Does not this Wikipedia description of the Rockefeller Republicans sound like a perfect description of the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party today? These were driving out of the Republicans by the Reaganites so they moved over to the Democrats, and that’s how we got the Clintons, Obama, and now Biben. If anything, the Rockefeller Republicans were to the left of the neoliberals, although I think that had more to do with the zeitgeist that emerged in the 90s. There was a backlash against the expansion of the welfare state in the 60s and 70s that was given intellectual cover by the Moynihan Report and Charles Murray’s “Losing Ground.” A lot of elites were worried the lower classes were getting too lazy. However, the Clinton regime was more fiscally conservative than the Reaganites. Nowadays, however, fiscal conservatism has been totally thrown overboard. Trump, Obama, and W. Bush were among the biggest spenders in US history.
“In domestic policy, Rockefeller Republicans were typically moderate to center-right economically, however they vehemently rejected conservatives like Barry Goldwater and their laissez faire economic policies while holding beliefs in social policies that were often culturally liberal. They typically favored a social safety net and a continuation of New Deal programs but sought to run these programs more efficiently than the Democrats. Nevertheless, Rockefeller Republicans opposed socialism and government ownership and were strong supporters of big business and Wall Street, though they supported some regulation of business. But rather than increasing regulation of business, they advocated for developing a mutually beneficial relationship between public interests and private enterprise, drawing comparisons and similarities to the French Dirigisme or the Japanese Developmental state. They espoused government and private investments in environmentalism, healthcare, and higher education as necessities for a better society and economic growth in the tradition of Rockefeller. They were strong supporters of state colleges, trade schools and universities with low tuition and large research budgets, and also favored investments in infrastructure such as highway projects.
Reflecting Nelson Rockefeller’s tradition of technocratic problem solving, most Rockefeller Republicans were known to have a pragmatic and interdisciplinary approach to problem solving and governance while advocating for a broad consensus rather than a consolidation of support. Also welcoming an increased public role for engineers, doctors, scientists, economists, and businessmen over politicians in crafting policies and programs. As a result, many Rockefeller Republicans were major figures in business, such as auto executive George W. Romney and investment banker C. Douglas Dillon. In fiscal policy, they favored balanced budgets and were not averse to raising taxes in order to achieve them. Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush once called for Congress to “raise the required revenues by approving whatever levels of taxation may be necessary”.A critical element was their support for labor unions and especially the building trades appreciated the heavy spending on infrastructure. In turn, the unions gave these politicians enough support to overcome the anti-union rural element in the Republican Party. As the unions weakened after the 1970s, so too did the need for Republicans to cooperate with them. This transformation played into the hands of the more conservative Republicans, who did not want to collaborate with labor unions in the first place and now no longer needed to do so to carry statewide elections.
In foreign policy, they tended to be Hamiltonian, espousing internationalist and realist policies, supporting the United Nations and promoting American business interests abroad. Most wanted to use American power in cooperation with allies to fight against the spread of Soviet communism and help American business expand abroad. Richard Nixon, a moderate establishment Republican within the party’s contemporary ideological framework, was influenced by this tradition.”