In my day job, I'm the director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of Rockefeller's birth. To commemorate the occasion, The New York Times published an op-ed by noted historian Richard Norton Smith, who spoke at our Centennial events back in April. Smith's conclusion is one with which I wholeheartedly agree:
Three decades later, “Rockefeller Republican” is widely seen as a contradiction in terms. Largely forgotten is the original meaning of the phrase, a counterintuitive coupling of late ’50s fiscal responsibility and early ’60s social justice — the same formula espoused by a majority of today’s electorate, for whom solving problems and forging consensus takes precedence over ideological purity.
For better and for worse, Nelson Rockefeller was ahead of his time. So it’s back to the future: we don’t admit it, but we’re (mostly) Rockefeller Republicans now.