Editors' Note: This piece was co-authored by Ken Klukowski.
"Ever since Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform in 1912, seven presidents — Democrats and Republicans alike — have taken up the cause of reform time and time again," President Obama said in a statement hailing the Christmas Eve Senate vote to take over 1/7 of the nation’s economy. "Such efforts have been blocked by special-interests lobbyists who have perpetrated the status quo that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people."
Note the date of TR’s “calling” for reform. It’s 1912. Nationalized health care was part of the platform of the Progressive Party that year and every year thereafter. Americans are more familiar with the the name Theodore himself gave to that third party bid. After being shot by a would-be assassin in Milwaukee, TR said it takes more than a single bullet to stop a Bull Moose. Instantly, the colorful sobriquet was applied to the Progressive Party.
What did Theodore himself think of his new-found allies, the Progressives? He was sincerely committed to reform. And he certainly thought he had been cheated out of the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1912. After all, he had won all the state party primaries in the limited number of states that held them. But TR also recognized that some of his Progressive supporters went over the top. For them, he coined the wonderful phrase, “the lunatic fringe.”
TR did not want to wage war against wealth, only against the abuse of wealth. He termed the plutocrats of his time “malefactors of great wealth.” In modern terms, TR was for jailing the Bernie Madoffs and freeing the Bill Gateses. TR understood that economic growth was essential to modern industry. He protected our natural resources--more than any previous President--but you could count him among those who stood for conservation. He believed America’s treasury of natural beauty could be conserved for future generations while enabling Americans of his own time to responsibly use and replenish their nation’s bounteous resources.
Today, it would be fair to say the Lunatic Fringe is in charge. The health care bill just passed in the Senate is a hodge-podge of giveaways and bribes. Why should Nebraska not pay Medicare costs imposed by her senior Senator on 49 others states? And why should Nebraska citizens be forced to pay for abortions in New York and California?