Richard Nixon was born quite poor in Yorba Linda, California.
Nixon’s mother was a Quaker and his father converted from Methodist when he married her.
Quaker is a surprising religion for Nixon. It teaches its followers to not drink or dance or swear, for one. But its quite liberal in a number of ways, such as allowing women to hold offices of influence in the church and, perhaps most famously, being radically pacifist.
And this from the president who is most famous for Watergate and the Vietnam War.
Even though Nixon’s family was devout, he didn’t have a high view of religion once taking office, saying:
In the long term we can hope that religion will change the nature of man and reduce conflict. But history is not encouraging in this respect. The bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars.
Nixon was a real Republican. He believed in family values, small government, and kicking ass. He’s the only president to have resigned after the Watergate scandal marred his reputation, disenchanting Americans for generations. In fact, some theorize that the Nixon administration is responsible for the decline in America’s trust of politicians and the political process.
He wasn’t all bad, though. He was the first president to visit communist China, opening relations between the two countries for the first time in 25 years. Also, he managed to preside over one of the hottest periods of the Cold War, and no one got nuked. So that’s a plus.
Economically, Nixon was more liberal than conservative. The Vietnam War took a toll on the U.S. economy, causing high rates of inflation. Following in the footsteps of a number of European countries, Nixon took the U.S. dollar off the gold standard, giving the U.S. Federal Reserve greater power–a move still controversial today. It managed to only temporarily boost the U.S. economy in 1971, just in time for reelection.
In other ways, he was all Republican such as opposing the welfare state–now an American institution, saying:
If we take the route of the permanent handout, the American character will itself be impoverished.