Evangelical, Republican, Progressive

Mark Hatfield, a progressive Republican senator from Oregon

This guy reminds me of Senator Mark Hatfield, a progressive Republican in the vein of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, not Sarah Palin and Rick Perry. “My faith,” writes Frank Fredericks in the Huffington Post, “informs my worldview, and that includes a belief that everyone should have a fair chance at success, that we should build more bridges than bombs, and that no interest should be a special interest. . . . Theodore Roosevelt was the first presidential candidate to run on progressive platform, with the Square Deal including consumer protections, challenging corporate monopolies and creating environmental protections. It wasn’t just smaller government, but better government.” Sounds a lot like Hatfield, who feared the emergence of evangelical right-wingers like Palin and Perry–and Robertson and Falwell before them.

Here’s an excerpt from Moral Minority on Hatfield’s early politics:

As Hatfield’s meteoric rise in Oregon politics progressed, it became increasingly clear that he represented a progressive wing of the party of Lincoln. To be sure, he was still a Republican. In fact, Hatfield was an unambiguous social conservative on abortion before the party itself became more consistently pro-life. He was also an anti-New Deal fiscal conservative. But his populist call for “genuine political, economic, and ecological self-determination” meant reducing “excessive concentration of power” everywhere, not only in the executive branch of government and labor unions, but also in big corporations and the military. Hatfield’s emphasis on decentralization, voluntarism, compassionate globalism, political localism, and populist electoral measures such as the recall, initiative, and referendum in fact dovetailed nicely with Oregonian tradition. Hatfield often cited his state’s historic leadership in women’s suffrage, child-labor laws, worker benefits, and the progressive income tax. He opposed a state sales tax, arguing that it was a regressive tax that hit low-income earners disproportionately. He sought and received labor support, earning the endorsement of the Teamsters in his 1952 run for the governorship. Hatfield’s leadership of the Young Republicans in Oregon in 1949 resulted in a platform that included aid to the poor and elderly, taxes on the timber industry to fund environmental research, and an end to racial discrimination. Dismissing the racial overtones that plagued much of the growing conservative movement at mid-century, Hatfield joined the NAACP. In 1953 he successfully introduced a bill that prohibited discrimination in hotel accommodations well before national and most state initiatives. Most Oregon evangelicals supported these initiatives; after all, they came from a governor who regularly stopped his state vehicle to kneel on the roadside to pray.

One Reply to “Evangelical, Republican, Progressive”

  1. My thing against Mark is that he was anti-war period, not just against Vietnam. I thought the first Gulf War under Geroge H Bush was right since it was short, got Sadam out of a foreign country and yes made the flow of oil to the US and Europe and other countries possible. Also, while I opposed are involvement in Kosvo I think Mark’s statement that we can’t do anything because they have for 800 years means that the country is just not able to solved or reduced it ethnic or religous tenisions. Mark was so much anti-war that he did seem indifferent to other people’s problems like the fact that Kosvo was a war in which civilians were deliberately raped and murdered whether by the Serbian Orthodox Christians or the Kosvoian Islamic believers.

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