Bismarck: A Life, By Jonathan Steinberg
Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was an ultra-conservative German chancellor (prime minister). Notwithstanding his conservatism, he was the originator of social welfare legislation in Europe (and therefore in the world), including unemployment insurance, mandatory employer-financed health care and worker disability laws. He instituted these social welfare policies to obtain political support from the working class because he saw the socialist political alternative as more extreme (Marxism/Communism was at the beginning of its ascendancy), and because he thought a STRONG nation needed to have educated and healthy people who felt secure if misfortune befell them.
Some of the arguments I want to make around the liberal part of a Liberal Republican agenda are Bismarck’s. And if one of the most successful conservative politicians in history can make such arguments, it is not “squishy liberal crap” to make them now. In this regard, note that according to the U.S. Department of Defense, in 2014 seventy-one percent of the 34 million Americans ages 17 to 24 were unfit for the military due to education status, health status or their having a criminal record. (See “Pentagon: 7 in 10 Youths Would fail to Qualify for Military Service” [here])
Also, in the Age of Trump, Bismarck: A Life could be a helpful guide for opponents of the illiberal direction American politics may be on the verge of taking. Bismarck was a genius at manipulating and bullying politicians, bypassing constitutional government in the name of national security, and permitting populist attacks on particular religions (in his case, first Catholics and later Jews) to enhance his power and advance his political goals.