President John F. Kennedy was actually a conservative.
Not only by today’s standards, but even during his time, the 35th President of the United States was by all means a conservative.
The left needs to stop claiming him for themselves, as when you look back at his policies, he was no liberal despite being a Democrat.
The left reveres President Kennedy, and for good reason.
He was young, handsome and charismatic. President Kennedy had a vision for the country and was tragically taken from us by an assassin.
It’s no wonder why the left clings to his legacy. However, it’s time for liberals to hear the truth and for conservatives to accept him as one of our own.
With his reelection campaign for 1964 quickly approaching, Kennedy needed something to stimulate economic growth in order to help his chances at reelection.
Kennedy’s proposed tax cuts, (which were passed by the House in 1963 and eventually by the Senate after Kennedy’s death) cut the top individual income tax rate to 70% from 91%.
Not only did Kennedy seek tax cuts, it was a major priority on his agenda:
“This is the most urgent task confronting the Congress in 1963. I am convinced that the enactment this year of tax reduction and tax reform overshadows all other domestic problems in the Congress.”
Conservative hero Ronald Reagan often quoted Kennedy’s rhetoric and would recite Kennedy’s famous line “a rising tide lifts all boats” in arguing for supply-side economics.
In other words: Kennedy’s tax cuts inspired the conservative president who single-handedly changed the Republican Party.
Not only a tax cutter, he wasn’t a typical liberal big spender either. As Kennedy once said about the NASA budget:
“Everything that we do really ought to be tied into getting onto the moon and ahead of the Russians … Otherwise we shouldn’t be spending this kind of money, because I’m not that interested in space.”
He favored free trade and his annual federal budget deficits were all lower than Eisenhower’s had been in 1959.
Unlike the leftists of today, Kennedy was capitalist who appreciated the free market.
While Jack Kennedy was a Democrat, he was certainly not a leftist and he despised communism.
On June 26, 1963, President Kennedy gave a speech in West Berlin where he famously declared Ich bin ein Berliner meaning “I am a Berliner.”
This famous speech sought to emphasize the support of the United States for West Germany after the Soviet-supported East Germany erected the Berlin Wall to prevent emigration to the West.
Kennedy also made it very clear that freedom and communism were incompatible during the Cold War:
“There are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin.”
This rhetoric wasn’t unusual. On the campaign in 1960, he boldly referred the Cold War to two conflicting ideologies: “Freedom under God versus ruthless, godless tyranny.”
Even Kennedy’s successes, the Peace Corps and his vision for a man on the moon, were rooted as Cold War efforts to beat the Soviet Union.
Although often overlooked, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was our nation’s first Roman Catholic president and he attended mass regularly.
Potentially being the first Catholic as president was a big deal in the 1960 race, as bigots feared a non-Protestant in office.
Kennedy eventually addressed this during the campaign, and shrugged this off as a non-issue:
“I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic.”
Despite Kennedy making light of his Catholic faith during that speech, he was quite religious in his private life.
And yes, it goes without saying that the man was a womanizer and cheated left and right. As Ira Stoll writes in his book: JFK, Conservative:
“Any depiction of Kennedy as a religious conservative must reckon with the reports of his sex life. “‘Strange”’ is probably as apt a description as any…”
Holding faith and being a good representative of faith are two different things.
Only those close to him understood this, such as his speechwriter Ted Sorenson. Stoll also explains:
“Sorenson reports that Kennedy “‘faithfully attended Mass each Sunday, even in the midst of fatiguing out-of-state travels when no voter would know whether he attended services or not.”‘
Whether or not Kennedy revealed it often, he was devoutly religious. A character trait the modern left lacks.
John F. Kennedy was no doubt a cold warrior.
In stark contrast to today’s Democratic Party, Kennedy was no pacifist. He talked a good game on peace, but he was certainly never afraid to flex military muscle as the Commander in Chief.
Although mostly attributed to his successor, Lyndon Johnson, it was Kennedy who originally escalated the war in Vietnam to prevent the domino theory of Southeast Asia falling to communism.
In order to fight communism in the era of the Cold War, Kennedy was militaristic.
He authorized the Bay of Pigs invasion, backing CIA-trained Cuban exiles in their attempt to overthrow the Castro regime.
The invasion turned out to be an absolute disaster for the Kennedy administration, as within 72 hours all exiles were either captured or dead.
Can you imagine a left-winger today ever getting behind an idea like that?
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy established a military blockade to prevent further missiles from reaching Cuba.
He disregarded advice from dovish liberal advisers who told him to ignore the weapons and avoid war at all costs. Being the leader he was, Kennedy instead ordered the Navy into action.
He understood that in order for America to take on the communists, we needed to have a strong military. After all, Jack Kennedy served in the military and was a World War II Naval hero.
He increased military spending and sought a policy of “peace through strength” before Ronald Reagan used the term.
Here are a few other conservative positions the man held:
- Was one of eight presidents to have been lifetime members of the NRA (as the only Democrat on that list).
- Called abortion “repugnant” and appointed one of the two justices who dissented against Roe v. Wade.
- Criticized union leaders who he said “practice extortion, shakedowns, and bribery.”
- Wanted to reform welfare.
No Home Left in the Democratic Party
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
-The days of that Democratic party are now long gone.
John F. Kennedy understood that no American should be entitled to the fruits of others’ labor. He would be appalled at the welfare state today.
The left has moved so far left that John F. Kennedy would have no place in today’s modern Democratic Party.
Nobody in today’s Democratic Party would ever advocate for tax cuts or increases in military spending.
The left loves to idolize a president who disagrees with them on fundamental values. This is sure to anger liberals, but the truth hurts. They have no reason to claim his legacy for their own.
Yes, President Kennedy did enact some liberal policies during his time in office, but overall, the man was a conservative.
When you get right down to it, John F. Kennedy was a freedom-loving, militaristic, anti-communist patriot who kept our nation safe during the height of the Cold War.
John F. Kennedy at 100
Exactly one week ago today, Monday, May 29 marked John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday.
It’s quite difficult to imagine what Kennedy would think of today’s political climate. However, one thing is for certain: Kennedy is rolling in his grave over how far left the Democrats have become.
JFK’s legacy as a great president exists not only because of his vision for the country, but also because of his conservative values.
As conservatives, we need to look past the fact that Kennedy was a Democrat president, and realize that much of what he stood for is what we stand for today:
American exceptionalism, the free market, peace through strength, anti-communism and so much more.
Happy birthday President Kennedy and rest in peace. Your conservative legacy lives on.
This article was inspired by Ira Stoll’s book: JFK, Conservative.