Robert Taft (1888-1953) was a prominent member of what is now known as the “Old Right” and an ardent anti-New Dealer. He is well-known for his non-interventionist foreign policy which he described in his book A Foreign Policy for Americans (available as a pdf from the Mises Institue). He opposed the New Deal and World War II, took a principled stand against the Nuremberg Trials as victor’s justice, balanced the scales of labor and management that the New Dealers had tipped to the unions, and was named one of the five greatest senators in American history by John F. Kennedy in his Profiles in Courage.
But few know that after two months in office, Senator Taft debated Professor T.V. Smith, a pro-New Deal Congressman from Illinois, in a series of radio debates. According to a Gallup poll, two-thirds of those who listened said Taft had the better argument and even left-wing The Nation reported that Old Right Taft “had whipped a prime New Deal intellectual.” These revelations are documented in Russell Kirk’s The Political Principles of Robert A. Taft which was just re-published earlier this year.
The entire series of radio debates were published in a book entitled Foundations of Democracy. Some of the gems from the debate are linked as follows:
So, go! Find a copy the Foundations of Democracy or read it online. Friends of liberty have fought the statist beast before. Take heart and learn from your predecessors!Published in