When Democrats Used to be the Daddy Party

In today’s political world, Democrats and Republicans often come with labels preattached. Republicans constitute the “Daddy Party”: they are hawkish on foreign affairs and are perceived as stronger with issues such as national security. Democrats, on the other hand, constitute the “Mommy Party.” In contrast to Republicans, they are peace-niks; the political beltway labels them as stronger on domestic, “Mommy” issues such as the economy. Interestingly enough, men are more likely to vote Republican, women to vote Democratic.

There was a fascinating period in American politics, however, when this was not the case. During the time of President Dwight Eisenhower, certain Republicans delighted in calling Democrats war-mongers. These Republicans, to be accurate, did not represent the whole party’s attitude – Republicans still had their Richard Nixons and Joe McCarthys.

Nevertheless, a group of Republicans did argue that Democrats were the party of war. In contrast, they painted themselves as the party of peace and prosperity. Behind this seemingly implausible claim was compelling evidence. Every previous Democratic president, they noted, had gotten the country involved in a war. President Woodrow Wilson had rushed into World War I; President Franklin Roosevelt had fought World War II; and President Truman had taken on the Korean War (which Mr. Eisenhower had promised to end).

Today the label of war-monger has long been shed by the Democratic Party; it is more popular to accuse them as weak on national defense. Yet for the Mommy Party, Democrats have involved the United States in a whole lot of Daddy Wars (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and now Afghanistan). For all that Republicans like to talk tough, it’s the Democrats you have to watch.

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