|Source:New York Daily News- Governor Nelson Rockefeller: Progressive Republican, New York|
Source:New York Daily News: Nelson Rockefeller- 'On The Future of The Republican Party: 1964 GOP Convention'
Before people try to learn and understand Nelson Rockefeller or any other Republican from that era, they need to know what the GOP was like before Barry Goldwater and his coalition of Conservative-Libertarians, as well as Christian-Conservatives and there where the party was moving and has become ever since. And then know what it meant to be an extremist back then in the GOP and what that means now. Because these terms and labels are a lot different today, from where they were then.
Pre-1961 or so, the Republican Party was essentially a Progressive-Republican party: which I know sounds like jumbo shrimp, or a hot day in Seattle, freezing weather in South Florida, but they were basically a progressive Center-Right party, with a conservative-libertarian faction in it. Pre-1972 or so people who are called Libertarians today, were basically Conservative Republicans. And a lot of people who would be called Progressive Democrats let's say in the 1970s or so, or Centrist Democrats, were Progressive Republicans before that.
Things like the civil rights movement, Cultural Revolution, the Vietnam War, and other major events from the 1960s basically flipped flopped the two major party's. Right-wing Dixiecrats in and out of Congress like Senator Strom Thurmond and other members of the Southern Caucus in Congress became Republicans. And lot of Progressive Northeastern Republicans became Democrats.
Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, represented what was then the old guard of the Republican Party: the Dwight Eisenhower wing of the Republican Party that was progressive on civil rights and regulatory state issues, believed in a public safety net issues, public education, pro-Right to Organize, but were hawkish on national security and foreign policy, as well a law enforcement, and didn't believe government should be running large deficits and debt. So when Governor Rockefeller, warned about extremism taking over the Republican Party, he was talking about Barry Goldwater and his Conservative-Libertarians, replacing the Progressives in the party like himself and he was right.