It’s a softball question one might expect “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno to ask a political pundit around President’s Day, but MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow had an interesting answer to who her favorite president was.
On Tuesday’s “The Tonight Show” on NBC, the host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” told Leno her ideology is to the right of former Republican President Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential platform, and she might identify herself an Eisenhower Republican.
“Over all of history — I think that politics has moved so far to the right over the decades that if you look at the Republican Party platform from like the ’50s — I am as liberal as they come. But it is to the left of me. The Republican Party platform from the ’50s — I am so liberal I would be an Eisenhower Republican.”
Maddow insisted there has been a “shift” ideologically from the Republican days of Eisenhower up through former President Ronald Reagan – and said that today, Reagan might consider liberal Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich as a running mate.
“Because politics shift every year – shift further and further to the right,” she argued. “The conservative movement sort of tugs the Republican Party to the right and the Democrats follow. And so, you know, if Ronald Reagan were running for president today he would be drafting, like Dennis Kucinich to be his running mate. But politics have shifted so far.”
Later in the segment, Leno asked Maddow: If duly elected officials advocate new rules for labor unions, doesn’t that reflect the will of their constituents? Maddow refuted that notion, and argued in favor of government-sector labor unions. She said the efforts by Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will infringe on the rights of the people, since Walker favors restricting public sector unions’ ability to collect dues through the government’s payroll system.
“What they’re saying is the thing — that the reason they have left is because it is a reasonable demand, no matter how big your majority is, it is a reasonable demand to say, ‘We want to renegotiate the contracts under which people who work for the state work,’” Maddow said. “It is not a reasonable demand to say, ‘You will never be negotiated with again and we are taking away your rights.’ For the government to say — I mean it is kind of amazing – for the government to say, ‘We the government know best. And you guys want to be in a union? We’re taking away your rights. We’re taking away that choice from you, because the government needs to do what it wants and you guys are getting in the way.’”
During the ObamaCare debate in 2010 and following court rulings that challenged the constitutionality of the law, Maddow backed the president’s plan. Despite her support for government mandates on health care, the MSNBC questioned why the government should be able to restrict a public-sector union’s ability to organize. She said the union backlash calls into question the fundamentals of conservatism.
“For the Tea Partiers to come and say, ‘You know, government does know best. The people ought to lose this right, because government needs something here,’” she continued. “When did that become a conservative idea? I mean talk about a big government. So to see the Tea Partiers here taking the side of the government taking away the people’s rights, I think calls into question the whole idea of conservatism.”