PBS just ran a special on the history of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. My family visited the park in the early 1990s and it’s one of those places that should be on every American’s Western vacation bucket list.
During the program it was mentioned that during and immediately following World War II our national parks had been neglected due to both the war effort and lack of visitors. The Civilian Conservation Corp who had done so much to improve the parks during the Great Depression had pretty much dissolved as its members were absorbed by the military and factories.
In the mid-1950s president Eisenhower decided something had to be done with these natural assets and began a program known as Mission 66, a ten-year program to restore and upgrade all national parks.
During that same time he got through congress a plan to construct the nation’s interstate highway system. Under Eisenhower, a Republican, the federal government entered an era of major improvements to several aspects of America’s infrastructure, from public parks to public highways. When the Soviets orbited Sputnik government involvement was extended into the fields of education and scientific research. Under Eisenhower and congressional leaders of that time government was seen as the solution to our problems and a power to improve American lives and stimulate the expansion of trade through improved transportation. If you’re one of the countless truck drivers in today’s America you can, in several ways, attribute your job to Eisenhower’s foresight.
But if you’re the next truck driver whose semi plunges into a river due to a bridge collapse, on the way down you may want to wish we had the GOP we had in the 50s rather than the one we have today.
Maintaining and restoring the resources, programs, and infrastructure fostered under Eisenhower’s administration is something today’s Republican controlled congress seems to have zero interest in. Not one single Republican presidential candidate in 2015 is talking about improving education, increasing American research and development, growing our army of scientist and engineers, repairing our bridges, dealing with the gridlock that seems to exist in so many places along the interstate system, improving the electrical grid, sewers, water systems and so much more that yesterday’s GOP considered good governmental policy.
If Ike were alive today he would certainly be a Democrat.