Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency

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What were President Eisenhower’s political philosophy and priorities?

President Eisenhower's political philosophy could broadly be described as moderate Republican. In domestic policy, he made no effort to overturn the government programs of the New Deal and Truman's Fair Deal. He also greatly expanded the nation's infrastructure. Eisenhower's main priorities were in the field of foreign affairs. His administration took a more active, aggressive approach in dealing with the Communist threat and greatly expanded the United States's nuclear weapons program.

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Eisenhower hailed from the moderate wing of the Republican Party. In domestic policy, this meant that his administration didn't depart too radically from the approach of his Democratic predecessors, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. Eisenhower stated that he intended to lead the United States down a middle path between the unfettered power of concentrated wealth and the unbridled power of an over-mighty government.

Such a political philosophy was anathema to many on the Republican right. After spending twenty years out of the White House, they wanted the Eisenhower Administration to take the opportunity to dismantle the programs of the New Deal and the Fair Deal, which they saw as a prime example of inefficient, wasteful big government.

But Eisenhower made no attempt to do so. In fact, in some areas, such as Social Security, he actually expanded some of the programs he'd inherited. In addition, Eisenhower increased the minimum wage and supported government construction of low-income housing, though he devoted fewer resources than Truman. Eisenhower also embarked upon a series of important new programs that greatly improved the nation's infrastructure, such as the Interstate Highway Program.

Yet Eisenhower's priorities were always in the field of foreign affairs. Eisenhower saw his main priority in this regard as taking a more active and aggressive approach towards the Soviet Union and the spread of Communism across the globe.

Though Eisenhower maintained Truman's strategy of containment in relation to the Soviets, his administration was much more forthcoming in offering financial, military, and political support to anti-Communist insurgent movements and right-wing governments in the developing world who could be relied upon to take a tough line against the Communist menace. Under Eisenhower, the CIA engineered a series of coups against those leaders—such as Mosaddeq in Iran and Guzman in Guatemala—deemed too friendly to the Soviets.

The Eisenhower Administration's active engagement with the world represented a sharp break from the pre-war isolationism previously embraced by his party. In the realm of foreign affairs, as with domestic issues, Eisenhower consistently showed himself to be a moderate Republican committed to maintaining social peace at home and projecting strength abroad.

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