Between 1913 and 1993, what did Republican presidents achieve?

Between 1913 and 1993, there were 8 Republican presidents and 6 Democratic ones. As far as I’m aware these are some of the major ‘achievements’ attributable to the Democratic presidents in that time:

  • Creation of the Federal Reserve (1913, Woodrow Wilson)
  • The first progressive income tax (1913, Woodrow Wilson)
  • Social Security Acts (1932 and 1964, FDR and LBJ)
  • Participation and eventual victory in WW1 (1917-1918, Woodrow Wilson)
  • Participation and eventual victory in WW2 (1941-1945, FDR/Truman)
  • Founding of the UN and NATO (1940s, Truman)
  • Medicare (1965, LBJ)
  • Medicaid (1965, LBJ)
  • Civil Rights Act (1964, LBJ)

But I’m not aware of what the major achievements of the Republicans are. This isn’t a partisan thread: I’m not American, and I’m sure a fair number of those 8 Republican presidents must have achieved some substantial elements of their agendas, I’m just not sure what. So, in either domestic or foreign policy, can you guys tell me about some of their achievements?

**Note: By ‘achievement’ I don’t necessarily mean something everyone agrees with, just:

  1. Something major that Republicans were pushing for, and
  2. Something a fair amount of people consider a success nowadays.

Note 2: I’m looking for a broadly factual answer, so as little political wrangling as possible please. I don’t want any discussion of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barack Obama because I think that’d be too divisive.**

Just quick, and off the top of my head Nixon opened up China. Eisenhower created the interstate highway system and backed the Little Rock students for desegregation.

One that really isn’t controversial is Eisenhower’s interstate highway system started in the 1950’s. It’s importance cannot be overstated in the ways that it influenced the country’s development.

Nixon opened up relations with China.

Regan is much more controversial but he arguably helped bring an end to the Soviet Union or at least made it happen more quickly through an incredibly expensive defense spending race. He also helped move economic policy move sharply to the right.

Victory in Gulf War I (Bush I)
Setting up the EPA (Nixon)

Hmm. Well, in 1924, there was the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which outlawed aggressive war. Obviously, in the short term, this didn’t work, because, you know, World War II, but it became one of the pillars of post-World War II international law, and it was one of the reasons people were put on trial at Nuremberg for “crimes against peace”.

For Eisenhower, there was the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, which, while they didn’t do as much as the one passed 8 years later, they established an office of civil rights, and made it a federal crime to try to stop someone from voting or registering to vote. Also, while it was the Supreme Court that desegregated the schools, Eisenhower was the one who federalized the National Guard to make sure that students could actually get to school. He also created the Interstate Highway System, ended the Korean War and balanced the budget several times.

As far as Nixon goes, he reopened relations with China, he ended the draft, he founded the EPA, he signed the SALT treaty limiting nuclear weapons.

As for Ford, he signed the Helsinki treaty. He established special education in schools.

As for Reagan or GHWB, I’m not going to say anything, because I know that whatever I say, people are going to argue with.

Many of the “accomplishments” in the OP would not be considered positives by conservatives. This is going to be difficult to debate as a Factual Question.

It might also be noted than nothing is accomplished by a President acting alone. The entire government gets involved, and it frequently includes “the loyal opposition,” so assigning any victory to a particular party is problematic.

Hoover was very well respected, and considered quite liberal, prior to 1929. He attempted to combat the Depression by support to business, and in particular by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. While this can be regarded in retrospect as the wrong move, too little and too late, it’s important to note that it belies the myth that Hoover stood by and let the Depression get worse. From the knowledge of the time, it was a courageous and wise move.

Eisenhower used his prestige, which was very high owing to his SHAEF and NATO work, to ameliorate Cold War tensions to the extent possible, including trying to put together summit conferences. And the importance of the Interstate Highway System cannot easily be overstated – it changed the country from a nation of people who usually stayed in the same area, traveling rarely by rail, ship, or plane, and shipping freight by rail, into the extremely mobile America of the last 50 years. Ike was also a much more crafty individual than his popular image, then or now, would suggest – he exuded the air of a simple retired general ramining above the fray of politics, while behind the scenes his people at his instructions put through his more controversial policies.

