Nixon’s First Book: The Challenges We Face
Relatively unknown compared to Six Crises, Vice President Richard Nixon outlined his views on the pressing issues of the 1960 presidential election in his first published book The Challenges We Face. A collection of speeches and policy discussions from 1958 to 1960, Nixon provided his insights on a wide range of domestic and international policies ranging from the Soviet Union, China, education, and civil rights. In the most interesting chapter, Nixon explained his stance toward refusing to recognize the communist government of China. Next, he discussed the domestic challenges facing then the next president with a specific focus on education, the economy, civil rights and immigration.
While the book includes several foreign policy speeches on topics as Latin America, Africa, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union, Nixon’s discussion on China emphasized his general skepticism of communist nations while leaving open the possibility of future relations with the Chinese government. In defending his decision for refusing to recognize the communist government in China, Nixon argued, “The moment that we elevate the Red Chinese regime to the position of respected member of the family of nations….[would be] catastrophic [throughout Asia] as far as our interests are concerned” (Nixon, p. 117). However, Nixon acknowledged that divisions between the Soviet Union and communist China could potentially push China towards the United States. However, the vice president cautioned against such optimism noting that our stance in recognition “[could] change, but only when the policies of the Communist Chinese government change” (Nixon, p. 118).
In his discussions on domestic issues, Nixon reminded the country of the great progress made during the post war years, and advocated for measures to keep the nation competitive and prosperous. While the United States’ public education system served as a model for the rest of the world, Nixon called for an increase in funding for science and engineering programs along with increases in teacher’s pay to ensure the best educators remain in schools. Focusing on the economy, Nixon warned against the dangers of uncontrolled government spending and poor monetary policy leading to increases in inflation. Furthermore, Nixon discussed at length in several chapters the role of businesses and labor unions working together to promote jobs, maintain quality wages, and generate market growth. Lastly, Nixon dedicated a chapter of his book to civil rights, including the challenges of federal action in supporting civil rights efforts, and how the U.S. would be viewed globally on the issue. As Nixon stated, “The Kremlin propagandists seize upon every failure of the Western world to live up to its ideals of liberty under law” (p. 167).
In the last few chapters, the book includes transcripts from several speeches Nixon gave to the Soviet people, the famous “Kitchen Debate” and brief timelines of the vice president’s life and achievements. Those interested in the 1960s political environment would find The Challenges We Face an interesting read to gain insights on Nixon’s political views. For example, comparing his 1960 to 1968 campaign, readers can observe the evolution of his beliefs with regard to China. While Six Crises remains the more popular book written by Nixon during his years prior to the presidency, The Challenges We Face remains a must read.
Nixon, R. M. (1961). The Challenges We Face. New York, NY: Popular Library.