Eisenhower on Moderation in Government


President Dwight D. Eisenhower

From a letter that  President Eisenhower penned to his brother, Edgar Newton Eisenhower, on 8 November 1954:

Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this — in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything — even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

Snopes comments:

Politically, Ike was a classic small-government Republican. He was of the opinion that the federal government had grown too large at the expense of local and state authority since the advent of FDR’s New Deal in the 1930’s, a situation which had been exacerbated by the national emergency that was World War II. Since the Depression and the war were over by the time he took office in 1953, President Eisenhower felt it was time to return to the “middle way” — pruning federal subsidies of industries such as agriculture and power companies, which he believed no longer needed government assistance. At the same time, he wanted to sustain and even increase funding for programs he thought had good track records, and Social Security was paramount among these.

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