, they often just vote along party lines. For me however, I find it hard to believe that all these politicians are aligned in belief with every single republican or democratic ideal. Nixon, by accomplishing legislation for both sides of the aisle, sort of breaks the mold of a politician just trying to help their party. I think this complexity really shows Nixon as more than a two-dimensional figure, but a person just like you or me.

  8. Graham Hupp

    Graham Hupp
    Was Nixon A Liberal, Conservative, or Moderate?

    Throughout Nixon’s presidency, it can be assumed that even with the beginning lean to become a conservative president representing the silent majority, he later became a liberal towards the end of his presidency. With ways such as raising the minimum wage by 40% and creating the Environmental Protection Agency, the liberal acts weigh out the conservative acts such as electing four new supreme court judges. Even with the 40% increase, he was trying to obtain the popular vote from the Americans and just trying to be liked throughout the country. Even with all of these liberal actions the action that outweighs them all, is the watergate scandal. This scandal destroyed Nixon’s name and deteriorated his presidency so quickly he had to resign and has become the only president to resign from the presidency he had recently won.
    This complexity makes Nixon a “real person” or more human opposed to the “2 dimensional figures” for a few reasons. It is argued that Nixon was very poll driven throughout his candidacy and presidency. Pointing to the facts the he was willing to impress the American people with what was new, and fresh during the modern times that they were in. These new in fresh ideas, were liberalism, but it was also during the height of republicanism so Nixon most likely had to play devil’s advocate, playing for both sides during his election and presidency. Another reason how Nixon backed up the Liberal idealists was the support through the Environment and creating the EPA which in turn, has helped the environment immensely, even today. Another way that he had backed up the conservatives, was his southern strategy, to grasp ahold the southern voters and claim their votes with strategies such as “fighting the line between segregation and integration”. Throughout Nixon’s presidency, he could be described as a real person who just wanted to be liked. He always wanted the popular vote and would shift into the popular thing or area that the popular vote would have. Even with this popular vote and almost guaranteed a win against his candidate during his second term run, he decided to send the “plumbers” to find leaks within the Democratic Party and use these to strike back and find a definite win for himself. Obviously, this did not work as his plumbers were caught and traced back to him ultimately causing him to resign from his presidency.

  9. Dylan Cohen

    Nixon was, in the end, a moderate right. I think that he considered himself morally conservative and it did show in some of his policies but other times it seemed like he was acting out of character, following a liberal agenda. Nixon didn’t consider himself an extremist and told John C. Whitaker, a campaign aide, how much he hated the extremists on both sides but said that they turned out to vote. Nixon appealed to both sides to keep down backlash and keep up in polls. While he was a conservative, he expanded New Deal programs like national health care and food stamps. He even proposed some progressive programs that could be seen overly liberal today. Also, he strayed away from a staple in conservatism, the free market, by setting price and wage controls and he took the U.S. off of the gold standard. Still, he didn’t forget about the conservatives. During his term he appointed four conservative supreme court justices, pandered to the “Silent Majority” during his campaigns, and established New Federalism. New Federalism gave states federal programs and let them manage more of their money. In Vietnam, Nixon differed from his eventual successor, Ronald Reagan, in supporting détante, distancing him further from conservative ideals. A lot of what Nixon did, I beleive, was for what he thought was best for the country. Even if he was responding to America’s liberal demands, it’s hard to disagree with the clean air act and title IX. Although Nixon may have created many liberal policies, he aligned morally with the Silent Majority and had strong christian, family values, and believed that federal government should stay out of the way of business and state government.

    Nixon holds a legacy of being a crooked politician as a result of the ever important Watergate Scandal. Due to this, people are reluctant to go beyond it and look at anything else he did during political career. While, Watergate may have been the most important thing to happen during his presidency resulting in a significant shift in the way we view politicians and government. Despite this “dent” in his career he achieved many things for both sides of the political spectrum. The fact that he didn’t always side with one end and chose to make decisions based on his own opinions and not that of the party made him seem more human and less of a tool of the Republicans.

