In his nationally syndicated column, Jonah Goldberg wrote, "We are in at least the fifth round of the pin-the-tail-on-the-next-Reagan game. The GOP presidential candidates keep trying to put on Reagan's conservative mantle the way Cinderella's ugly stepsisters tried to cram their dogs into her glass slippers."

In his nationally syndicated column, Jonah Goldberg wrote, "We are in at least the fifth round of the pin-the-tail-on-the-next-Reagan game. The GOP presidential candidates keep trying to put on Reagan's conservative mantle the way Cinderella's ugly stepsisters tried to cram their dogs into her glass slippers."

In the present political climate, every candidate for political office seems to try in every way to claim the label of "conservative" and would strongly reject being identified as a "liberal." The meanings of words change over the years and what is in "style" changes as well. Today, politicians wince at being labeled a liberal. Not so many years ago that was not the case.

Historically, sociologists have listed five political perspectives as, from far-left to far-right, communist, socialist, liberal, conservative, reactionary. To place the five in history, the WWII governments of Germany, Italy and Japan were all far-right reactionary governments. The USSR and Chinese governments have been termed far-left communistic in makeup. The Karl Marx philosophy of communism, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" sounded good to many, as did the Adolf Hitler plan of total government centralization. Unfortunately, both play out as dictatorships when applied pragmatically.

The dictionary says that a conservative is one who favors preserving the existing order. A liberal is defined as one who favors civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of public resources to promote social progress. The U.S. government has traditionally fit in the middle of the liberal group but has been swinging to the conservative right for the past 35 years.

On the issue of liberal or conservative, where did the greatest of our presidents stand? Most historians have settled on George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman as our top five presidents. Of the five only Washington defies classification. All of the others would have been categorized as political liberals.

Theodore Roosevelt made his reputation on the charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba, and his use of the "Bully Pulpit" to create our National Parks Administration. F.D. Roosevelt created the CCC, WPA, FDIC, and several other government programs designed to put people back to work and protect their money. Truman authored the Marshall Plan at the end of WWII and rebuilt Europe.

One might argue that Lincoln was the first Republican elected president and, thus, he must have been a conservative. History tells us that the Republican Party came into being in the late 1850s and was judged by virtually all to be a "maverick" group pledging change in almost every political category. Lincoln was definitely not a conservative in his approach to governance.

During our 238-year history, we have had both liberals and conservative lead our country. Indeed, the pendulum tends to swing back forth between the two political philosophies. Today, most would classify the Obama administration as liberal. Will the pendulum swing back toward conservatism in future elections? History says yes, as sure as God made little green apples.

Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.