Pro & Con: Nixon, Snowe, Lincoln, Dole top 'best of' GOP list

Special to The TribuneMarch 2, 2014 

We asked Democrat Zaf Iqbal to tell us which Republican leaders he most admires and Republican John Peschong to give us a list of his favorite Democrats. There was one caveat: at least one or two had to be among the living.

Click here to read Republican John Peschong's list »

The Republican Party has a proud history. Many Republicans have made outstanding contributions to the country.

Here are four I admire:

President Abraham Lincoln

I have the highest respect for Lincoln for preserving the Union and abolishing slavery.

As commander-in-chief, Lincoln was actively involved in managing the Civil War. Thanks to his decisions and actions, the secessionist states were defeated. Lincoln pressured Congress to pass legislation for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery throughout the country. After the legislation was passed and ratified, it became the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Lincoln changed the landscape of the country through his decisions: The Homestead Act made land in the West available for purchase; federal grants were made to the states for establishing colleges; the Pacific Railroad Act provided support for the first transcontinental railroad and for a nationwide telegraphic system; the National Banking Act created a network of national banks that played a critical role in rapid development of the economy.

President Richard Nixon

Despite the Watergate scandal, I believe Nixon’s numerous foreign and domestic accomplishments make him one of our most successful and influential presidents.

By visiting and normalizing relations with China, he greatly eased international tensions.

During the same year, he visited the USSR. He had successful negotiations with Leonid Brezhnev, resulting in an agreement on increasing trade, the Strate gic Arms Limitation Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The two treaties were a giant step toward arms control and relaxation of Cold War tensions.

In my opinion, Nixon was the first true environmentalist president. He created two bodies with oversight power on environmental matters: the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Natural Resources. He supported the Clean Air Act and signed the National Environmental Policy Act.

In the civil rights area, the Nixon administration accomplished the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South through a novel approach: Engaging black and white leaders to find the best ways to integrate local schools.

In addition, he implemented the first major affirmative action program, and endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment.

By signing Title IX, Nixon ensured equal funding for boys’ and girls’ athletic teams. He ordered the Department of Labor to add anti-sex-discrimination guidelines in federal contracts.

Retired Sen. Robert Dole

I have very high regard for Dole because he embodies compassionate conservatism and bipartisanship.

As a congressman, he supported civil rights bills. As senator, his first speech was to seek federal assistance for the disabled.

Dole worked jointly with late liberal Democratic Sen. George McGovern on several programs. They advocated lowering of eligibility requirements for food stamps and started the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program that provides nutritious meals to school children in developing countries.

In 2007, Dole joined with another Republican senator and two Democratic senators to establish the Bipartisan Policy Center for developing policies to foster bipartisanship.

Retired Sen. Olympia Snowe

I admire Snowe because she is a moderate, and in this era of divisive partisanship, a believer in bipartisanship and compromise.

In April 2006, Time magazine selected her as one of “America’s 10 Best Sena tors.” The Time article stated, “Because of her centrist views and eagerness to go beyond partisan point scoring, Maine Republican Olympia Snowe is in the center of every policy debate in Washington.”

Snowe is a strong proponent of environmental protection and an advocate for stricter gun control laws. Although she did not vote for the Health Care Reform bill, she was responsible for bringing it for a vote in the Senate. Had it not been for her, the bill would never have reached the Senate for a vote.

Zaf Iqbal is past associate dean and professor emeritus of accounting at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. He volunteers with local nonprofits, including Wilshire Hospice and Caring Callers. He is past president of the San Luis Obispo Democratic Club.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Should Richard Nixon be on the list of greatest Republicans? Does Nancy Pelosi rank up there with Harry Truman and John Kennedy? Does Ronald Reagan even belong on a list of Democrats? And why no love for FDR? No matter your political persuasion, we’d like to know who you rank as the nation’s greatest elected leaders. Write us at letters@thetribunenews.com.

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