  10. Kyla Hurns

    “Blog #105 – Was Nixon a liberal, conservative, or moderate?”
    I think that Richard Nixon was a moderate. Nixon made a lot of important decisions during his years in office and some of those decisions could be considered liberal and others could be considered conservative. Richard Nixon is not someone who could be put in a box or label, many of the decisions he made as president were completely focused on what was the best for the American people and how it would improve the country. Some of the more important actions that he took as president that would be considered liberal were the environmental reforms and his goal for nationwide healthcare. He proposed to expand the health care programs in hopes that eventually by expanding these programs all Americans would be covered by either Medicare or Medicaid. Nixon also instituted the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and he created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It showed the government stepping in and creating regulations for a better America. Richard Nixon thought that it was very important to get the states more involved than the federal government, which is why he created the program New Federalism. New Federalism was a program that supported strong, traditional family values. It was focused on the pushing federally controlled programs into the control of the state. All of these actions that Nixon took are considered conservative because it decreased the amount of interference the federal government had in some affairs and focused on traditional American values. Nixon was not a president who could be defined as one political label. He truly didn’t care for those he felt that his job was to do what he thought was best for the American people and that’s what he did. President Nixon didn’t care as long as he was doing his job as president and improving the lives of Americans nationwide.
    This complexity of President Richard Nixon’s character makes him seem more of a real person in America’s history because whether his programs were liberal, conservative, or moderate, they were all done with the American people in mind. While there were a lot of bad decisions made during his presidency many people believe that he still did a lot for the American people.His involvement in the Watergate Scandal was terribly damaged the trust many Americans had in our government. This one mistake led to a lot of suspicion towards the government and questions about whether or not what they were doing was truly right. This one event led to the reveal of other corruptions in the government and instances where power was abused. Today we still see that a lot of Americans have little trust in the government. Nixon’s decisions before the Watergate scandal were progressive and greatly improved the lives of many Americans. American people liked him enough to elect him twice as President of the United States. His actions in the scandal define his presidency for many people, and an event such as that will often have results that still effect us today. But, when looking at Nixon and the things he did for the American people, he is someone who was dedicated to his job as president of the United States.

  11. James Laport

    There is a lot of evidence on both sides of the argument over whether Nixon was conservative or liberal, but by the 1970’s definition of “liberal” and “conservative,” President Richard Nixon could be considered a moderate. Throughout his campaigns, his actions often differed and were clearly a mix between a more conservative and a more liberal stance. Some may think he was more a liberal, some may think he was more conserved, but by looking through his actions throughout his presidency, it is obvious to see that he was both of them-a perfect definition of a moderate. For example, when he was demonstrating more conservative views, he elected four right wing state justices that heavily influenced America for decades after, increasing the harshness of jail time and increasing the number of prisons, and introducing a new conservative program, New Federalism, something that emphasized on states rights in America. He also showed southern conservatives that he could help them out too by appealing to the “silent majority,” a group of conservatives who didn’t support the Vietnam War. “Liberalism” in the 1970’s was defined as the belief that the government can help to change people’s lives for the better through projects. Some of these projects include introducing and passing numerous environmental acts, increasing the minimum wage by 40%, and expanding medicare and medicaid. It is clear to see that Nixon had a clean mix between conservative and liberal views, often trying his best to satisfy both groups of people.

    Nixon won the elections of 1968 and 1972 under the Republican party, which is generally associated with conservatism. But, Nixon broke away from this stereotype by incorporating both liberal and conservative views into his campaign. In fact, he used it to his advantage by appealing to both southern conservatives and northern liberals. Nixon’s ability to step out of the mold and help everyone, unlike presidents before and presidents to come, gave him an edge on his opponents in his elections and arguably won him two terms in office, until the Watergate scandal, of course. This ability to break away from common stereotypes and to be someone that both parties could relate to and generally like as a core value that is often admired, and overall necessary especially for the president of the united states. Nixon can overall be considered a great president because of his ability to break down the walls of partisan stereotypes and helping everyone, not just in one party.

  12. geoffwickersham (Post author)

    In my personal opinion I think that Richard Nixon was a moderate president. I say this because Nixon had many liberal policies but he also had many conservative policies. Richard Nixon was probably the last truly “Maverick” President that we have had. I don’t think that we have had any maverick presidents except for him and I say this because I believe that while have moderate presidents like Bill Clinton we haven’t had a president that truly occupied the center of the political spectrum. I truly believe sincerely or not based on his actions Richard Nixon was a straight down the middle moderate centrist politician. Richard Nixon was conservative on foreign policy in my opinion and he was most definitely conservative on Social Policy issues. I say this because Nixon advocated for “law and order” along with more capital punishment for more crimes. Nixon also tried and successfully appeal to white southern democrats by trying to slow down the process of civil rights and integration. For those reasons I think that Nixon is a moderate but also an opportunist who followed the polls and didn’t really that many sincere convictions on the policy issues. That makes Nixon a moderate by default because liberals and conservatives are pretty principled politicians. Nixon was also very pragmatic so that also made him a moderate politician. When Nixon started the EPA he knew that he had to do something like this because Nixon was driven by popularity and he wanted to be popular so he did things that made him popular.

