14. Conservatives dominated the federal government and led the country to prosperity
During the 1950s Eisenhower scored two landslide victories in his presidential races, in 1952 and again in 1956. Both were over Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. In the 1952 race, Republicans also seized control of the House and the Senate. But two years later, following the first of the three recessions which occurred during Ike’s two administrations, Democrats reclaimed the House. They also claimed the majority in the Senate, which they then held for the ensuing 26 years. Throughout the rest of the decade, the Democrats widened their majority in the House, giving Ike a Congress controlled by the opposition for six of the eight years he held office in the White House. Democratic Congressmen became powerful national figures, including Sam Rayburn and a young Texan named Lyndon Baines Johnson. Another emerging Democratic Senator was John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Far from being a conservative government in the 1950s, Congress instead expanded many of the programs of Roosevelt’s New Deal, as well as introducing new social measures. Meanwhile, the actions of the federal government in opposition to segregation began to erode Ike’s longstanding popularity in the Deep South. As President, Eisenhower supported many activities which were not in line with prevalent conservative values, including desegregation, space exploration, decreasing the size of the military, and increasing social spending. Increasing taxes to support the construction of the Interstate Highway System also found conservative opposition, as did subsidies for the airlines to support terminal construction. Throughout the 1950s, Congress and the President worked in truly bipartisan ways to accomplish their goals, with a Republican President, and a Democratic Congress.