Lincoln laid the foundations for the transcontinental railroad and the great public land-grant universities, all while he fought the Civil War and freed the slaves.
Teddy Roosevelt started the national park system, busted the trusts, and began digging the Panama Canal.
Dwight Eisenhower built the interstate highway system and launched a space program to match Sputnik, while presiding over the emergence of the greatest middle class in the history of the world.
Yes, he was a crook. But he opened relations with China, signed the first clean water act, and got America out of the quagmire of Southeast Asia.
Yes, he was the darling of the conservatives and a union buster. But he presided over the last great economic boom of 20th century America, while contributing mightily to the West's winning of the Cold War.
One might fairly say that from Lincoln, one of our two or three greatest presidents, to Reagan was a downhill slide. Even so, it seems undeniable to me that these five Republican presidents collectively represent what was once, truly, a Grand Old Party… a party that led the greatest democracy the world has ever seen… the greatest middle class the world has ever seen… the most powerful nation the world has ever seen.
They harnessed capitalism and the free market to the national interest… to the public interest.
If their Republican Party were the GOP of today, I'd be a Republican.