    2. This shows Richard Nixon to be a complex person because he thought about a lot of things and he was a very complex thinker. It shows that Nixon had something else other being a robot or something unhuman. It showed that Nixon was a true and real human being. It showed that he was smart because he that he had to get democrats on his side if he was going to achieve the goals that he wanted for foreign policy issues so I believe that he gave concessions to the dems to make sure he had enough political capital to be able to do what he wanted to. But what the video really did was show that he was more than the watergate scandal which is what most people know him and his presidency for.

    Devin R.

  13. Emily Parker

    I personally believe that Nixon was a moderate president. Many people think he was just a liberal and many people think he was just a conservative, but I believe that his actions throughout his presidency veered both to the conservative side and the liberal side. In the beginning, Nixon supported ideals that were tailored for the conservative side. For example, he supported the Vietnam war. During his campaign in the 1968 elections, he said that he had a plan to end the war (that plan took him five years to disengage the US from Vietnam). Another example is his New Federalism policies. This was a plan in 1969 to turn over some federal government programs to the states was a conservative ideal in the 1970’s. He also supported the silent majority. For example, people who did not agree with the Vietnam war, but did not speak out about their beliefs. By supporting these people, he supported traditional American values. One other reason he could have been a conservative was that he ordered the secret bombings of Cambodia and Laos. All of these reasons could lead people to believe that he was conservative, but other arguments can be made that he was Liberal. For example, he supported the equal rights amendment, he also raised the minimum wage by 40%. He and many other Liberal ideas as well. Ideas such as the family assistance program. This program introduced a guaranteed annual minimum wage. Nixon also proposed a “better” Medicare. This ensured that everyone would be covered by a governmental health care system. Employers had to provide healthcare for all of their employees. None of these ideas happened but they were all Liberal. All of these arguments could either make him Conservative or Liberal, by 1970’s definitions. This is why I think he is a moderate president.

    This makes Nixon seem like more of a real person because he seemingly took a stand on issues based on their own merit… not because they were conservative or Liberal. Typical politicians often seem robotic in the sense of following their party line. They would consistently take a stand on issues based on their party beliefs, without giving themselves permission to consider their own personal beliefs if they deviate from their party. Nixon on the other hand, made decisions based on what he thought was right, not because of what his party was supposed to believe (which was conservative).

  14. Joey Llope

    After a lack of evidence to support leaning to one side of the ideological spectrum or another, my conjecture about President Nixon is that he was more of a moderate. As a president he did some liberal things and some conservative things so if was a liberal or a conservative he would be the most inconsistent liberal or conservative President in the history of liberal or conservative Presidents (there may have been some irrelevant, lesser known President that was more inconsistent than Nixon but whoever he is I don’t care about him). Some might say was a conservative because he served both of his terms as a member of the republican party, which is more conservative than the democratic party, but in Nixon’s time the word “Republican” was not necessarily synonymous for conservative. One of his more conservative actions as president include promoting capital punishment, more prisons, and more severe punishment for crimes. Many liberals at the time protested the Vietnam war and demanded peace, but Nixon escalated the war and invaded Cambodia and Laos. He also introduced New Federalism which was in support of state’s rights and made the government less centralized. Nixon also made a lot of liberal decisions in office like raising minimum wage by 40%, expanding medicare and medicaid, signing the clean air act, and expanded the food stamps program. Nixon also said “the far-right kooks are just like the nuts on the left, they’re door-bell ringers and balloon blowers, but they turn out to vote. There is only one thing as bad as a far-left liberal and that’s a damn right-wing conservative.”. His main point is that liberals and conservatives are equally repulsive, especially those damn doorbell ringing balloon blowers, which is evidence he is a moderate.

    I think this make Nixon seem more human and more relatable to the American public because many if not most Americans are also moderate. A lot Americans Identify as Fiscally conservative and socially liberal and very few Americans are consistently right or left on every issue related to American politics. For example, many people I know are pro life but anti gun or they like Trump’s tax plan but not his immigration plan. I can clearly think of someone similar to his views, and that person is John Kasich, the governor of Ohio who ran for president in 2016 and was the third-to-last candidate to drop out of the runnings for the GOP.

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