December 26, 2006
Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the U.S., has died. Our nation was lucky Ford was vice president when Nixon resigned. He represented a brand of conservative Republicanism that seems quaint today: hawkish on foreign policy, moderation on hot-button issues like abortion, and adherence to economies of budgeting that would seem naive to the Cheneys and Bushes of the world. The Republican Party that Ford joined in his youth still identified itself as the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, and viewed support of civil rights and the E.R.A. as part of its birthright. Goldwater, Nixon and the Southern Strategy would alter the party beyond recognition; by the time he became President, he was already out of touch with much of his party's base, and 170 of the electoral votes won by the Democrats in 1976, and 143 of those won by the G.O.P., were captured by the other party in 2004.