The meme “Only Nixon could have gone to China” contains a lot of truth despite its having become a hackneyed trope. Throught the 50s and 60s the U.S. and its allies had attempted to isolate Beijing by refusal of recognition, doing ntohing but building tensions. But the U.S. conservatives would never have agreed to recognition of P.R. China. It took Nixon with solid conservtive credentials doing so to force it through.

To say that Reagan forced the end of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe is simplistic and false. But reaction to his policies greatly exacerbated the economic and political woes that eventually did bring down those regimes, so there is some truth underlying it. And Reagan was enough of a statesman to see beyond the next election, to institute programs that would have long-range effects.

Hence why I specifically defined what an ‘accomplishment’ is in the OP, and put it in bold. I’ll repeat it for you: "Note: By ‘achievement’ I don’t necessarily mean something everyone agrees with, just:

  1. Something major that [elements of the President’s party] were pushing for, and
  2. Something a fair amount of people consider a success nowadays."
    I would consider pretty much everything that’s been mentioned so far as an ‘achievement’. Some of them I wasn’t aware of before:
  • The Gulf War (George HW Bush)
  • Setting up the EPA (Nixon)
  • Opening up relations with China (Nixon)
  • The Interstate system (Eisenhower)
  • Reagan’s role in helping to end the Cold War
  • Reagan’s economic policies even (a major step conservatives were pushing for, and heralded as a success by a lot of people today)

So actually I think it’s been quite easy to debate this as a Factual Question so far.

The OP is better off reading an encyclopedia about these presidents. That said, here are a few additional thoughts.

Coolidge signed the Act granting citizenship to native Americans. The Federal Radio Commission (predecessor to the FCC) was created during his term.

Eisenhower presided over the negotiation of peace in Korea.

Nixon created the EPA, OSHA, and the CPSC. He instituted affirmative action within the federal Government and signed Title IX. He ended the gold standard.

The Interstate Highway system was actually planned in the 1930s, but Eisenhower made it come to fruition.

Not really a fair question in my opinion. Conservatives serve don’t help our society by creating things. They generally do so by serving as the voice of reason and preventing bad idea’s from moving forward. A more accurate measure of Republican accomplishments would be things they stopped from going forward. It is rather difficult to make a meaningful list of those things.

Reagan pushed hard for reducing higher tax rates on the very wealthy and was successful in getting it passed. Some rich people and some idiots are very happy with the results of this program.

And this is why I’ve moved the thread from General Questions to Great Debates.

The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 ended an arms race in building battleships that had started renew much like the one before World War I.

There had been early versions of the Endangered Species Act & Clean Air Act passed in the 1960’s by Democrats. That said…

R. M. Nixon signed two different versions of the Endangered Species Act.
He also consolidated various offices into the Environmental Protection Agency by executive order. (Nixon is of course better remembered for being run out of office on corruption charges.) He also passed a Clean Air Act.

George H. W. Bush signed the 1990 Clean Air Act, which ended some very bad acid rain problems; I remember summer rains smelling like rotten eggs when I was a teenager in the central US.

Oddly, the conservative movement which took over the GOP after Nixon’s resignation has a wing of anti-environmentalists. They know enough not to criticize the Clean Air Act, but they definitely don’t brag about these accomplishments. (And they were a big part of why I left the party.)

George HW Bush not only won the Gulf War but used the victory to push for peace in the Middle East at the Madrid conference which laid the basis for the Oslo accords a couple of years later. He was the last President to put serious pressure on Israel and not coincidentally the last to achieve any serious progress in the region. He also laid the foundation for balancing the budget by raising taxes; this was followed through by Clinton who finished the job.

So basically Bush 1 increased US power and prestige in the Middle East and helped balance the budget and of course his son reversed both legacies in large measure.

George H.W. Bush also signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.

That’s the current Republican spin on things. During the administrations mentioned in the OP this was not necessarily the case. Their actions should be judged by the view at the time, not the current party line.

Ronald Reagan appointed the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.

Gerald Ford appointed John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court. Ronald Reagan signed the START treaty.