President Dwight D. Eisenhower: Principles Worth Remembering
As America makes another fateful decision on November 8, 2016, American citizen-voters would be well served to recall the wisdom, principles, and dire warnings of our 34th president, who brought vast experience, competence, credibility, trust, and sound judgment to the position of U.S. commander-in-chief. From our vantage point over a half-century later, Dwight D. Eisenhower's leadership, wisdom, and timeless principles remind us of those qualities we must demand of our chief executive if we are to survive as a strong, vibrant, and free nation into the future.
General Eisenhower's January 1961 Farewell Address ranks as one of the finest speeches ever given by a departing U.S. president for its content and far-reaching message to current and future generations of Americans, made in a similar spirit to the one given in 1796 by one of his lifelong heroes, General George Washington. Every American citizen should view this landmark address to witness what a strong and highly credible, confident, yet humble U.S. president actually looked like.
Even more painfully acute and sorely needed today are the observations General Eisenhower once noted as six "Key Qualities," or gauges of greatness for any leader: vision, integrity, understanding, courage, depth of character, and ability to communicate. With the passage of time, we are reminded that Eisenhower was an American for the ages, a citizen-soldier, who fulfilled each of those key qualities and left us a heritage of honor, integrity, and civility.
From the archives of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, the Eisenhower Foundation recently released the contents of a deeply revealing personal letter, written by our 34th president to his brother Milton Eisenhower and dated 3 December 1964. In his correspondence, General Eisenhower wrote, "Here are some basic convictions in which I have long believed." The president's convictions and wisdom in "developing sensible approaches to the Political Problems of the Day" are indeed now more relevant than ever:
Americans, individually and collectively, should strive constantly for greater excellence in the moral, intellectual and material stature of the nation.
The individual is of supreme importance. The rights guaranteed to him and the states by the Constitution and the 'Bill of Rights' must be jealously guarded by government at all levels. The purpose of government is to serve, never to dominate.
The spirit of the people is the strength of our nation; human liberty and the American system of self-government with equal right for all are the mainspring of that spirit. Courage, in supporting principle, cooperation in practice, are essential characteristics of free people.
To be secure and stay free we must be strong morally, economically and militarily. This combination of strength must be used prudently, carefully and firmly to preserve peace and protect the nation's vital interests abroad.
Political power resides in the people; elected officials are expected to direct that power wisely and only as prescribed by the Constitution.
Government must have a heart as well as a head... solutions must conform to common sense and recognize the right and duty of local and state government normally to attack these at their roots before the Federal Government acts.
America cannot truly prosper unless all major areas and groupments in our society prosper. Labor, capital and management must learn to cooperate as a productive team, and reject any notion of 'class-warfare' bringing about maximum prosperity.
To protect all our citizens, and particularly workers and all those who are, or will be, dependent on pensions, savings and insurance in their declining years, we strive always to prevent deterioration of the currency. In the constant fight against inflation we believe that, except in emergencies, we should pay-as-we-go, avoiding deficit spending and adverse balance-of-payments.
Under God we espouse the cause of freedom and justice and peace for all people.
It should be noted, in stark contrast to our current lawless Marxist-Communist regime, that President Eisenhower quietly and efficiently rid our federal government of Communists who had become embedded there throughout his two administrations spanning 1953-1961. On 4 November, 1953, he wrote his attorney general, the distinguished Herbert Brownell, in a memo since declassified:
I am in full agreement with what he [FBI director J. Edgar Hoover] says about anyone who is now or who has ever been a Communist. The Communists are a class set apart by themselves. Indeed, I think they are such liars and cheats that even when they apparently recant and later testify against someone else for his Communist convictions, my first reaction is to believe that the accused person must be a patriot or he wouldn't have incurred the enmity of such people. So even when these 'reformed' Communists have proved useful in helping us track down some of their old associates, I certainly look for corroborating evidence before I feel too easy in my mind about it[.] ... I also believe that anyone, who after the blockade of Berlin began (or some other equally revealing incident), continued to speak in support of the Soviets or in terms of sympathy for them, is either very stupid or very dangerous.
The president repeated to his attorney general, "[W]e must search out some positive way to put ourselves on the side of individual right and liberty as well as on the side of fighting Communism to the death."
A lifelong student of history with a deep appreciation of our American constitutional government and principles of the founders, General Eisenhower once recalled the spirit of America's founders in remarks at Stratford Hall, Virginia in May 1958 by observing, "I will tell you one thing, because of their accomplishments we know they were thinkers, they were men of vision, they were men of courage, and consequently they would not have shrunk from the duties that are laid upon each one of us, if we are going to make America what they envisioned for America."
In a November 1966 interview, General Eisenhower wisely observed, "I read where members of the so-called intelligentsia, some professors, urge a strong President. They are deluding themselves, their readers, and everyone else, with this idea of an all-powerful Chief Executive. A strong President is one who will be concerned about doing things in a constitutional way, respecting the legislative and the judiciary. Yet some writers are beginning to worship this concept of 'strongman' Government. This has a very serious connotation for America. It means autocracy in the long run."
Quite clearly, the wisdom and warnings of our 34th president should speak powerfully to every American once more voting to rid our nation and its federal, state, and local government entities of a horrific, disastrous Marxist-Communist doctrine, which has become embedded throughout our political landscape, public schools, universities, and pop culture "news" media. We now face a stark choice in the 2016 presidential election between a future of institutionalized Marxist-Communist ideology, with its horrific vision of shared economic and human misery that has grimly failed everywhere it has been tried across the world, and the first steps of a journey to restore respect for our Declaration of Independence, our Bill of Rights, our U.S. Constitution, and the rule of law.
Wake up and listen up, America: we have arrived as a nation at the point of no return if the Marxist-Communist candidates are elected on November 8 across our land at all levels – and most assuredly the office of president of the United States.
America was extremely blessed to have Dwight D. Eisenhower's lifetime of distinguished service. General Eisenhower's principles and legacy represent timeless ideals that current and future generations of Americans would be well served to learn, to honor and remember, and to keep dear in our hearts.
The author currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society and is past president of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution Culpeper Minute Men Chapter and a Life Member of the Virginia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans. He is a sustaining member of the Abbeville Institute and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation.